Tuesday, September 30, 2008
So I made a love story with 2 aliens...:)...inspired by "The Little Prince"
Monday, September 29, 2008
Usually the vice president is really not a big deal, who cares... really?
But McCain happens to be 72 with a cancer history...it scares me that she could be the next president...I mean really scares me...America I beg you! Can you imagine how she would handle a crises?
We are about to hit the biggest depression in American history!
I just came from my pedicure (because of my toe nail emergency)...and the lady who was sitting next to me in the pedicure chair was on the cell phone during the whole procedure. This is supposed to be a relaxing experience but she was screaming, almost crying panicking about her stock. She called her broker, friends, her money people...talking about "should I sell? It is the lowest it has ever been...what am I going to do?"..mind you, this was a lady wearing a huge diamond, with a Louis Vuitton bag, who rolled up in a pimped out BMW!
And shit has not even hit the van yet...
what a mess. Oh boy...maybe the country will learn from this, maybe we will stop spending money we don't have and stop using credit cards. I think we are going to have a rough time for a few years. But this might be actually a good thing in the long run ...and maybe just maybe people are scarred enough to actually consider voting for the better man and the better plan , and they can get over the fact that he happens to be black...
House defeats $700B financial markets bailout
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - In a stunning vote that shocked the capital and worldwide markets, the House on Monday defeated a $700 billion emergency rescue for the nation's financial system, ignoring urgent warnings from President Bush and congressional leaders of both parties that the economy could nosedive without it.
Stocks plummeted on Wall Street even before the 228-205 vote to reject the bill was officially announced on the House floor.
As a digital screen in the House chamber recorded a cascade of "no" votes against the bailout, Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley of New York shouted news of the falling Dow Jones industrials. "Six hundred points!" he yelled, jabbing his thumb downward. The decline was about 650 points shortly before the close of the trading day.
Bush and a host of leading congressional figures had implored the lawmakers to pass the legislation despite howls of protest from their constituents back home. Not enough members were willing to take the political risk just five weeks before an election.
"No" votes came from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle. More than two-thirds of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats opposed the bill.
The overriding question for congressional leaders was what to do next. Congress has been trying to adjourn so that its members can go out and campaign. "We are ready to continue to work on this," said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
"The legislation may have failed; the crisis is still with us," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in a news conference after the defeat.
Republicans blamed her scathing speech near the close of the debate _ which attacked Bush's economic policies and a "right-wing ideology of anything goes, no supervision, no discipline, no regulation" of financial markets _ for the current turmoil.
Frank said that was a remarkable accusation by Republicans against Republicans: "because somebody hurt their feelings, they decided to punish the country."
A White House spokesman said Bush was "very disappointed" in the vote.
The president will be meeting with members of his team later in the day "to determine next steps," said spokesman Tony Fratto.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
By Bessie Krapfman
We could say that eating the apple that is dipped in honey symbolizes Rosh Hashanah. The apple dipped in honey symbolizes a sweet year. After we dip the apple in honey and we make the proper blessing on the apple to thank G-d for his benevolence, we partake of the sweetness and request from G-d that he renew us for a sweet year.
The apple is the first of many signs that we utilize. What we do on Rosh Hashanah is not so much the type of food that sets this holiday apart, but what we do with it.
Each different foodstuff that we eat, we try to make "simmonim" out of them. A "simmonim" (plural) or "simon" (singular) is really a symbol that we use to help us get a good decree for the New Year. Like a sign or indication from heaven, the "simmonim" work to bring out our special mazel for the next year and change a pending difficult heavenly decree.
What we want from the New Year is that it be pleasant. Therefore as we partake of the meal we make signs and symbols of a pleasant year. When we eat the customary bread, the challah, we also dip it into honey to reference our eating towards this coming sweet year.
We add on to the above-mentioned many of our own "simmonim". These "simmonim" are taken from two sources. One source of the traditional "simmonim" are the Hebrew or Aramaic language, and the other is the from our own English language. This is the source of our new modern "simmonim".
An example of the "simmonim" that we take from Hebrew and Aramaic are carrots. A carrot, which in Hebrew is "gezer", has the same meaning as a "decree". Therefore we take the carrot in out hands and before we take a bite from it, we beseech G-d that he tear up the "roah ha-gezera" (the bad decree). That is how the "simmonim" work.
Another word, "kra" which is Aramaic for squash is also used. "Kra" which is Aramaic has a meaning in Hebrew, "to tear". Therefore we take the squash and we beseech G-d again that he should "kra roah ha-gezera", that he should "tear up" any bad decree.
