Thursday, December 3, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different...

There is nothing like a philosophy class to make you appreciate the common man. All our lives, we struggle to understand our reason for being. Just when we think we actually know truth, someone changes the rules.

Here are a few examples: Global warming (my ass is freezing right now), the killer swine flu, communism and birth control. I cannot wrap my brain around the contradictions. Just when I thought I knew and understood these things, the world presented evidence that forces me to reevaluate my understanding.

The world is warming, which is why I am colder in California than I was in Ireland two years ago. The swine flu thundered through our local elementary school and not a single child died. Communist China is the leader of manufacturing in the world and is buying American debt so we can continue our limping economy.

But where I laughed my backside off (not really...it is still there) is when I read this today in the UK Guardian:
The scheme - set up by an organisation backed by Sir David Attenborough, the former diplomat Sir Crispin Tickell and green figureheads such as Jonathon Porritt and James Lovelock - argues that family planning is the most effective way to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic global warming.

The cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the trust claims that family planning is the cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions. Every £4 spent on contraception, it says, saves one tonne of CO2 being added to global warming, but a similar reduction in emissions would require an £8 investment in tree planting, £15 in wind power, £31 in solar energy and £56 in hybrid vehicle technology.

Calculations based on the trust's figures show the 10 tonnes emitted by a return flight from London to Sydney would be offset by enabling the avoidance of one unwanted birth in a country such as Kenya. Such action not only cuts emissions but reduces the number of people who will fall victim to climate change, it says.
From the UK Guardian
So there you have it. If we could just get those pesky Kenyans to stop procreating, our global warming will magically disappear. Funny how this whole proposal comes on the heals of the Copenhagen summit AND Climategate. Do you sense the impending announcement that global warming has been corrected and all is right with the world, now that the Kenyans are no longer having too many children.

Now here is where my philosophical alarm bells are screaming to identify the false arguments of this theory. First: Since the introduction of artificial birth control in 1960 U.S. population has increased by 50%, Chinese population has doubled with forced birth control and other developing (and thriving) nations have doubled their populations. Click here for the stats Based on this evidence, promoting birth control will increase the population, not decrease it.

Second: How ethical is it for Sir David Attenborough to suggest that Kenyans in Africa should move out of the timeline in order for the Europeans to continue to pollute the world at will? Where does that make our society superior to the behavior of 18th and 19th century slaveowners? Doesn't that just prove that racism is still alive and well and living in Europe?

Finally: How does one measure the value of a single human life? Our president is the product of one Kenyan and one American. Is this a promotion of an anti-Obama sentiment? Or are some human beings not as valuable as others, simply due to their racial component?

I know....I know. We could honor Monty Python's Flying Circus much more effectively by simply suggesting the Fish Slapping Dance be employed as a method of eradicating undesirable English. Or better yet, let's just contemplate the idea that God knows what He (or She) is doing and let nature control itself with a killer swine flu. I do find it curious that the very same people insisting that we all need a swine flu vaccine are also suggesting that some countries should encourage birth control. Isn't nature simply addressing the concern on her own?

The greatest irony is that the body of individuals promoting this thought process is the very group that insists others should not force religion upon unsuspecting atheists. Are they not imposing their beliefs upon the rest of us by insisting on vaccines for swine flu, birth limitations and political ideologies? Don't get me wrong. I have a great and secret love for a few atheists. (Perhaps it is a lost puppy syndrome, but they make me think which prevents me from taking my existence for granted.) Some I believe are closet theists, but they shall remain anonymous. But where is the imposition of birth control a better public policy than the imposition of prayer in school? It does make a person wonder.

So for those of you who have the audacity to believe in God, I suggest you sit back and have a nice glass of California wine. No point in getting our panties into a bunch. Everything takes care of itself. Besides, this generation will eventually be wearing Depends and living in rest homes. I suspect the urgency of global warming and population control takes a back seat when you have trouble remembering what you said ten minutes ago.

Now, what were we talking about again?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Birthday to the Constitution of the United States of America

My daughter announced she needed to learn the Constitution Preamble. She asked me for help, and I proudly began to quote it...just like Barney Fife.



Embarrassed, I YouTubed the School House Rock song. Now, it runs through my head, reminding me the humble origins of our nation. I don't mind though. It makes me proud, given my family history in the establishment of this country, to know the Wings and Snows (yes, probably the same origins as Olympia...) probably debated to construct the document and fought to preserve the infant Republic, these United States of America.

Many people think our Constitution dropped out of the sky (or Thomas Jefferson's ink well) without any debate or discussion. Hardly. After a LONG fight for our country's independence from Great Britain, it took almost another ten years before the penning of this precious document. Why? For the same reason why all good things take time. They wanted to get it right.


A HISTORY OF THE CONSTITUTION
The United States Constitution was constructed on September 17, 1787 after months of conflicting views, heated debates and clashing ideas finally yielded to compromise and thoughtful reconsiderations. The founders of the Constitution were delegates appointed by the state legislatures to represent each state's welfare. They had first convened in the Philadelphia statehouse as a quorom of 55 emissaries on May 25, 1787. Of the thirteen original states, only independent-minded Rhode Island declined to participate. The group's express original purpose was to revise the Articles of Confederation, our nation's first constitution that was constructed in 1777 after the Revolutionary War with Great Britain.
Taken from http://supreme.lp.findlaw.com/documents/consthist.html

Debate was necessary to clarify the pro's and con's of what they were about to institute for all generations. It took time because the effort it required to get it right mandated all points of view to be considered. Farmers and businessmen, financiers and manufacturers, students and the educated, poor and rich all had to inject their positions so all might be incorporated into the document. As such, the debate then clarified the document we have today.

Debate will always be a critical component for the governance of any democracy. Our Founding Fathers knew this, and interjected the requirements of debate in the legislative process. But the debate isn't enough. Those who are in the debate must be willing to HEAR the arguments with careful consideration. Part of the whole debate process usually involves keeping an open mind. But if our Legislators enter the debate with a predetermined decision, the debate is rendered useless. In addition, the voice of the people must be heard by our legislators in order to weigh the information. We MUST keep this component at all costs. Otherwise, we will get things like a $1 Trillion dollar stimulus bill that wastes the future of our children's income. And we could end up with a Healthcare Reform system that cripples the country rather than cures it.

Today is the anniversary of this precious gift from our Founding Fathers. In their memory, and the memory of every soldier that has fought to preserve this document for our posterity, (which means future generations, not to be confused with prosperity, which is wealth) I am embedding it the School House Rock version of the Preamble so you all can have it run through your heads.


Surprise your kids with the song. Ask them to listen to the words. Discuss what they mean. Better yet, read the Constitution. Then ask yourself, am I willing to die to preserve this document, and its principles and values?

Finally, go to a veteran's website or memorial and say a prayer for any soldier who gave their life for the defense of this great country. Say a prayer for those who defend it today. And pray that George Washington's vision comes to pass. "While the stars remain, and the heavens send down dew upon the earth, so long shall the Union last." Amen.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Every Conservative Should Have a Liberal Friend

I, like most conservatives, have strong opinions about how healthcare reform should be approached. Because I was raised conservative, I just assumed liberals had very little to contribute due to the preconceived notions I held. (I.e., Every liberal is a secret, card-carrying communist, etc.) I figured all liberals really wanted in the healthcare debate was power and control. I saw them as ideologues who wanted to use society as a petrie dish for their philosophical theories. I may have been assuming a little too much.

I had a conversation with liberal friend I hadn't seen since high school. I also had another conversation with a liberal acquaintence from high school. In the course of these conversations, I was inspired to investigate and research the healthcare problem as a whole, partly out of anger. Based on the information I uncovered, I am beginning to realize why both had such a passion about the issue.

We, as a generation, are on the cusp of one of the most overwhelming moments in healthcare history. The baby boom generation are entering the retirement years, just as the healthcare industry has morphed into a multi-billion dollar industry. While I understand this is precisely what made America the most advanced country for medical care, it is also the most expensive. The two trains are speeding towards each other at top speed, and they are on the same track.

Aetna, one of the largest healthcare insurance providers, recorded 1.3 billion in profits for 2008. M.D. Anderson, one of the largest private "non"profit hospitals recorded $310 million in net revenue (aka, profit...called net revenue for tax purposes)just in 2008 alone, and they paid their president well over 1.8 million in salary last year. This is a NON profit hospital...ergo, no taxes. They claim to spend the rest on their charitible endowments, while at the same time, demanding cash up front for share of cost from their patients. This seemed incredulous to me, especially given the whining both groups have done recently about not being able to stay financially afloat. Obviously, they are gearing up for a long winter.

For those of you preparing the traditional Free Market Mantra of "the laws of supply and demand...yada yada yada," hold your breath a second. This was my error at first as well. The problem is we are facing the recession/depression (lower disposable incomes) coupled with the baby boomers entering the age of highest healthcare demand.

The first Boomers will turn 65 in 2011 and, according to today's report, more than 37 million of them—six out of 10—will be managing more than one chronic condition by 2030. Also by 2030:

*14 million Boomers will be living with diabetes—that's one out of every four Boomers.
*Almost half of the Boomers will live with arthritis and that number peaks to just over 26 million in 2020.
*More than one out of three Boomers—over 21 million—will be considered obese.

As patients live with multiple chronic diseases, demand for services will increase. The number of physician visits has been increasing for all adults, up 34 percent over the last decade, and this trend is expected to continue. By 2020, Boomers will account for four in 10 office visits to physicians. Over the next 20 years, Boomers will make up a greater proportion of hospitalizations as they live longer but with multiple complex conditions. At the same time, the number of registered nurses, primary care and specialty physicians will not keep pace with demand.