Another food that is eaten is the pomegranate. The pomegranate has many cells in which the fruit surrounds the many seed. So we ask G-d to increase our merit like the pomegranate (which has many seeds).
Therefore we can see that it is not so much what you eat on Rosh Hashanah, but how you eat it.
In addition to the above, there is also some sort of vegetable that is called "rubia" which is something like a string bean. The word "rubia" which is Aramaic is similar to the word in Hebrew, "rabu" which means, "increase". Being that this is the case, we are to take the "rubia" and ask G-d to grant us increase. I really don't know what this is so sometimes we use string beans and sometimes we don't. In Israel they sell a small white bean that has a dark dot. The custom is that this is "rabu".
Another "simmon" is "kartie". "Kartie" is a leek (a thick long green onion) that is delicious when cooked in a soup - so that is where we put it! "Kartie" being an Aramaic word sounds like the Hebrew word, "korat", which means to "cut off". Therefore we beseech G-d that he should cut off or cut down out enemies.
What many people do not know is that we are supposed to make up our own "simmonim" in our native language. My sister-in-law is very strict to make certain that there is a stick of celery and some raisins on the table. She always takes the celery together with the raisins and loudly requests of G-d that he give us all a "raise in our salary". That is always good for a few laughs, but this is really what we are supposed to do, laughs aside.
Another food that is traditional to have is the head of an animal. Can you imagine me putting the head of an ox or ram on the table! My husband is really against that so we tried many years ago to use the head of fish. The kids thought that this was a great idea and started to grab for the eyes. My husband nearly plotzed from the thought of eating an eyeball. Each year he pleads with me not to serve it, but between speaking to the kids and their growing up, the eyeball bingeing has stopped. The purpose of having a "head" on your table is not to turn your stomach, but that we should use it as a "simmon"; we pray to G-d that we be the head and not the tail.
It is important to make up your own "simmonim" on the food that you eat. In doing so, you show to G-d that even though you are sitting at the dinner table and eating, your mind is always on him and the importance of the day.
Remember, it is not so much what you eat on Rosh Hashanah, but how you eat it!
In addition, we are supposed to have "fat" meat to eat. The truth is that with our cholesterol problems, we eliminated that a while back. Since my husband is "allergic" to fish and animal heads, we always try to acquire a tongue for Rosh Hashanah. The tongue is a tasty and special piece of meat that we rarely purchase. Once a year I can blow the budget to honor the holiday. Don't we say that G-d picks up the tab for what we spend on the Sabbath and Holydays? So, it is His problem to pay for it, not mine – and we seem to manage fine.
Utilizing the tongue for "simmonim", we are able to make two requests. One, since it comes from the head, we request from G-d that we be the head and not the tail. Secondly, since it is the tongue, which in Hebrew is "lashon", we beseech G-d again, that we not speak "lashon haraah", evil speech.
All of the above is about what we eat. But there are two things we do not eat on Rosh Hashanah. They are vinegar and nuts. Vinegar, we do not use, since we do not want to come in contact with sour tastes, which are negative signs. Nuts we do not eat since they remain in the mouth and make one clear their throat often, which is a bother during the important prayer services. Also nuts in Hebrew have a numerical equivalent to sin, and we want to stay away from any closeness to sin.
You may be asking your self why is it that we make "simmonim" on certain items like the apple, but on other items like vinegar, we do not. It would seem that we should utilize also the bitter tasting foods like horseradish to wish our enemies a bitter year! The answer is that when we come across a good thing it is a good "simmon" for ourselves. Sometimes it is a good sign for us, other times it shows a bad omen for our ememies. But if we were to taste a bitter food, it would mean a bad sign for us. The name just is indicative upon whom it falls.
It is also customary to make a "lechaim", wishing others a good life, but we must be careful not to overdo the alcohol since this is still a day of judgment and not given over to merry making or silliness.
Either way you make your "simmonim", just remember, on Rosh Hashanah it is not what you eat, but how you eat it. Eat your food by making a "simmon" on it and you will be certain that you are inscribed for a great year.
Other references for this period -- Days of Awe, Days of Repentance, Day of Judgment, Day of Atonement -- suggest the solemnity of the occasion.
The holiday is focused on three major themes: The kingship or sovereignty of God, God's remembrance of his people and the covenant at Sinai, and redemption, symbolized by the sounding of the shofar, a ram's horn transformed into a wind instrument.
Much of Rosh Hashanah (and virtually all of Yom Kippur) is spent in the synagogue, atypical for Judaism, which tends to focus more on home-based rituals. In prayer, Jews ask for forgiveness for their transgressions against God, an atonement that first demands remedying the wrongs committed against fellow human beings.