This comes from www.poststat.net/rightathome/pub.59/issue.554/article.2359/ , a caregivers website.

In other words, the hope for supply and demand to regulate down the price of healthcare, with or without insurance, is pretty slim to none.

OK, now prepare for something to hit you on the side of the head.

Bearing all this in mind:
1. Healthcare costs are going to skyrocket with the increased demand,
2. The Medicare plan is ALREADY paid by the government, only the government also pays a middleman (the insurance administrator) to process the claims, and
3. Healthcare demands are going to limit access NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, even WITH health insurance for every American...

Doesn't it make sense to CONSIDER a direct pay option? Why are we giving a middleman (Aetna and their 1.3 billion in profits) the power to limit our care further? What about an HMO system provided just for seniors? Set up a managed care system for the retired Americans, and allow the non-profits to manage them. (They DID say they were non-profit.) Medicare payments to providers must be reduced to stay solvent. Wouldn't it make more sense to create a salaried position for a doctor to work exclusively with an HMO rather than leave it arbitrary? As unpleasant as it sounds, it may be the only way to control the enormous costs.

By removing the seniors from the private system (as they already are) it frees up the doctors and hospitals to provide more care for the regular insurance paying patients. In other words, we push down the demand, freeing up the supply. Allow the rest of the system to remain intact, with a few tweeks, like allowing the purchase of prescription drugs internationally and lift the restrictions on medical savings plans so it doesn't penalize the people who save but are healthy. A mandated purchase of health insurance will no longer be necessary when doctors lose 40% of their patient load. Or premiums will go down, as the insurance industry no longer has to subsidize the high utilization of elderly patients.

Also, how about focusing on prevention, such as naturopathic medicine (chiropractors, allergists, etc.) who advise adjusting food consumption and increasing activities rather than go on medication to manage cholesteral, diabetes, etc. For example: I had skyrocketting cholesterol and was borderline Type II diabetes. Instead of using Lipitor ($75 a month) and other diabetic controlling drugs, I went to a doctor who tested me for allergies. After eliminating the offending foods (wheat) from my diet, my blood sugar went down to that of a 20 year old, as did my cholesterol!

I'm not suggesting we need to all go organic (although I'm sure my eldest would be happy if I did,) or that the government will fix everything, but we can't just stick our heads in the sand on this one. It will sneak up on us while our heads are buried and bite us in the butt.

Oh, and to my liberal friends (you both know who you are) and my liberal leaning children, thank you for your patience. Debate is a painful process, but well worth the effort. If we are patient, we might just get through this mess!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Adults with ADD, or Welcome to Facebook!

I have officially become a member of the Facebook Community and I couldn't be more unhappy. I realize that the Internet has become a gift to those looking for long lost friends and family, but sometimes the past is, well, better left in the past.

I joined Facebook at the behest of several friends. They were looking for me, and I can't imagine why. I always knew where I was. But, it sounded fun, so I joined. It was like going back in time, and WHAM! All those people you enjoyed the company of while in high school were there, with their not-so-high school-ish physiques (well, all but Paul DiGi...the bodybuilding is obviously still a hobby!) It was comforting to know that, although we all started at different points in the looks catagory, we are now in about the same place with our graying hair, our belly rolls, and our proud parent pictures.

What I didn't expect was to find the lack of attention everyone has in conversing. In a blog, I get to state a point, give the supports to that point and invite others to make commentary, pro or con. It is civilized, productive and reasonable. Facebook is very different. An opinion or thought (random, usually) is thrown out to the general community and everyone gets to throw their two cents into the hat. It's like I'm back home and all the opinions carry more weight than my own. There is no civilized debate, because they all flit from one page to another, randomly commenting on what so-and-so is doing, or something that came up in the news or some weird animal a widget declared them to be. It is all surface, and substance seems to be as rare as the Obama Healthcare Bill. Lots of talk, but in the end, very little meaning.

I did have one quality discussion with an individual I knew would be reliable, and one that went very wrong. It was initiated in response to the President's speech regarding healthcare. Now, this individual was always known for quick wit and biting remarks, so in fairness, I should not be offended. But I was alarmed at the sheer hostility when a person (namely, me) disagreed with his opinion. His opinion was, of course, that noone should die because they couldn't afford healthcare. I would agree with this statement, but I disagreed with the solution. This immediately made me the target of his wrath.

I began to realize, too late, that going on Facebook would also be time travel back to high school and all its immaturity. It became a game of taunts, as though we were all teenagers again. And due to the nature of Facebook, the conversations are started, and dropped as quickly as they start. Attention is distracted to the newest random thought a friend posts.

Now, I understand that intelligent debate was not made for Facebook. I realize that email is a better medium for this type of conversation. But it never ceases to amaze me how rude people feel they are allowed to be when talking on an internet. My own daughter has been known for biting remarks when sending an email. It is probably related to the ADD approach to the internet. We don't have time to reread our notes, and we click that send button before we consider how the other person might interpret our words.

So, I am returning to blogging my thoughts. I believe politics and religion are far too important to waste on random thoughts tranmitted through Facebook and Twitter. Some subjects need careful thought, reconsideration, and intelligent observation before replying. Reasonable discussions must begin with clear and cohesive thoughts, not random ones. And biting remarks only distract and hurt.

So for all you out there discussing the Healthcare Reform issue, I suggest reading the various issues facing Medicare payments and the government response. Look at the amount the government will be expected to pay in the next four years. It is the clue to why the panic is overcoming Congress.

And for those of you who would like to read more about the issue, here is a link to an article by the AMA about the projections of Medicare spending: http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2008/04/14/gvl10414.htm After you read it, you'll understand why the members of Congress are defecating all over themselves.

Then we can BRAINSTORM ideas. And remember...reread before hitting the 'post' button!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Failures that Make Us Successful

My daughter called me this morning in a state of panic. Her distress, an 'indiscretion' made by her new husband, was the source of great hurt and worry. It was a small thing, really, unless you put all the puzzle pieces together and realize it was just the symptom of a much bigger problem.

Her dismay was augmented by being 31 weeks pregnant, just at the beginning of the 'balloon phase' of pregnancy, where the woman begins to look (and walk) like a balloon on a stick. She enters the place of 'I look ugly' in her mind. I suspect it could be proven she is the ONLY one who thinks this way, because I, like most people, have never seen a pregnant woman I thought looked ugly or fat. Most men have a reverance and awe during this phase (not to be confused with shock and awe...that comes at the moment of delivery.) So her fear is probably the genesis of her dismay. Her fear is of losing what she once had, a girls free and easy life, to the one carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. This would be known as the "Oh My God! I'm responsible for this tiny little person," phase. This phase hits women first.

Men usually only experience it after the "shock and awe" phase (see definition above.) Although delayed in men, it is profoundly more grandiose, and it makes them become REAL men. REAL men start to realize the pretty girls laying in seductive positions are actually someone's baby girl, much like their own. It makes them want to buy guns with sniper scopes on them. Protective responsibility seems to be the motive, as demonstrated recently by my daughter's own father.

It makes a man want to defend his home, or trailer, with a Tim 'the Toolman' Taylor level of 'more power.' Logic doesn't seem to play into it, as anyone with a decent can opener could break into their trailer, but the intruder may reconsider acting on his desires if he sees an angry father in boxer shorts holding a rifle with a sniper scope, firmly planted on his face.

This defense of the home is the instinctive nature of most male species. Territory is everything, and giving their offspring a safe environment to grow and thrive is the purpose. But modern society has temptations and distractions that make this more difficult. Thus the reason my daughter was so distressed. She needn't worry, because MOST men eventually realize they are being distracted and stop the behavior. We, women, need to understand when we are being impatient and give the guys a chance to grow up. Sometimes it comes soon after birth, but it almost always comes by the time their baby girl grows past puberty and into a size D cup.

This is the whole thing about life. All we see right now is viewed differently with the eyes of wisdom. The sexy woman on a porn video stops looking so sexy when the man watching her views her from a father's eyes. In fact, most things look different when viewed with the Father's Eyes. Mistakes become learning tools. Trips along the way become learning experiences that teach us how to be better people.

So don't dwell on the failures. Failures are just the process by which we all learn. And those learning experiences are what lead us to success.

And, for the record, beer summits are not 'teaching moments.' However, with enough beers, people have been known to THINK they are professors! At 10 beers, you are a philosopher. At 11, a theologian. At 12, university professors.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

To be or not to be....mentally unstable.

I got some juicy news tonight and I am coming apart at the seams trying to contain myself. I have heard my sister, the one that thinks I am mentally unstable, is throwing my parents a surprise, 50th wedding anniversary party. Everyone is invited, of course. Well, everyone but me and my offspring. I suppose this is understandable, given the animosity they still hold. I was once told, "Never associate with crazy people." So, it seems appropriate that they don't want me there.

I am so very tempted to send a note of regret that I won't be in attendance to my mother, who absolutely despises surprise parties (or so she has always claimed,) thus letting the cat out of the bag. I mean, if they all hate me already, there's no destroying any relationships in telling her. After all, if I am mentally unstable, they can hardly hold it against me for doing something as mentally unstable as spilling the beans to my parents. Crazy people do crazy things, right?

Then I began to realize the sheer pleasure it must be to be considered 'mentally unstable.' Imagine a place where you can do anything you want and say whatever you think, and at the end of it all, simply exhonorate yourself by claiming, "After all, I AM mentally unstable!" Think of the people you could insult and the bizarre things you could do with a nice little caveat like that! And you don't even have to go to confession because a crazy person is not considered responsible for his sins. Man, that would be such a fun way to live!

It worked for so many others in the past, and even Hitler was deemed to be somewhat looney. This all got me thinking. If Jesus was known for making crazy people sane, was He really doing them any favors by making them stable again? Why would God take that gift away from me? OK, so my family isn't talking to me. Big deal. Imagine the stuff I could do and the things I can say, now that I am mentally unstable. I don't even have to be logical in my thinking! I can support Proposition 8 and not worry about gay retribution. I can be anti-Obama and not worry about the Huffington Post declaring me to be ignorant (as they have done to so many other mentally stable types.) I could even vote for Sarah Palin and not worry about my liberal leaning adult children thinking I am a right wing extremist. I'll just be that 'crazy woman.'

Only one problem. I'm not crazy...or at least, I don't think I am. Crazy people never think they're crazy. So I am back to square one. What if I'm NOT crazy? You mean, I really AM a right wing extremist?

*sigh* Maybe just for a day...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Retroactive Abortion

I have been retroactively aborted. I think it happened 3 years ago, but it actually might have happened a lot longer ago. Retroactive abortion isn't as physically painful as actual abortion (I don't think) but it is emotionally painful.

It happens when someone chooses to excommunicate their own child which, consequently, excommunicates that child's family. Sometimes this is for the best, especially if the child is a sociopath killer. No one wants to go to a family reunion wondering if they will go home in a wooden box. But in most cases, Retroactive Abortion (RA for short) happens when a dysfunctional family decides their chosen scapegoat has exceeded their allowance for being human.

In my case, it was based on a comedy of errors and a very minor issue. Grandma got sick. Dad had to put her in a home. Grandma didn't want to go in a home. Grandma kicked up a stink and someone called Adult Protective Services to report Dad trying to starve Grandma and hold her against her will. Dad thought it was me. My mistake was in taking Grandma seriously when she said she wanted to kill herself. I called In Home Support Services (same department as APS) to get in home suicide counselling for Grandma because Dad wouldn't talk to me anymore for some unknown reason. Dad thought I was trying to get custody of my 93 year old grandma when I had 7 children and Multiple Sclerosis. (See how absolutely retarded this is all beginning to sound?) Dad had a visit from the police who advised him not to starve Grandma. Dad assumed, along with the rest of his over reactive, mentally unstable family that I had reported this.

I had NOT. Of course, in these cases, the truth is irrelevant. All that matters is if it SOUNDS plausible. The reason for this is because people who are that determined to fill the role of hero must have a villain as their antagonist. The reason this is a retroactive abortion is not because my father excommunicated me, but because my mother did so a very long time ago. I think it was because I came too soon after her second child (15 months.) That, and she was only a baby herself (18.)She has, at best, merely tolerated me, although she was always there to fulfill the role of mother when others were watching. But she never really liked or accepted who I was. I was the fat, bad complexion, ugly child. Instead of obsessing over my figure with hours of Pilates, I read books. Theology and history were my favorites. I didn't agree with everyone around me. I challenged the thought of the status quo. In a word, I didn't make her look good, and that was unforgivable.

Memories of her include the time I told her I hated her (I was about 3 or 4) and she told me she hated me too. (I have dealt with this same situation by saying the obvious, NORMAL thing, which was "Well, you can hate me all you want, but I will ALWAYS love you!") I was told I was a slut while I was still a virgin because I was reading Erich Fromm's book called "The Art of Loving" (not a porno book, a philosophical piece.) At this, I took out the book, turned to the chapter on Unconditional Maternal Love (Erich's example of the purest form of love) and read to her his definition. This type of love, loves the subject regardless of their actions or behaviors. It is the reason mothers of serial killers insist on their child's innocence. My mother couldn't understand this concept. It was foreign to her.

My mother isn't a bad person. She just doesn't understand love. Maybe due to being adopted two weeks after birth and not bonding well with her adoptive mother, maybe because she has some innate genetic predisposition to not allowing others in, she found the greatest power was in not giving approval to anyone. People pleasers like me would crave it, and keep trying. It didn't matter how much my mother belittled me, demoralized me or ignored me. I kept trying. Affection from her consisted of having her go to great lengths to pop zits on my face. Her nail marks were all over my face, and if I tried to squirm away, she would slam my head against the wall. That was the equivalent of a hug. And my father would ignore it all.

So when I was retroactively aborted, I was crushed. But my own adult children asked the obvious question, "WHY?" I can't give a good answer to that question.

I had vowed to be a different kind of mother, and I am. I adore my children. I took Erich Fromm's words to heart. I love each of my children, in their uniqueness, regardless of the appearance, weight, complexion or actions. I see each as a beautiful gift from God, each with their own unique contribution to humanity. I hug and kiss them often, just as my Grandma did to me. I encourage them to be better when they misstep, and I rejoice in their accomplishments.

My eldest is going to have her first full book published. It is coming out in the Spring of 2010. My parents won't see the irony in the subject matter. It is about surrogate motherhood. It starts off unbiased, but it brings the reader to a conclusion that most won't expect. As noble as it may seem, being a bio mom only is a selfish approach to life. The greatest gift is not in the birthing, but in the gift of the whole lifelong mothering.

So Mom, if you read this, thanks. You made me who I am, and you have now given me the freedom to be everything I and my children can be. Unwittingly, you have helped me give the one thing you could never give me yourself. You helped me give unconditional love. And the payoff has been a thousand fold.

For those of you who have been retroactively aborted, let's make a support group. We need to find each other, and be a family.

Oh wait...we already have that. It is called the Catholic Church.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lessons in Parenting Adults

After a long, weary, 17 hour trip we finally arrived in sunny California from Ireland. The kids were amazingly good, considering the agony of 11 hours on a plane with too few bathrooms and too many drinks. We survived the drive home from Frisco, forgetting how bad traffic at 3 pm can be. When we walked in the door, we were greeted with the smell of tacos cooking, courtesy of my daughter's future mother in law. It was a nice homecoming, and I was glad to get home.

Then, I went to my room. Remind me never to leave a $500 silk comforter on a bed when an 18 year old is living in the house alone. Have you ever seen silk stained by shaving cream, washed in a washing machine and ironed with an iron that was too hot? That was the view I was greeted with when I finally retreated to the bedroom. My daughter had been using our home like a frat house, and the surprises were just beginning.

As we began to actually clean the rooms (rather than the typical brush through most college aged kids are renown for doing) we discovered half eaten sandwiches, half filled cola cans and bugs I didn't know that could eat those things. Then we discovered the Piece de resistance....new and used condoms under the bed.

Now, I'm not an idiot. I knew my daughter might be having parties while I was away, but I thought she'd cover her tracks a little better than that! And either the girls were pulling trains, or the guy was a virgin who was trying every condom brand known to man. I am deceiving myself into believing the latter.

Now, if I had just found them in one room, I would think I needed to have a chat with my daughter. But after sucking one too many 'johnnies' (as the Brits call it) in the vacuum, I realized my house had been turned into a half way house for recovering nymphomaniacs. The only comic relief I found in the entire episode was the sheer volume of used, yet empty of human bodily fluid, condoms I did find. The mental images of a bumbling teen boy trying desperately to don a condom before the moment was lost eternally was too delicious to ignore. Imagine an 18 year old boy, having his first big chance in a house with no other REAL adult supervision, and the anticipation of finally 'getting the girl', only to discover he would have been better served to practice his dressing skills on a banana first! Throw a beer into the mix and I began to realize the opportunity that was lost to ME! I should have had video cameras installed in every bedroom, monitoring these activities. Imagine the hits on YouTube I would have gotten!

The moral of the story: If your 18 year old promises ANYTHING in order to stay at home alone, for any amount of time, install video cameras. At the very least, it will force your 18 year old to face her demons. At best, it could be sold on a very X rated version of "America's Home Video's."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

When all else fails...

I had a curious conversation with my 9 year old daughter today, as I washed her hair. Her hair goes all the way down to her bottom, so it is an ordeal that usually involves bending, wringing and soaping a couple times. Ironically, her conversation escapes me now. I don't know if this means I'm getting old, or if I just wasn't listening.

Listening is an art. It doesn't come easily. It requires concentration and integration, both of which I am deficient in. However, I fake it well. I learned how to listen better when my son was diagnosed with Autism. You would think it would be the reverse, since Liam rarely spoke. But I tuned my ear to listen to anything that might remotely sound like the word "Mommy." Funny, since I hear it incessantly from my 3 year old control freak. But with Liam, it was a precious moment and I listened intently for the day when he would finally utter the words.

He did...and does. Once he figured out how to say it, he soon discovered it was the fastest way to get what he wanted. It took over 5 years, but at least he says it now. Within two years, he went from a couple word vocabulary to a plethora of words, sometimes mixed up together in weird combinations. How? He listened. He googles You Tube to find it on the internet. He goes to Disney.com and plays the same trailers over and over and over. He reads everything he can find. (We later discovered he was reading all along since about 3 1/2...but like any genius, he also realized he had more attention when WE thought he couldn't understand us!)

Now Liam listens...too well. Every word I DON'T want him to repeat, he says. He has a unique way of painting a picture with words. When he has his hand slapped, he tells me his daddy has 'angry hands.' When he wants to eat something, he asks us if WE would like some first. (Knowing the logical next step if we don't want it is to offer him some...smart. This worked for a little while. Then we figured out we were being played.) Now, he almost sounds like any ordinary kid. He says, "Wow, it's so cool!" and "What the ...?" Of course, he says it three or four times in a row, but as long as he doesn't fill in the blank on that last phrase, I'm good with it.

Autism doesn't make your kid stupid. Quite the contrary. It exercises a part of his brain most of us probably never use. Liam is intuitive, too. Each morning that I am determined to be romantic with my husband is the one morning he just can't seem to find something and he requests my help. Of course, when he requests, it is like hearing SpongeBob laugh over and over and over. (Thanks Gayle.) It is the best form of birth control there is, and I am a firm believer that the Catholic church should exploit this idea if they want to win a few friends.