It is a time for self-examination and spiritual renewal, an opportunity to put aside the shallow and fleeting distractions of daily life and seriously question whether one has become the person they could or hoped to be.
© The Vancouver Sun 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
I, on the other hand, have spend all my life trying to figure things out and ended up with the conclusion, that I may never really know what to believe and will probably die searching for the answers on life’s most basic questions.
I define myself as agnostic. I believe that agnosticism is actually not really a position at all, but an epistemological method, trying to find an answer. I do not claim to be neutral on the subject of Gods existence, I just claim the fact that I do not know if God exists or not. I am not comfortable in my ignorance of the existence of God and therefore I am trying to rid myself of my uncertainty. I have not given up on my search, but I am also aware that I may never know the answers. Agnostics are those who have considered the issue. They are looking at the evidence, but have not yet come to a conclusion. My journey to figure things out has not stopped. I am just more realistic about it, which means that I am aware that I may never know the truth about God or any other important basic questions pertaining to life.
I learned through my journey that the search itself might be the answer I was seeking all along, because it has brought me happiness and confidence in the choices I have made. I have been able to meet a lot of different people just by asking questions about their personal beliefs and philosophies. I have gained a lot of knowledge and been able to pick and choose from the different philosophies and the ideas that make sense to me and my life.
My travel has led me to different religions and practices. I consider myself very open minded, especially when it comes to other peoples convictions. Whenever I hear interesting things about other values, I look into them and explore the option that they might have answers to life’s most basic questions. I did explore philosophies that trigger my curiosity and interest. I found myself drawn into some of their ideas and thoughts, so I included some of their theories and values into my own life philosophy on my way to enlightenment. I chose to discover these theories more and studied their ethics.
For example, Yoga and Buddhism are philosophies I am very interested in, because they seem to have a lot of principles that I agree with or like to learn more about. I think part of my attraction is, that these concepts do not require for anybody to actually believe in a God.
The central doctrine of Yoga philosophy is that nothing exists beyond the mind and its consciousness, which is the only ultimate reality. The objective of the yoga principle is to uproot misconceptions about the existence of external realities from the minds of men. It believes that it is possible to reach this stage of self realization through regular practice of different yogic meditative processes that bring a complete withdrawal or detachment from all false sources of knowledge and gives an inner sense of balanced calm and tranquility. Yogis consider that we are all searching for happiness and that this is everybody’s main goal. They believe that we become dissatisfied with brief, temporary pleasure and start a quest for eternal Bliss. Methods to achieve this were developed thousands of years ago. They believe that nature’s law is so designed that we must evolve. Pain is used by nature in the early stages of this evolvement. Everybody tries to find happiness and a sense of purpose in their life and yoga waits patiently for everybody to reach the stage, where they are able to accept pain and start looking deeper into life. In the later stages of spiritual evolution, pain is no longer needed to spur us on. Each stage of progress produces such peace and happiness that this entices us to go to a higher level of happiness. Thus, instead of pain, reward becomes the prime mover.
Yoga has assisted me to find a higher level of happiness. My main goal in life is to find happiness and to be compassioned towards others. Defining what I want out of life is what makes me happy and gives me a purpose. This helps me look into my own life’s expedition. I was able to start looking into philosophies with a basic guideline on what I needed for myself. Finding this out helped me find my anthem for my life without believing in God and a specific religion. I started looking into anything and everything. In Buddhism I found the eight steps to happiness through Loving Kindness.
Buddhism also teaches us to be humble and to put ourselves lower than others. When putting yourself lower than others we are able to listen and learn. I am able to appreciate other people’s views and experiences by acknowledging their wisdom. I believe everybody has something they can teach me, so I try to listen. If we maintain a humble, respectful attitude towards everyone, good qualities and inspiration will flow into our mind all the time.
Buddhism also helped me understand how to determine right from wrong. Buddhists say that any thoughts, speech or actions that are rooted in greed, hatred and delusion and thus lead us away from Nirvana are bad and any thoughts, speech or actions that are rooted in giving, love and wisdom and thus help clear the way to Nirvana are good. To know what is right and wrong in god-centered religions is easy, you just have to do as you are told. In Buddhism, to know what is right or wrong, you have to develop a deep self-awareness and self-understanding.