He also knows when my husband has bought popcorn, even though he can't see where my husband put it. He loves popcorn, and lives for it when we have it. God only knows why. Something in the chewing I guess. But if the world ceased to have popcorn, Liam would find it somewhere on the planet and ask for more. And when he can't find it, he will suggest it...again, and again, and again.

Autistic kids learn through repetition. A LOT of repetition. The autistic mind learns best by doing things over and over and over. Thus, the reason why Spongebob is so popular with them. He is just LIKE them! This repetition has trained my mind in the process, even though I'm not autistic.

So I was surprised when I couldn't remember what I had discussed with my daughter. I usually pride myself in knowing what my kids are thinking and needing. This time, I was gone. Nobody home. The brain took a holiday and left the body behind. Sad. I think it had something to do with our planned return to California, an owl sanctuary in Ireland we were supposed to visit before we left, and a determination that her best friend is not very friendly when around a little boy that teases her (but we secretly know the kid has a horrible crush on my daughter.) There was also something about me promising to let her take only showers in California (the water pressure sucks here.) Oh yeah, and a question as to whether horses in California make me sneeze like the horses at Markree Castle did last weekend.

Finally, after rambling endlessly about the glories of locking bathroom doors and more than one toilet in the house, she looked up at me with a look that defied her years and said, "You haven't listened to a single thing I said, have you?"

I said I didn't. I guess I did afterall.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Parenting Our Government: The Cost of Giving In

My three year old has mastered the concept of verbal assault like a professional special interest lobbyist. She lurks in a room, just long enough to take stock of the situation. Once she sees an opportunity, she pounces like a lionness. The attack is swift, and I rarely have time to think, much less consider her demands. "What is that? Why are you doing that? What is that thing for? Can I have that? I want that...can I have it? I want that NOW! Mom, can I have it? MOOOOOMMMMM! I want that NOW!!!"

After ten minutes, the neural synapses fire simultaneously, driving me to acquiesce, in order to stop the hammering in my head caused by her incessant begging. Half the time, she gets what she wants and simply starts asking for something else. Like any pre-schooler, the power and control isn't in the getting, it is in the demanding after being refused, and THEN the getting. In a way, she could mentor a Washington lobbyist in methodology. Moreso, if what she wants isn't possible, she just demands louder and screams until every nerve in my body is raw. I become willing to give her ANYTHING, just to preserve my sanity. Just shut the kid UP!

As a parent, I know to give into her rants and demands are only going to successfully create a monster. I have to be firm in my parenting and nip the manipulation in the bud by putting her in another room as soon as the pitch on her whining reaches a certain decibel level.

Special interest groups operate in much the same way in our country. They scream and kick until they get their way, or they simply bombard us until we grow so weary, we just want to shut them up. And much like my three year old, they are never satisfied when they achieve their objective. They just change the demand. As long as their demands are being heard and eventually met, they are in control. That is really all they want.

Those special interest groups represent the business people whining about the cost of health insurance, insurance companies complaining they can't control the costs of medical care and medical care providers complaining too many people are showing up for care that don't have insurance, forcing them to increase the costs of health care to the patients. The funny thing in all this is one simple reality: In the early eighties, the government gave into fear mongering (by hospitals) that the baby boom generation was going to meet untimely deaths unless they had government health insurance. Medicare and Medicaid were born.

But by placing a third party between the producer (physician/hospital) and the consumer (patient), we unwittingly created a delayed reaction in the supply/demand cycle. Throw licensing boards into the equation, and the ugly truth is, we were better off 30 years ago when the average person didn't have medical insurance, and simply paid out of pocket to see a doctor or go to the hospital. If you examine the cost of inflation rate to the rate of medical care costs, you will be able to pinpoint exactly when the government got their grubby little hands involved in healthcare the LAST time:



The perceptive person will notice the dramatic increase of costs just in the last two years when the discussion for government sponsored healthcare for all reached a fevered pitch in the last few months. Coincidence? I doubt it. You'll notice a dramatic increase in medical care inflation right about the time Billary were introducing their idea for socialized medicine in the early 90's. Wow...what a real coincidence! Talk about frothing at the mouth!

You see, there was a time when the cost of medical care rose only as high as the cost of inflation. It changed when the Medicare program was introduced, along with Medicaid. The 'costs' were suddenly through the roof when hospitals and doctors noticed there was an open ended check from the government. They found it was very lucrative to buy up hospitals, make major corporations out of them, and bill up the wazoo to get every dime out of the government. Of course, after the government realized the stupidity of care without cost controls, they introduced Diagnosis Related Groups (DRG's to those of us who have spent too much time in the Medical industry.) This meant, if a patient showed up with a diagnosis of heart attack, the government estimated the average amount of time for being in the hospital, bypass surgery and recovery time, and paid only the average, regardless of where the care was given, who gave it or how long the actual recovery rate was. The flat rate was born, and hospitals now had an incentive to push people out of the hospital before they were ready to go, if they had exceeded their max number of allowed days in the hospital. Add to that the need to deal with a new onslaught of patients who now 'bought into' the Medicare system and you have a nice little nightmare just waiting to be experienced.

Now Pres. Obama (PO as in, I'm PISSED OFF, from now on) wants to take over the current medical care system to "reduce costs." Um...maybe he hasn't noticed, but that was the objective the LAST time they did this, and it only drove the costs UP. Now, if PO doesn't want to force his plan on every tax payer, he won't be able to afford it. If he does, he hasn't fully understood the definition of socialized medicine. And the concept hasn't really been presented honestly to him. If he wants that, he wants to destroy the medical industry in the U.S.

That is because socialized medicine in every country that has it does two things: It drives up the cost of medical care for everyone, and it reduces the quality of that care. Rationing isn't a 'fear mongering' concept. It is real, here in socialized medicine Ireland. Ask anyone who gets cancer. They must wait in line to get surgery (12 months in some areas.) They must wait in line to see specialists. (It has taken me two full years to get an appointment with a neurologist for my M.S.) A psychologist's evaluation for my autistic son is still a pending issue, and it took over 18 months to get occupational therapy for his care. This is AFTER having a diagnosis (which takes a psychologist AND a neurologist.) Ireland does boast the lowest rate of a lot of conditions, but then again, noone bothers to get diagnosed, because it takes so long.

Now understand, I appreciate the care I have gotten. Our GP is very kind, and the nursing care is very good. But overall, it isn't top of the line. The structure discourages the best from getting the best appointments, and the appointments to the highest positions are very politicized. Imagine Barney Frank appointing the Department Head for Dietary Nutrition...or Nancy Pelosi selecting the Head of Psychiatry. Better yet, imagine Katherine Sebilius appointing the Head of Obstetrics. We would all have dead babies.

There aren't any socialized medicine systems that have a single payer system and advanced quality medical care. I believe it will never work in the U.S. Our culture in the U.S. is too conditioned to demand the best. But they can't hold up to the bureaucracy of the Federal Government. It will drive us back into non-participating physicians who only want cash for care. We will be forced to select from a small minority of doctors, and we will be locked into paying for a government system that is ineffective, administration heavy and not cost contained. Either that, or they will be something reminiscent of Logan's Run.

My point is, be careful about giving into the whining on this one. It is like the constant badgering from my three year old. She begs, whines and screams for a piece of cheese, but within an hour, the cheese causes her to develop asthma that chokes her airway almost to the point of suffocation. I can't give in on the cheese, so she will survive, and thrive. It is the same with the healthcare system. It simply takes looking at other models for socialized medicine and evaluating THEIR success. (Yes, Ireland has a two payer system too...doesn't mean a damned thing except the wait for a neurologist is shaved down to 12 months.)

It may be better to just return to the direct payment system, where doctors and hospitals have to set their prices based on the amount people can reasonably pay. We can always go back to paying for major medical insurance. Insurance should be insurance for the unlikely eventuality that we are hit with a catastrophic situation...not a common cold.

Otherwise, the whining is just going to intensify, only it will be coming out of our own mouths, in order to just get in for a test or for a visit with a specialist.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Vices and Virtues: When the Church Cleans House, Try Using a Broom of Humility

Every time I attend Mass, I have to ask myself my motivation for being there. I know I can no longer look to a charismatic leader as justification for attendance. I had better be there to see Jesus, and no one else. And as much as I like my own pastor, I don't know if I trust any other priest is what they claim to be. Bottom line, priests are human, no matter what they think of themselves.

When I was a little girl, it was tantamount to a mortal sin to believe a priest was capable of sinning. Grandma said we were supposed to pray for them, because they are shepherds for Christ. The past few weeks, nay, the past few decades, these shepherds have shown to be subject to the same human weaknesses as the rest of us. In some cases, much worse. And when they weaken, the whole flock is put at risk.

Canada, Belgium, the U.S. and now Ireland have seen unbelievable atrocities committed "in the name of Christ." Some include physical violence, but most were of the sexual nature. Everyone is asking how this could have happened. I can tell you in one simple word: Power. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely. The clowns running the show at the top were either unable or unwilling to force the clowns running the show at the local level to clean house and get their act together. So rather than clean up the mess, they brushed it under a rug. However, it didn't change the problem. The dirtbags were still there...just not as visible to the people attending the show.

I just discovered a 'secret' Vatican document (not so secret because the BBC has it posted and available at BBC News expose. ) So, way back in 1962, probably before most of us were born, Cardinal Ottoviani, approved supposedly by John the 23rd, put forth a letter, basically threatening the faithful with excommunication for discussing any sexual abuse they endured at the hands of a priest:
Lawyers representing victims of sex abuse have claimed that in 1962 Ottaviani wrote a policy that stated that anyone speaking out about sexual abuse (or attempted abuse) by priests could be expelled from the Roman Catholic Church.[6] The Crimen sollicitationis document imposed absolute secrecy on the conduct of investigations of priests, even after it had ended and its verdict, favourable or unfavourable.