I believe ethics based on understanding are always stronger than those that are a response to a command or law. So to know what is right and wrong, Buddhists look at three things: the intention, the effect the act will have upon oneself and the effect it will have upon others. If the intention is good (rooted in giving, love and wisdom), if it helps myself (helps me to be more giving, more loving and wiser) and help others (helps them to be more giving, more loving and wiser), then my deeds and actions are wholesome, good and moral.
The philosophical approach to ethical actions is very similar. Philosophers claim that one action is morally better than another when it makes life better in some fundamental and important way. They simply evaluate human conduct by looking at welfare, well-being, and happiness of those involved.
I also believe in Karma. According to Buddhism we are responsible for our own happiness and misery. We create our own Heaven and we create our own Hell. We are the architects of our own fate. Karma is the theory of cause and effect, of action and reaction; it is a natural law, which has nothing to do with the idea of justice or reward and punishment. Every action chosen by free will produces its effects or results. If a good action produces good effects, it is not justice, or reward, meted out by anybody or any power sitting in judgment of your action, but this is in virtue of its own nature, its own law.
I do believe that we should do what is right and therefore create our own good Karma. I decide on what is right and wrong by using my own personal approach. I use the act-oriented approach to ethics. I believe in the concept of human well-being and I want all human’s welfare, their well-being and happiness. I try to only do actions that respect other humans and their need to be treated with dignity, honesty, equality, and fairness.
I also believe in free-will and freedom.
Aristotle believes that most of our actions are voluntary therefore considered free choices. He believes that we choose our character, habits, and the way we perceive reality, which makes us responsible for our actions. I agree with Aristotle, for I was at a point in my life where I chose to become a better person. I grew up in a household where everybody was very sarcastic and it became the main form of communication. It was the way to express anger, happiness and even the love we had for each other. My husband made me aware of the fact that I was using a lot of sarcasm. He explained to me that my sarcasm was at times very hurtful. I chose to change and stopped using sarcasm to make myself and others happy. I did not know that it was hurting others. Once I knew about the affects my sarcasm had on others I became responsible for that action. I believe that up to that point I did not have free-will when it came to choosing this way of communication, because I did not have a choice. I thought this is how people communicate with each other.
Even though I had these influences of sarcastic communication all of my life I chose to change, but I had free-will at that point. I had control of my actions and knew not to use sarcasm. It was the product of reflection and choice. Free-will can only be truly done if we are aware of the choices. The more ignorant one is the less free-will they have. Therefore education and knowledge is liberating and gives us freedom.
We are formed by other influences around us for example family, friends, culture etc and it is not always our free-will who determines who we are and how we react. We do have the ability to change once we are made aware.
Free will is available to all of us but I do believe that not everybody knows that it is. Ignorance can be a form of excuse to not be responsible for all of our actions but only up to a certain point. At some point it is our responsibility to learn and get rid of our ignorance.
I will continue on my adventure through life hoping to learn more about different beliefs and philosophies, because they will help me get closer to the truth. I do define myself as agnostic, Buddhist and Yogini. I am all of them and none of them. I am on a journey changing my life’s philosophy sometimes by the hour. That may make me weak but I do know it makes me happy, curious and excepting of others. I love life and people and hope I will never stop growing and widening my horizon. There is so much more to discover and so little time.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Here one site that will help me and maybe others to be able to really compare the 2 candidates.
HERE are the positions of Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama and his Republican rival John McCain on the main issues in the US presidential campaign:
Obama: Said he was against the war in 2002 and has vowed to end the conflict and begin to withdraw the troops immediately. He is opposed to establishing permanent bases in Iraq, but says he would be prepared to send troops back in in case of a catastrophe or genocide.
McCain: Is a fervent supporter of the US surge launched in 2007. He has vowed "no surrender" and has said he is convinced that Washington is winning the war against the insurgency. He has come under fire from Democrats for suggesting that US troops could be left in Iraq for 100 years, modelled on the US involvement in Germany and South Korea.
Obama: Is in favor of launching a dialogue with Iran, who he says presents a serious threat to the Middle East region and the United States. He has said he would be prepared to hold talks without pre-conditions with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But more recently he indicated talks would begin at a lower level first. He is in favor of using international sanctions to push Iran to be more transparent over its suspect nuclear program.
McCain: Says "there is only one things worse than military action and that is a nuclear-armed Iran." He is against any presidential level talks which he believes would only lend legitimacy to the regime's hardliners. He would like to tighten sanctions, mostly economic, outside the UN sphere if necessary.
MIDDLE EAST AND ISRAEL
Obama: The US commitment to Israel is "non negotiable." He envisages isolating Hamas and Hezbollah, as long as the Islamic militant groups refuse to renounce terrorism or recognize the right of Israel to exist. He has criticized Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories as unhelpful to the peace process, and is in favor of policies which can boost the influence of moderate Palestinians.
McCain: Supports US military aid to Israel and says he is Hamas' "worst enemy." He has repeatedly said Hamas would welcome an Obama victory. He encourages talks between Israel and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, and has called for Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria to be politically isolated. He believes the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006 was justified.
Obama: Promises to cut taxes for working classes and low-income homes earning less than 75,000 dollars a year, while raising taxes for those homes with an average income of more than 250,000 dollars. On the housing crisis, he proposes setting up a fund to help stave off foreclosures and federal help to gain access to loans.
McCain: Pledges to maintain the tax cuts put in place under President George W. Bush. Firmly against public deficits, he has vowed to fight "porkbarreling" or congressional earmarks and has proposed a freeze for a year on non-military federal spending. On the housing crisis, he has suggested state guarantees for mortgages and for student loans.
Obama: Wants all Americans to be covered by a universal health care plan. His scheme, based on incentives and cost cuts, would be voluntary but oblige parents to insure their children.
McCain: Believes health care should be made more accessible. (Some 45 million Americans lack coverage.) He proposes greater oversight of insurance and pharmaceutical companies to prevent them from profiting unreasonably at the expense of consumers.
Obama: Supports immigration reform which boosts border controls while legalizing under certain conditions the 12 million illegal immigrants.
McCain: Was a key mover in 2006 legislation to try to regularize the situation of illegal immigrants, but insists on the need to secure the borders before any other reforms can be carried out.
Obama: Has attacked the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico and says he would renegotiate it.
McCain: Supports NAFTA and sees free trade as an important tool in US foreign policy, notably in the Middle East. Unlike Obama, he supports a free trade accord with Colombia.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Established by U.N. resolution in 1982, "Peace Day" has grown to include millions of people around the world who participate in all kinds of events, large and small.
The International Day of Peace ("Peace Day") provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date. It was established by a United Nations resolution in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the General Assembly. The first Peace Day was celebrated in September 1982.
In 2002 the General Assembly officially declared September 21 as the permanent date for the International Day of Peace.
By creating the International Day of Peace, the UN devoted itself to worldwide peace and encouraged all of mankind to work in cooperation for this goal. During the discussion of the U.N. Resolution that established the International Day of Peace, it was suggested that:
"Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples…This day will serve as a reminder to all peoples that our organization, with all its limitations, is a living instrument in the service of peace and should serve all of us here within the organization as a constantly pealing bell reminding us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace."
Since its inception, Peace Day has marked our personal and planetary progress toward peace. It has grown to include millions of people in all parts of the world, and each year events are organized to commemorate and celebrate this day. Events range in scale from private gatherings to public concerts and forums where hundreds of thousands of people participate.
Anyone, anywhere can celebrate Peace Day. It can be as simple as lighting a candle at noon, or just sitting in silent meditation. Or it can involve getting your co-workers, organization, community or government engaged in a large event. The impact if millions of people in all parts of the world, coming together for one day of peace, is immense.International Day of Peace is also a Day of Ceasefire – personal or political. Take this opportunity to make peace in your own relationships as well as impact the larger conflicts of our time. Imagine what a whole Day of Ceasefire would mean to humankind.
...so just a refresher in history...how many would you have known?
Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the United States
No Party Designation
Aaron BurrGeorge Clinton
George ClintonElbridge Gerry
Daniel D Tompkins
John Quincy Adams
John C Calhoun
John C CalhounMartin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Richard M. Johnson
William Henry Harrison
James Knox Polk
George M Dallas
William R King
John C Breckinridge
Hannibel HamlinAndrew Johnson
Ulysses Simpson Grant
Schuyler ColfaxHenry Wilson
Rutherford Birchard Hayes
William A Wheeler
James Abram Garfield
Chester Alan Arthur
Chester Alan Arthur
Stephen Grover Cleveland
Levi P Morton
Stephen Grover Cleveland
Adlai E Stevenson
Garret A. HobartTheodore Roosevelt
Charles W Fairbanks
William Howard Taft
James S Sherman
Thomas R Marshall
Warren Gamaliel Harding
Charles G Dawes
Herbert Clark Hoover
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
John Nance GarnerHenry A. WallaceHarry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Alben W Barkley
Dwight David Eisenhower
Richard Milhous Nixon
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Lyndon Baines Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson
Hubert Horatio Humphrey
Richard Milhous Nixon
Spiro T. AgnewGerald Rudolph Ford
Gerald Rudolph Ford
James Earl Carter, Jr.