The 69 page document was titled, On the Manner of Proceeding in Cases of the Crime of Solicitation and was stored in the "secret archives" of the Vatican. It was discovered in the Vatican's archives by a lawyer pursuing cases on behalf of victims of abuse by Catholic priests.[7] The document instructed Bishops to pursue these cases "in the most secretive way...restrained by a perpetual silence...and everyone (including the alleged victim) ...is to observe the strictest secret, which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office...under the penalty of excommunication."


No wonder Grandma silenced me. She was of the mindset that to discuss anything that would lead the world to think priests weren't perfect would lead to excommunication! Great. Well, now we know. Ultimately, Cardinal Ottaviani was single handedly enabling every pedophile priest on the face of the earth, in perpetuity. Remind me to thank the jerk when I see him on the other side. Better yet, I'll pray for his soul. I hear Purgatory is lovely and warm this time of eternity! Now, in fairness to the Cardinal, he referenced a plethora of documents on the handling of these and the "Worst Crime" (homosexuality) that were dated from 1867 onwards. What in Hell??? You mean to tell me we've been hiding this muck in the Church for THAT long????

OK, now my blood is BOILING! Remember Fatima, Medjugore, Lourdes and all the other places where the Blessed Mother appeared? Were these Church guys NOT getting the message, or what? Hellooooo???!!!! If your mother comes all the way from the OTHER side of eternity to tell you to get your shit together, and you ignore it, what do you think is going to happen to you when you finally DIE? How much more important must it be to listen if it is the Mother of Jesus Himself??? Is He gonna be real happy with your idiot reason "But we were trying to keep it secret to protect the image of the Church" as an answer to the THOUSANDS of souls destroyed in the process? Bear in mind, this is the same guy who told us how He would leave the entire flock of sheep to go looking for the one lost sheep. That is how much each lamb means to Him. Do you seriously believe He's going to buy your answer? SHEESH!!!

Now, let's put this all into perspective, shall we? The Church dealt with the longstanding problem of pedophilia by mandating secrecy, and now the top dogs are surprised when the flock dwindles and those who abandoned the Church start talking? Better yet, they all act 'shocked' when they see the report in print, despite the fact that Pope after Pope since 1867 have had to address it in documents! Where have they been? On Mount Ararat looking for the Ark? In other words, a Pope paved the way to silence witnesses and protect the abusers. Now they are all backpedalling to look like they were on top of the problem all along. Talk about the biggest bullsh*t stunt in history! If you believe that, I have some beachfront property in Death Valley, California to sell you!

So what do we, as the REAL Church, do with the muck that has surfaced? Frankly, cleaning house, as John Waters eloquently wrote this week, is the only way to prove we really believe Jesus is coming back. (Frankly, I hope it is a long way off, because if He comes back now, He's going to be pissed!) Pope Benedict the 16th has the right idea. He is not going to sit back on the Throne of Peter (by the way, the original one was a simple, wooden chair...not very regal) and wait for the political Church hacks to come up with an idea. He announced he is taking a hands on approach (code for 'he's not buying the con job') and is going to monitor the actions of the Church in Ireland.

I have a couple ideas for His Holiness, if he's even slightly interested. First, think it through. Jesus allowed His Mother to address the issue. Perhaps what you need more of within the hierarchy of the Church is a mother's perspective. Stop hiring all the academia types to 'advise' you on how to deal with these child rearing issues (pun intended.) Hire a few moms with kids (preferably those with more than 3...any less is not enough experience) and get THEM to find the right solutions when this crap happens.

Second, don't make it secret. Encourage the victims to report it to the police. It is NOT your job to judge it. Your job is to teach the world about Jesus. Jesus told the apostles in the Great Commission to "go forth, teaching all nations, baptizing". No mention of acting as mediator between victim and perpetrator in criminal cases. Keep to your own job.

Third, consider allowing married priests in the Western Church. The Eastern Rites have had them since the beginning, and I don't recall hearing of the same volume of pedophile priests on that side of the aisle. I am only guessing, but it might be due to the influence wives tend to have on their spouses to keep them honest. That, and a priest with his own kids is going to be less likely to inflict sexual aggression on children because he wouldn't want it for his own kids.

Finally, tell the Bishops in Ireland to stop hobnobbing with Robin Leach and his Rich and Famous. Get back into the business of shepherding the flock. If power and riches weren't so much of a distraction, maybe the "Princes of the Church" would have more time to notice when the children are being raped by their priests! (Ok, that was a stretch. They all knew it was going on, based on the documents. They just didn't want to do anything about it.)

In other words, LIVE among the lowliest, not just among the wealthy! Get rid of all the palaces. If I recall correctly, Jesus didn't even have a place to rest His head, much less a palace. Make the hacks that claim to walk in the footsteps of the apostles actually try WALKING. Get rid of the chauffeurs, plush carpets, personal chefs and expensive furnishings. Give each of them a chair (wooden preferably...if it was good enough for Peter, it's good enough for them!) a desk, a small bed (like the small bed the Pope uses) and simple food. I've seen a bishop around here enjoy the pleasures of a good meal. It seems to be required if you want his attendance for anything anymore. That should NEVER be the case. (Hint, hint!)

Note to all Bishops: While you're at it, get your rugs outside and start shaking out ALL the dust that is under them. You won't win any brownie points from God because you intimidated people to keep silent when CRIMINALS were molesting and beating children. (However, you might get a nice cell in hell with a guy who wants to make you his girlfriend.)

Humility is a wonderful virtue. Unfortunately, the fastest way to obtain it is through humiliation. (Take it from one who knows!) Get a good dose of it before you try to pass the Church off as being rehabilitated.

As Saint Teresa of Avila said, don't beat yourself up over your flaws....CHANGE!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nutcracker Sweet Revenge: The Left, High School and Sarah Palin

What is it about the Right that brings out the acne-ridden, caustic, high school vicious Super-Id of the Elitist Left? First, Tina Fey relived her "Mean Girls" persona by mocking Sarah Palin with a bimbo idiot impression of her that made Tina Fey look more like a bee-atch than anything else. Next, Wanda Sykes cut down Rush Limbaugh with what can only be described as a wish for his death. Now, David Letterman goes after Sarah Palin AND her daughters with sophomoric...or sophomoronic...cutting remarks that are clearly threaded with more hate than humor.

This leaves me baffled. Sarah was appearing for a fundraiser to benefit Autism Awareness. Why did David Letterman take that opportunity to cut Sarah down? Does he not realize one in 150 kids deals with this condition? What happened to the empathy of the Left? Is this only reserved for empathy for THEM? Or did he think everyone was a lemming and would agree with his opinion?

Okay, David Letterman was probably not a looker when he was in high school, but he is a classic example of someone who was likely, the butt of the high school joke. He might have deflected attention away from his own gawkiness by making fun of someone else while throwing humor in it to make himself popular. The high school oppressed are now the adult adolescent oppressors.

Wanda Sykes and Tina Fey are the adult version of the class clown and high school cheerleader who would target the meeker, brainier kids because humiliating the less attractive ones was the fasttrack way to elevate their position in the social group. Keith Olbermann and Janeane Garofalo are classic example of the bitter, gothic types that hated everyone, and didn't care who they insulted. I used to know like each of them in school

In high school, everyone that was good looking, athletic or funny at the expense of another were allowed 'in'. Those who never grew beyond this method of self-preservation are doomed to live it eternally in their adult lives. Every one of them had their emotional maturity cease at high school graduation.

So why do they target Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh? Probably for the same reason they ridicule anyone who disagrees with them. Emotionally, they don't have the maturity to consider an opposing viewpoint. They can only tolerate speaking to someone who is like-minded. So they speak, no, froth at the mouth, about it to one another. However, it is all the same thing as what occurred in high school. The more inadequate they feel, the more they need to use the Right as a target.

Where David miscalculated was in his prodding. As long as he kept it at Sarah, it was ignored. But when the eedjit went after her daughter, Sarah's 'mother bear' instinct surfaced. In Alaska, mother bears are grizzly bears. Just as any grizzly bear would do, Sarah bit back hard. Now she is asking for an apology on behalf of all women. And damned right too.

You see, David made the mistake of showing his cards. He, like many on the Left, view motherhood with hostility. This is because motherhood means responsibility. If he gets a woman pregnant, HE must GROW UP. As long as abortion, birth control and sex without consequence is possible, he won't have to grow up at all. It is the classic Peter Pan syndrome. So the men on the Left hide behind a "woman's right to choose" as a justification, but in truth, they just want to boink without backlash.

He showed his hidden hostility towards women though, when he referred to Willow getting knocked up by A. Rod, or Sarah Palin dressing like a "slutty stewardess". He objectified women, and inadvertantly, displayed his real feeling towards them. He is prochoice, because it means HIS choices won't be affected. Why else would people like Hugh Hefner promote pornography and abortion, all in the same breath? They are hostile towards the power that motherhood offers. Instead, they marginalize and reduce women to mere playthings for their own pleasure. It puts them back in power and control. And the feminists fall for it, every time.

If feminists had wisdom, they would realize where the REAL power is. Their power is in the ability to create new life, and usher it into this world. It is the one thing men will NEVER be able to do.

It is in the power to influence that new life to live a virtuous life, to be compassionate and wise. It is in the ability to raise children to be a president, a philosopher, or a comedian that uses humor to build up others, not tear down fourteen year old girls that already have overwhelming challenges with public attention. True feminists realize when they are being played for fools. And they shut it down like a mother bear.