Ronald Wilson Reagan
George Herbert Walker Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush
J. Danforth Quayle
William Jefferson Clinton
Albert Gore, Jr.
George Walker Bush
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I know how to cook and I feel pretty comfortable making a decent meal, especially something German :) but I definitely do not bake. Cupcakes seem easy enough, but I am pretty sure I can mess them up anyways. When I left the house for yoga this morning I turn on the Howard Stern Show ( I am definitely a fan and addict) and I hear today is cupcake Wednesday (every Wednesday this crazy fantastic bakery brings in these killer cupcakes loaded with everything good and sinful), I hear them talk about the cupcakes while backing out of my garage and see on the mail box across the street this balloon, so I decide...that's it ...today is the day!
And then the decorating...OMG so much fun. I am already thinking of Halloween cupcakes decorations. I think this would be a fun party. Make a whole bunch of "naked" cupcakes, throw decorations on the table and everybody can make some for the loved ones at home while we drink tea and talk about stuff.
Monday, September 15, 2008
whatever. I decided a long time ago to call myself agnostic, well actually I did not know this fancy word, just knew that I didn't know if there was a God or not and that I was OK with that.
I don't really care if there is a God and I know that it is impossible for me to find out unless I die, so I stopped waisting my time and I just live the best way I know how.
(Boy, this statement usually gets everybody going....)
I want to be happy and I want people around me to be happy too.
But I am still very open minded and willing to take suggestions.
That's how I ran into yoga, Buddhism and The Baha'i Faith: I like the whole
*Elimination of all forms of prejudice
*equality between men and women
*humanity as one global family
* one single race
* one global society etc
this Baha'i stuff is all right up my Alley, but you have to believe in God and I just don't know about that,
I am striving to one day maybe...just maybe become a Buddhist. I try to live my life with compassion for people, I meditate by doing yoga, I want to find the truth and attain happiness, all part of the four noble truths.
As I said, an ongoing journey. As for now, I guess I am just me inspired and guided by many.
Nothing wrong with that AND
Jesus was a pretty cool guy from what I can tell but...
The teaching of Buddha that life is permeated with suffering caused by desire, that suffering ceases when desire ceases, and that enlightenment obtained through right conduct, wisdom, and meditation releases one from desire, suffering, and rebirth.
Blocking one’s mortal path to awakened or enlightened service are egotism, greed and selfishness, each of which leads to endless and needless suffering.
The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism can help us move beyond earthly limitations and thereby reach Nirvana, a state of mind that is completely and permanently free of suffering.
The good news is that the love light within us is eager to help light our path to enlightenment. With an awakened heart we can lovingly connect with and deeply appreciate what is — without seeking to change it, grasp it, or to push it away.
How to awaken? Mindfulness is the key to a “spacious” practice of Buddhism. Spaciousness allows us to observe without reacting. To draw conclusions or interpretations is to step out of touch with the here and now. To recognize our interconnection with nature’s five elements — earth, water, fire, air and space — is to embrace their divinity, and thereby manifest our own divinity or inner joy, our very own “flow,” our vitality. Buddhists know that love is a verb, not a noun. The way of a Buddha is simply to stay present, and to be love.
The Bahá'í Faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. Its founder, Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892), is regarded by Bahá'ís as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad.
The central theme of Bahá'u'lláh's message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. God, Bahá'u'lláh said, has set in motion historical forces that are breaking down traditional barriers of race, class, creed, and nation and that will, in time, give birth to a universal civilization. The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and to assist the processes of unification.
One of the purposes of the Bahá'í Faith is to help make this possible. A worldwide community of some five million Bahá'ís, representative of most of the nations, races and cultures on earth, is working to give Bahá'u'lláh's teachings practical effect. Their experience will be a source of encouragement to all who share their vision of humanity as one global family and the earth as one homeland.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Ever since Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) as his running mate, conservatives have rushed to rebut criticism that Palin has no foreign policy experience by claiming that Alaska is near Russia. Fox News’s Steve Doocy appears to be one of the first to make this claim and even McCain and his wife Cindy have uttered the absurd talking point. But today on Fox News, a “Republican strategist” laid out the specifics of this Russia/Alaska rivalry — fishing:
GREGG JARRETT: In what capacity has she worked with Russia?
TYLER HARBER: She worked with permitting issues and with fishing issues dealing with the sea fishing industry there in Alaska.
Jarrett didn’t seem to take the bait. “Oh, come on. That’s a far cry from major international experience.”