In a sense, Sarah is a nutcracker. She cracked down on the male chauvenism nut, David Letterman. She brought attention to his true opinion of women and shut it down with a simple response. Furthermore, she cracked down on his ego by refusing to appear on his show.

For the rest of us, it is a Nutcracker Sweet Revenge to see David Letterman apologize. Humble pie is always a dish best served cold, and David's lips were blue when he ate his slice of it! Perhaps he will learn the lesson and avoid sticking his hand in the cage of a mother grizzly again.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Everyday Theology: Finding Joy in an Unlikely Place

My three year old asked me to take her to the bathroom for the third time during Mass today. (Any coincidence it was Trinity Sunday? I wonder.) If there is a patron saint of weak bladders, my daughter needs to do a novena to that saint. While I hated climbing over all my children to get out, it was a relief to exit the church The last few weeks in Ireland have been a test of faith for me. Everything I thought I knew about the Catholic Church has been turned upside down and the people I thought were entrusted to preserve the faith have turned into her biggest enemy. The depression has become a dark cloud in my life. St. Teresa of Avila called it the dark night of the soul.

I decided to listen to the advice of my patron saint, Teresa of Avila. She advised her nuns to go outside when they were depressed so they could gaze into the sky. I wondered why she did that. Rather than question it though, I simply looked up in the sky and admired the clouds, listened to the singing of the birds, the gurgle of a stream and the peaceful quiet, occasionally interupted with the passing of gas by a small child. I couldn't help but giggle, and it was then that I understood why Teresa said this.

Life has plenty of things to make us depressed. St. Teresa used to say, "May God protect me from gloomy saints," meaning the morose, downcast version of piety was not what God wanted. Instead, St. Teresa was renown for a good sense of humor. She never took herself too seriously, and despite her holiness, she was lighthearted. She was often criticised for enjoying her own form of prayer, which bordered on fantasy conversations with God. While during life she was chastised for taking such a familiar approach to conversing with God, she was later declared a Doctor of the Church for her writings on prayer.

St. Teresa, like me, didn't much enjoy the long, drawn out, rote version of prayer. Carmelites are known for meditation and contemplation, but Teresa, a Carmelite, saw this as a chore. In fact, she used to dread the hour of prayer and would have gladly traded it for some form of heavy penance instead. Her mind was constantly going, and making her mind stop was akin to stopping a train moving at 65 miles an hour. So, she let her mind imagine speaking to angels, saints or Jesus himself. In a sense, she wrote about the development of a personal relationship with Christ. And for this, the bishops and many other religious criticised her.

Often times, she was not welcomed in a region because the bishop didn't want to hear it. They were too busy doing the "business" of the Church, and acting as God by condemning the people. This was the time of the Great Inquisition and the Church was taking an active role in the condemnation of souls, as they still walked the earth. It was a dark time in Church history, but it produced some incredible saints too.

As I thought abouth this, I realized this was the case again. The greatest good often exists where there is also the greatest evil. I'll leave it to the theologians to figure out why. Suffice to say, the things that are depressing me now are simply due to my inability to see the great saints that are in the making. But if I stop and listen, I can spot them around me, and thus find the joy that St. Teresa knew was out there somewhere.

So, I turned on the television and saw Father Jonathon Morris exchanging witty banter with the other Red Eye guests. It made me laugh at myself, and, for a little while, forget the depressing events of the past week. I went on the Internet and read some of the funny stuff written in the Activity Pit and on MySpace (Tammy Bruce has a wonderfully witty quote.) Only then did I realize, here is where God really lives and breathes. He resides in the hearts of those who do good. God doesn't need us to carry a label. We need that. He exists and acts through each of us. This is how the greatest good can exists in the same place as some of the most horrific evil. God works through us all, in our uniqueness and our ability to see joy in everyday life.

As the sound of a flushing toilet reminded me it was time to return to my pew, I was grateful for the few minutes of relief, both for my daughter and myself. I vowed to write it down, and thank those who allowed God's joy to spread through them, despite the great efforts of the evil in this world. Even though we disagree on some issues, God still speaks through each, and it is wonderful.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Interpret the Dream

Last night I had a very frightening dream. I was in a very tall building with many windows. There were many children around me, and I was responsible for guiding them through the building. A noise came from above, and there were windows right through the roof, even though the building was many stories high. I looked up, and saw what looked like the Space Shuttle or a very large plane falling to the earth. I could see the fire coming from the exhaust of the engine, or it could have been the engine itself falling through the building.

As if in slow motion, I gathered the children and instinctively dashed for a long, cement corridor. Turning into another corridor, I saw the fireball barrel through the hallway, and towards the children and me. The building we were in was coming down all around us, and it seemed as though a bomb hit. I could see waterpipes above falling to the ground, and I could feel the thunderous movement of the earth, as though the floor was being pulled out from us.

Oddly though, through all the chaos, the children were calm and unharmed. I could feel the burning of the air, but I myself was not on fire. Despite expecting to be consumed by the fire, it did not harm us. We walked out of the building, intact. When we emerged from the building, we couldn't believe the destruction around us.

Now, I have had plane crash dreams before. The first was when I was about 5, and I never knew if there was a major air disaster at the time, but it occurred again the night before the AeroMexico/Cerritos plane crash. Most recently, I saw the Air France plane crash in a dream. In each one, I often have little details, like an all white plane over the ocean. Although the details are never enough to know if it is going to happen, I almost always get it within 2 days of the occurance.

I was once told by a spiritual director that these were given to me to incite me to pray. Unfortunately, I am a lot like my patron saint, St. Teresa of Avila, in that I'm not the best at prayer. Oh, if I can imagine talking to someone directly, I can. But usually to meditate on just a rote prayer, I'm gone. So if this is sent to me, it seems a bit of a waste.

However, if this is to incite me to get others to pray, if only to say a simple prayer of protection for the sake of children who may be affected by a travel accident, then I'm good with that. I tend to have the gift of gab, and yakking to others to pray for one thing or the other seems benign enough.

This one has me concerned though. If it is a prophetic dream, and it is NOT an air disaster, I am worried this is actually a dream of symbolism. If so, I have to piece the damned thing apart and figure out what each item represents.

Since I am weary of these dreams, and since I am also very lazy, I ask you to help me understand it. Being a mother, I can understand the symbolism of the children in my dream. But the rest is odd. Why the large building? Why the window to the sky? Why the plane crashing through it? Why did I go to the cement corridor? Why, when I expected the fire to consume me, was I not destroyed by it? Why were the children there with me? What did the water pipe signify? Most of all, when we stepped out and emerged from the wreckage, why were we the only ones left?

I hate these dreams. Some say it is a gift. I must agree with St. Teresa when she said they are a curse. The raw emotions, the fear, agony, dread, panic and amazement are as real as if I were actually there. And until I am able to decipher it, it will haunt me.

Any insights are welcome.

Friday, May 29, 2009

God's Gift to Us: Mothers, and Mother Church

I am a mother. In my chosen vocation, I have had to study human nature, in order to accurately and effectively correct errors and character flaws in my children. As a result, I have had to learn to read faces, interpret meanings, read between lines, stop mind games and call out my children when they were splitting hairs, deflecting blame, redirecting bad behavior onto their siblings and overall trying to avoid facing responsibility for what they have done.

I can do this well and it doesn't stop with my children.

I am patient with my children in correcting this behavior. I am not so good with tolerating it among adults. My husband knows it well, and has had to learn how direct an American can be. This has actually helped him face some horrid memories. He has learned I have very little patience for excuses. Excuses from him, or from anyone who has done evil.

This generation seems to be the generation of "It's not my fault!" As a mother, I have learned that the first kid that denies doing anything wrong is the one to focus the investigation upon. Human nature propels people to deny wrongdoing when they are guilty in order to convince, first and foremost, themselves. Consequently, the current heirarchy within the Catholic Church, being a reflection of the current age, are also faced with the same flaws in character. "It's not my fault. I didn't do it. You can't prove it. But even if I did do it, noone would believe you because I'm more important than you are." As happened in the Boston diocese, the Irish Catholic Church is echoing the same mantra and making all the same mistakes.

Since posting my last blog about the sadness behind smiling Irish eyes, certain individuals have notified me I may be in violation of some laws. As I feared, there are people who are more interested in preserving their image than in preserving their souls. Sadly, it seems the Church has trodden down the path of legalities once again, and the actual truth is meaningless. All that really matters is whether it can be proved in a courtroom. Ironic, when one considers the fact that the perpetrators know what they did and know how often they did it, yet they preach to everyone else the importance of being honest to oneself. If they are so concerned about the image of the Church, wouldn't it make more sense for them to meet personally with each victim, and admit their transgressions? Wouldn't it be better to take responsibility and face the consequences than to hide behind lawyers, website apologies, and public relation spokesmen? Most of all, wouldn't it be better to deal with the temporal punishment, than the eternal one?

Last I checked, the Catholic Church teaches that Confession absolves a person of sin and eliminates the eternal punishment, but Holy Mother Church also teaches that avoiding the temporal consequences is not the objective of receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In other words, if you are trying to get out of the consequences, sorry...no can do! (Notice how the term "Holy MOTHER Church" seems to have a parallel in this article?)

Truth be told, they fear the very truth itself. Mirrors can be intimidating, and many learn not to gaze at their own reflection, for fear of what they might have to face. A mother knows it is worse to ignore the problem in the child, as it has a snowball effect. As my 96 year old grandma, a deeply devout Catholic convert, often said, "Maria, you have to be cruel to be kind." For those in the Catholic Church who have sinned while acting as an agent of the Catholic Church the sin is the scandal, not the fact that it now coming out in public. While hiding behind the rationalization that Jesus said not to bring scandal on the Church, they put a lie in the mouth of Christ. They distort Jesus' meaning, and demand people put up or shut up, in order to preserve an artificial image of the Catholic Church. But Jesus didn't want that. He simply was telling us not to DO anything that is scandalous, not to avoid taking the responsibility for doing it!