GREGG JARRETT: She has no national security issue – experience. It’s pretty brave of that campaign to put her out there on that, isn’t it?
TYLER HARBER (GOP strategist): It is. You know, one of the things we – one of the most important things that we tell our clients in the political realm is, “Do not be reactive.” If you become reactive, you are going to lose.
I think what you saw last night was Obama being reactive. Current polling shows him trailing McCain when it comes to trust about national security, trust about the war in Iraq, and trust about the war on terrorism. What you are seeing is the Obama campaign becoming reactive.
Now as far as Sarah’s comments, Sarah has dealt with, and has more experience from an administrative standpoint than Obama has. She has visited the Middle East as many times
JARRETT: But she has no foreign policy experience. She doesn’t know anything about —
HARBER: But she does. She does have foreign policy experience.
JARRETT: She does?
HARBER: Now let me point out, she’s worked with Russia – she’s worked with Russia on fishing issues. She’s worked with Canada on transportation issues.
JARRETT: In what capacity has she worked with Russia?
HARBER: She worked with permitting issues and with fishing issues dealing with the sea fishing industry there in Alaska.
JARRETT: Oh, come on. That’s a far cry from major international experience.
HARBER: But that’s still more experience than Obama has.
JARRETT: You guys are going to have a field day with that right? Mary Anne?
DEM STRATIGIST: That’s laughable.
Another Palin Lie? Mexico?
Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 02:47:29 PM PDT
Governor Sarah Palin has done very little traveling. In fact, she only last year visited Kuwait and Germany, with the latter country being a stop-over on her way to Kuwait. And do note that in yesterday's interview Ireland was dropped from her list of nations visited (that was an even briefer stop-over on her way to Kuwait.)
Recognizing that her wanderlust is not world class, she added Mexico and Canada to her list of places seen during her ABC-interview. (Which probably now makes her the perfect Mariachi bandleader, as well as Mounted Policeman).
But hey, wait a minute?
GIBSON: Did you ever travel outside the country prior to your trip to Kuwait and Germany last year?
PALIN: Canada, Mexico, and then, yes, that trip, that was the trip of a lifetime to visit our troops in Kuwait and stop and visit our injured soldiers in Germany. That was the trip of a lifetime and it changed my life.
Mexico? Did she really go? Or have these two countries been added to the list because Americans could go there without passports, and it's therefore impossible to prove or disprove whether she has actually been there?
SteinL's diary :: ::
Maybe she did her Mexico-jaunt during one of her extended and intermittent college visits. After all, she did see five colleges in six years, a spring break foray into Mexico might just fit into her busy schedule touring academe.
Ah, Sarah. We kind of feel we don't know you at all. Roger Ebert was quite dismissive today:
And how can a politician her age have never have gone to Europe? My dad had died, my mom was working as a book-keeper and I had a job at the local newspaper when, at 19, I scraped together $240 for a charter flight to Europe. I had Arthur Frommer's $5 a Day under my arm, started in London, even rented a Vespa and drove in the traffic of Rome. A few years later, I was able to send my mom, along with the $15 a Day book.
You don't need to be a pointy-headed elitist to travel abroad. You need curiosity and a hunger to see the world. What kind of a person (who has the money) arrives at the age of 44 and has only been out of the country once, on an official tour to Iraq? Sarah Palin's travel record is that of a provincial, not someone who is equipped to deal with global issues.
Mexico, Sarah? When? You see, by now we really do have to check up on absolutely everything you say, you're that good a liar.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
08.31.08 -- 11:00AM By Josh Marshall
I've noticed some people who should know better claiming that bringing up Gov. Palin's troopergate scandal is tantamount to making a victim of or defending her slimeball ex-brother-in-law who allegedly once used a taser on his stepson.
That's awfully foolish. So I thought I'd put together a post explaining why.
The person in question is state trooper Mike Wooten -- Palin's ex-brother-in-law who's embroiled in a bitter custody and divorce battle with Palin's sister. Back in the second week of August, well before Palin became a national political figure, TPMMuckraker was reporting on this story. And as part of the reporting we tried to get a handle on just how bad a guy Wooten was. Most people who are familiar with the ugliness that often spills out of custody and divorce cases know to take accusations arising out of the course of them with a grain of salt unless you know a lot about the people involved. And if you look closely at the case there are numerous reasons to question the picture drawn by the Palin family. Regardless, we proceeded on the assumption that Wooten really was a rotten guy because the truth is that it wasn't relevant to the investigation of Palin.
Let's review what happened.