Unfortunately, we still live in this world and the people running the Catholic Church are human beings, full of the same character flaws that a mother sees and corrects in her own children. If we, the Church, want to grow and learn from the horrendous reality we face from the Ryan Report and beyond, we must be willing to step forward and call people out on the things being done in the Name of Holy Mother Church. As a good Mother, she knows it is better to let us face a little skinned knee than to have the injury develop into an infection that causes the total loss of the leg.

It will take some time to encourage those who know the abusers to come forward and speak out. But it must be done, if we are to make a better Church for our children and grandchildren. After all, the Church is built on us. We are the Church, the Body of Christ. If one part of the Body becomes infected, the whole body is affected. Only when we address the actual problem in the sick part of the Church will we see better health for the whole Body of Christ.

In other words, listen to your Mama and take your medicine.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vices and Virtues: The Sadness Behind Laughing Irish Eyes

Today, the Catholic Church in Ireland had the wind knocked out of it. Most people, my own husband included, know first hand the severity of child abuse in Irish schools. He suffered at the hands of a young priest in ****** ****, *****, who later went on to be a Bishop of the ****** Diocese. My husband is just one of over 14,500 such cases. And that is just the number who have sought restitution thus far. There are thousands more who have suffered in silence. Some suffered so much, they took their own lives, believing the lies pounded into their heads by abusers who said they were worthless demons, devils, heathens. Content editted due to legal considerations.

The most insulting thing is the way the government executed the report. The report took over ten years, but it fails to name any of the perpetrators. Ironically, it does name the names of some of the victims. This occurs in order to protect the government, who deferred responsibility of schooling to the Church, from costly litigation. Not one criminal case will be produced from the report. It was an attempt to osticize the victims.

After reading portions of the report, I just want to know one thing: Who is Brother X (a Christian Brother) and is he still alive or coherent of his surroundings? Here is an excerpt of his cruelty:

If you turned up late ... he ...(Br X)... used to do an inspection, if there was a speck of dirt, that would trigger it off. He used a leather, hand, cane on the legs, hand, arse or wherever ...(he)... had a temper, you would be black and blue, you would be on the floor. He used to make you take your trousers down and he would give it to you on the behind or wherever, he did it to me a few times. You wouldn’t do anything because he had a whistle and he would call other Brothers and they would weigh in, when these guys got going you would do nothing, if they couldn’t get you one way they would get you the other, kick, hit, you were knackered.

He ...(Br X)... flogged me one time, I was working in the piggery. I used to be starving,the pigs used to get the Brothers’ leftovers and one day there was lovely potatoes and I took some and I took a turnip. Br ...X... caught me and he brought me up to the dormitory, he let down my trousers and he lashed me. He always wore a leather, around 18 inches ...(long)... and it was all stitched with wax, his leather was very thin. It was about an inch and a half, others had leathers about 2 inches. He lashed me, he flogged me.


http://www.childabusecommission.com/rpt/pdfs/CICA-VOL3-07.pdf sec 7.28

They say where the greatest good is, there exists the greatest evil. Ireland is known for deep faith, but with that deep faith and devotion is a horrible truth yet to be uncovered. That horrible truth is the evil that exists in the hearts of some who are charged to preach the Good News. Sadly, it only takes one or two to spread the cancer. Brother X terrorized, not just the children placed in his care, but his fellow brothers. In fact, some tried to comfort the children clandestinely, but the rule of obedience always superceded any charity. Brother X was in charge and the only person who could override his authority was the bishop.

God never intended for the Church to use her authority to abuse and inflict horror on a child. Jansenism aside, it was never Jesus' intent to penalize us all for our flaws. Quite the contrary...He took the punishment for us. Here is where poor Brother X shows his very weak faith. He, like Judas, just could not believe that Jesus died for his, or anyone else's sins. He believed himself to be evil, and lived that lie. The sickness in his soul was allowed to perpetuate, which is the sin of his superior.

Every bishop in this country should be on their knees, crying with true remorse, for allowing the least of God's little ones to be lead astray. They were lead astray in thinking they were too sinful to be forgiven for some of the very least of offenses. They were lead astray at the hand of an evil man who hated everyone, most of all, himself. Some were lead astray to the point of despair. They took their own lives. Some simply left the Church.

While my husband has chosen to forget the past, I ache to see the hurt and sadness removed from his Irish eyes. I yearn for him, along with every child who suffered at the hand of the Church, to know they are precious in God's eyes. God knows their sorrow, and their innocence. He knows the sin of a Church that is flawed. Flawed because it is made up of weak men and women, products of the same type of abuse, from the lowliest brother up to the greatest bishop. Only this bishop never apologized.

Had the then, priest really understood his catechism, he would know to be truly sorry for the sin of abusing my husband and so many others in that school. He would have known Jesus was shuddering every time he kicked a student. The, then priest, would feel the horror of shame, knowing he was hammering the nails into the hand of Jesus. He would cry, knowing he did the opposite of that which Christ commissioned him to do...to love one another, even as Christ loves him.

There is only one thing that any good, practicing Catholic can do in the face of such a report with this type of abuse. We must first, recognize with genuine sorrow, the injury inflicted on the innocent, under the banner of the Catholic Church. Second, we must resolve to guarantee this is stopped, every place, every time, from now until eternity. WE are the Church, not the bishops, priests and nuns. WE must take the Church that Christ founded back from the hands of Evil. Evil thrives when the good do nothing. WE must refuse to allow evil to thrive.

Otherwise, we might as well hammer the nail into the hand of Christ ourselves.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Finding the Real Middle Ground of the Abortion Debate

This weekend, President Obama called for tolerance to find the "middle ground" in the abortion debate. Here is where my husband, an Irish Democrat, went crazy. "How do you halfway kill a baby?" It left me scratching my head. It was a little like saying I was a little pregnant when I had our eighth child. It is a yes or no proposition and I believed that there was no middle ground.

At this point in the conversation, my husband gave me a pearl. Pearls are what I call the wisdom that comes from a hidden truth, as in the Pearl of Great Price,(the parable Jesus once told.) My husband does high level negotiations with the CEO's of million dollar corporations. He quoted his number one rule in negotiations. Make the middle ground as far on your side as possible.

When my husband enters a room to negotiate a contract, he asks for more than he wants. He never asks for less. This instantly forces the opposition to negotiate away from their position. In addition, the stronger of the two entities pulls naturally towards the middle, forcing the other side to acquiesce. My husband is a very strong personality, so he is usually successful, while at the same time, the other side feels they have walked away with more for their side. My husband, though, knows who had the real advantage.

Pro-life Catholics are that strong personality in the negotiation. They see no compromise in the issue of abortion. The subject is the life of a human being. Science has already settled this question, so the only option is to make a new middle ground, closer to their position, while suggesting it is close to what pro-choicers want. This is where the listening becomes vital to the posturing in the negotiation.

In listening to the other side, a pro-lifer will discover a wealth of information that can be learned. For example, I learned how to zero in on the real issue that worried most teens and young women when they had abortions. Truth be told, it made me a more effective hot line counselor. Their biggest fear was the immediate response, and how it will impact their lives. I would remind them their parents love them, and, once they scrape them off the ceiling, their parents will be there to support their decision.

Crisis motivates people to make rash and often regrettable decisions. The TARP funds and the Stimulus Bill are evidence of this. The same is true in a crisis pregnancy. One addage that always seems to hold true: Any decision made in a rush and without careful consideration of all the facts, leads to regret at some level. If we want to build a new middle ground, why not remind everyone about this reality? Will abortion really open a door? Or does it actually close one? Is the decision really another crisis diversion where the cure is worse than the condition? How will it feel in 7 (or 7 1/2, or 6 1/2) months when the mother would have delivered? Will she really feel relief then? Or regret?

If regret doesn't come, what is she really denying? Yes, the 'problem' will have been easily avoided, but there is no free lunch. Anyone who says you can have your cake and eat it too is lying to you and themself. Truth is, the middle ground exists here. It exists in the hearts of those who have made a decision on either side, and those who will make the decision. Those who have had abortions will (if they are honest) admit a sense of loss in the process. If they don't admit some sorrow or regret, they are likely to be suppressing a LOT of anger, (my suspicions regarding J. Garofalo.) Those who have given birth have a very different point of view.

I fit into this category. It was tough, but enduring built character in me. I now have a beautiful daughter, one of many, who is quite successful, even at the tender age of 25. (Two books coming out next year to prove it.) President Obama's mother could also say this. He was an unplanned pregnancy, but his mother chose to see beyond the immediate crisis and focused, instead, on what the future could hold.

One is a position of negative justification,(will I abort my fetus to get where I want to be in life?) The other is a positive one (by giving birth, I will able to take pride in her accomplishments, and I can still accomplish my goal, although with a little more difficulty.) Most women fail to consider the latter. I was just fortunate to be raised by parents and grandparents that knew to consider it. They passed this pearl of wisdom on to me.

The critical component in this is to remove judgement at the moment of crisis. If one removes judgement, the woman can remove her emotions (fretfulness) long enough to consider the future positive possibilities, rather than the negative. When judgement exists, defensiveness ensues, and the person is unable to be objective.

Women who have struggled with depression after abortion understand this. Judgement of herself is the biggest issue, and it can be debilitating. It is so, because the human soul knows intuitively right from wrong. The more we try to deny the truth, the more sick our soul becomes. Depression is a sickness of the soul, eminating from the constant need to turn off the voice in our head that tells us we did something wrong or bad. Sometimes that voice is created by others, and sometimes it is made by the things we do. Sometimes there is an organic component (like the sudden shift of hormones) but it is usually given greater power with guilt.

Guilt becomes a polarizing element in the debate. But like Pain, Guilt is a gift to help us know how to behave within society. For those who believe in God, it is what tells us we have stepped away from God. The sadness this brings is a natural consequence. If we step away from Our Creator, by going against His Creation process, we distance ourselves from the One who created us. It's like a child never speaking to a parent again. There is a sadness that comes with it that can't be explained until the two begin to converse again.

Pro-lifers should play this hand, now that the President has suggested it. Don't compromise on the principle, but open the discussion for the sake of those who are facing crisis pregnancies. Take anyone who has had an abortion, and anyone who has opted to give birth, then compare their lives and attitudes. Who would you want to be like? Who would you want to trust? Which one is truly happy? I guarantee you, there is not one woman who is genuinely elated with abortion, in the same way one is elated after giving birth.

Even though BOTH have negative and positive aspects to their decision, only one is content with life. The other is constantly driven to justify what they did, in order to prove it was the right decision. The other simply continues on with their plan for life, despite the bump in the road (or belly.) By default, it proves which decision is the better choice.

The key to the whole middle ground issue is focusing on the person in the crisis WHEN they are in the crisis, and trusting they can make a good decision when presented with all the facts. By removing the element of 'crisis,' they will see the possiblities. The world won't end if things don't go exactly as originally planned. But if we adapt to new circumstances, the rewards have the potential for greatness.

I'm sure President Obama's mother would agree with me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Vices and Virtues: The Art of Suffering

A few days ago, I took a good hard fall on the playground equipment while playing with my kids. This is typical for me. I always thought it was due to just being clumsy or ungraceful. I later discovered there was actually a name for it. It's called Multiple Sclerosis. I fall about once a week, and no matter how hard I try, I just can't convince my feet and legs to work the way everyone elses feet and legs work. Simple reality. And when I do fall, I am reminded how pain is a gift. Allow me to explain.

Pain serves an important purpose. It helps us know when we are in danger of potentially life threatening situations. When my MS takes over my arms and hands, it makes my limbs numb to touch. This is mainly a problem when I take objects out of the microwave. Note to self: Objects with high sugar content should only be removed from a microwave with potholders. I usually only know a day or two later when the inevitable return of sensation comes back in full force, and hypersensitivity makes me realize I was stupid for not paying attention to what I was doing. Pain warns us, and those who are not gifted with it, discover only too late they should have stopped while they were ahead.

Pain also builds character. Case in point: Keith Zeier. This guy suffered HUGE pain when he took a hit while serving in our country in the Marines. Now he raises money for our fallen heroes by turning the pain he endures every day into a commodity. He runs despite agonizing pain to secure financial contributions for his charity, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. So far he has raised over $41,000 and is pushing hard to demonstrate that pain doesn't need to be feared, but rather, conquered. (If you want to learn more about Keith's charity, go to http://www.firstgiving.com/keys100 )

Most of all, pain highlights the ultimate battle we all face: Fear of death. But suffering and pain can be used as a catalyst to show others how a small, weak or delicate individual, such as Farrah Fawcett, can be strong, determined and great. Although criticized for the reality TV approach to her own struggle with cancer, Farrah does us all a huge favor. She shows her great faith in every step of her agony. In her story, she shows us that which is greatly feared, namely pain, is something we can all overcome and endure. How does she do this? By looking for the reason for her mission. She sees her cancer as a mission to accomplish, and death is NOT the end. Faith helps Farrah to see beyond death and, thus, gives her pain a purpose: She shows us how to be brave.

Both Keith and Farrah have learned the secret to overcoming pain. By giving pain a purpose, and suffering for the sake of others, they take the power from the pain as a victim and twist it. They take control and cease to be victims of the pain inflicted by others, or by an unknown entity. They become survivors, even in death, to show us that WE are the architects of our own destiny. Ultimately, they embrace the very pain that causes other to recoil. In doing so, they lift themselves, and others, up.

When I was 18, my grandfather, Alfonso Merino, died from cancer. He decided he would not look at the pain, but at its purpose. He offered his suffering up for those in his family who had left the Catholic Church. Some may question the effectiveness of this, but noone can argue the impact. His suffering went on for ten months, and when it was over, most of us were sadly relieved. But we all knew his determination to offer his suffering for the sake of our souls. Even if you were an aetheist, you couldn't help but admire his determination to give his pain a purpose. As a result, those who knew him, always thought fondly of him and his courage, not his suffering. While we have to wait to our own deaths to know if his suffering worked to save the souls of others, there is no denying his sacrifice was noble.

When you take control of the pain and embrace it, you discover the real power you have. You discover the value of pain, and the art of suffering nobly for others, just like Keith, Farrah and my grandpa. Ultimately, you discover your foe, is your friend. Pain and suffering become the vehicle to strength and courage.

So the next time I fall, I will simply laugh and say, "Oh, I meant to do that." In doing so, I will have done so.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Full Circle Time: The Little Boy President Who Cried "Crisis!"

Okay kids...let's all get on the mat for full circle time. It's time to tell you a story about the Little Boy President Who Cried "Crisis." Do you remember the original story, where the little shepherd boy cried wolf, and all the townspeople came running. He did it to MANIPULATE the townsfolk to his own perverse sense of pleasure. But when the time came that a REAL wolf appeared, the townspeople thought his cries were another b.s. alarm and they wouldn't come to save him. What happened to the little boy? He was torn to tiny pieces by the wolf...and rightfully so. Do you think ANY of the townspeople shed a tear? Well, I'm sure some saw the boy was still a youth and too narcissistic to realize the impact his decisions were having on the townspeople, but most of them probably said, "He had it coming! Serve the little jerk right!"

Does anyone remember where we were, boys and girls, about two weeks ago? That's right! We were at the Tea Parties on Tax Day. And what was our purpose there? Right again! To remind people that our government should be OF the PEOPLE, BY the PEOPLE and FOR the PEOPLE. Now in our story of the Little Boy President Who Cried "Crisis", the Little Boy President saw all of us standing around, protesting the bad decisions made by our so-called 'representatives' in Congress. He began to throw a temper tantrum because the people did not want to play the game his way after he changed all the rules to make himself the winner. So the little boy devised a nice little idea that would make people stop gathering.

First, the Little Boy President Who Cried "Crisis" thought, "I'll show those American Townspeople!" So he took his favorite airplane and fighter jets and had them fly low over Manhattan, just to make the American Townspeople run away scared to think there was another terrorist attack coming. The American Townspeople in Manhattan began to cry because they were AFRAID that their city was going to be dessimated again by men that hate Americans. But just when they thought the plane was going to crash into a building, it tilted and someone said, "Hey, isn't that the Little Boy President's plane? Why is he trying to scare us? They got angry that the Little Boy President was so stupid as to think he could scare us away with his planes. So the American Townspeople stopped being afraid.

Next, the Little Boy President told some of his little boyfriends in the White House to take a little bottle of un-medicine that the world hasn't seen since 1977 and, before that, 1950, (http://www.virology.ws/2009/03/02/origin-of-current-influenza-h1n1-virus/) and release it in rural Mexico where the silly little peasants would never know what hit them. Then, it would spread and they could tell everyone what a deadly disease it was and how everyone should stay inside because it normally KILLS PIGS but now it is KILLING HUMANS. The Little Boy President had his best little boy friend, the Little Boy Vice President, even say on national television that he wouldn't have his own family ride the trains, even though the Little Boy Vice President LOVES trains. The American Townspeople heard this and began to worry. They stopped gathering, because they were AFRAID of this sickness. You see, boys and girls, noone really remembered having it before, and fewer understood how it managed to jump from just making pigs sick to making humans puke their guts out, so the American Townspeople were very scared of getting sick. Really, they were just afraid of throwing up so hard that vomit would come out their noses, but they were more afraid of that which they didn't understand.

After a few days, when people who got sick from it started to feel better, the American Townspeople began to realize that, just like every other illness humans get, our immune system fights it pretty well, and we get better, although some of us had the added advantage of having such violent vomitting and diahrrea that we finally dropped those pesky few pounds that wouldn't come off after having the last baby .

Well boys and girls, in the original story, it only took the townspeople two times to realize the Little Boy was full of crud and they began to ignore his cries of the wolf coming. But the American Townspeople haven't stopped being afraid when the Little Boy President cries Crisis. Although he has cried Crisis with the Economy, with the Auto Industry Collapse, the Banks, and now, with the Pig Flu, the American Townspeople still respond out of fear. But the American Townspeople are starting to be brave and not be so afraid. Pretty soon, they will begin to ignore the Little Boy President altogether when he shouts about the new Crisis of something or other.

And although the American Townspeople want to make sure their town is safe from all the silly Crisis, they now understand that things like a bad economy, having to find a new job and paying cash for everything sometimes has a good side. They understand that we all get sick, and some sicknesses, like viruses, actually PROTECT us from some forms of cancer and worse illnesses: chicken pox versus Shingles...Cow pox versus Small Pox...common cold versus brain cancer http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/S0306-9877(06)00610-4/abstract .

The American Townspeople began to be BRAVE just like their forefathers. They began to remember, they live in the 'Land of the Free, Home of the Brave' and that the two can't be seperated. They realized that being Free, meant being Brave. They started coming back together in town to protest, to let their voice be heard. Most of all, they began to ignore the Little Boy President every time he cried Crisis and started to live life again, without fear.

After they did that, they all lived HAPPILY EVER AFTER.