The Palin family had a feud with Wooten prior to her becoming governor. They put together a list of 14 accusations which they took to the state police to investigate -- a list that ranged from the quite serious to the truly absurd. The state police did an investigation, decided that 5 of the charges had some merit and suspended Wooten for ten days -- a suspension later reduced to five days. The Palin's weren't satisfied but there wasn't much they could do.
When Palin became governor they went for another bite at the apple. Palin, her husband and several members of her staff began pressuring Public Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan -- a respected former Chief of the Anchorage police department -- to can Wooten. Monegan resisted, arguing that the official process regarding Wooten was closed. And there was nothing more that could be done. In fact, during one of the conversations in which Palin's husband Todd was putting on the squeeze, Monegan told Todd Palin, "You can't head hunt like this. What you need to do is back off, because if the trooper does make a mistake, and it is a terminable offense, it can look like political interference."
Eventually, Palin got fed up and fired Monegan from his job. (Palin claims, not credibly, that she fired Monegan over general differences in law enforcement priorities.) This is an important point. Wooten never got fired. To the best of my knowledge, he's is still on the job. The central bad act was firing the state's top police official because he refused to bend to political pressure from the governor and her family to fire a public employee against whom the governor was pursuing a vendetta -- whether the vendetta was justified or not.
Soon after this, questions were raised in the state about Monegan's firing and he eventually came forward and said he believed he'd been fired for not giving in to pressure to fire Wooten.
After Monegan made his accusations, Palin insisted there was no truth whatsoever to his claims. Nonetheless, a bipartisan committee of the state legislature approved an investigation. In response, Palin asked the Attorney General to start his own investigation which many in the state interpreted as an effort to either keep tabs on or tamper with the legislature's investigation. Again, very questionable judgment in someone who aspires to be first in line to the presidency.
The Attorney General's investigation quickly turned up evidence that Palin's initial denials were false. Multiple members of her staff had raised Wooten's employment with Monegan. Indeed, the state police had a recording of one of her deputies pushing Monegan to fire Wooten. That evidence forced Palin to change her story. Palin said that this was the first she'd heard of it and insisted the deputy wasn't acting at her behest, even though the trascript of the recorded call clearly suggested that he was. (Hear the audio here.)
Just yesterday, Monegan gave an interview to the Washington Post in which he said that not only Palin's aides, but Palin's husband and Palin herself had repeatedly raised the Wooten issue with him and pressured him to fire him. And now he says he has emails that Palin sent him about the matter. (In an interesting sidelight, that may end up telling us a lot, Monegan says no one from the McCain campaign ever contacted him in the vetting process.)
The investigator appointed by the state legislature began trying to arrange a time to depose Gov. Palin last week -- in other words, in the final days before her selection.
So let's put this all together.
We rely on elected officials not to use the power of their office to pursue personal agendas or vendettas. It's called an abuse of power. There is ample evidence that Palin used her power as governor to get her ex-brother-in-law fired. When his boss refused to fire him, she fired his boss. She first denied Monegan's claims of pressure to fire Wooten and then had to amend her story when evidence proved otherwise. The available evidence now suggests that she 1) tried to have an ex-relative fired from his job for personal reasons, something that was clearly inappropriate, and perhaps illegal, though possibly understandable in human terms, 2) fired a state official for not himself acting inappropriately by firing the relative, 3) lied to the public about what happened and 4) continues to lie about what happened.
These are, to put it mildly, not the traits or temperament you want in someone who could hold the executive power of the federal government.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Ever since I was growing up I remember drawing cartoons. My siblings had developed different talents in their early childhoods. I always was the “weirdo” spending a lot of my time by myself in my room drawing. It was an outlet for my thoughts and feelings that I had a difficult time expressing any other way.
I also fell in love with the magical world of Disney. I was drawn into the animations of movies like The Jungle Book, Robin Hood and Cinderella. The world of cartoons and comics that told stories through pictures captured my interest and curiosity. These worlds inspired me to do my own stories. It took me to another world and helped me escape my actual life.
When I was seven my mother committed suicide. My father did what he could to help me get to know her through his recollections. He made it a point of telling me all he remembered about her to help make her come alive. I always felt a little bit like an outcast among my peers who all had mothers. I withdrew from the outside world and learned to deal with my problems through art. I developed the ability to make comics about my family. I started telling stories of our everyday life with humor through my drawings. When I was around 16 my father had started dating a woman named Ellie who had a little son. My siblings and I were all teenagers but Ellie’s son Sebastian was only 5. She was a strong emancipated woman who had raised her son with her lesbian lover up until she started dating my Dad. She had what we considered “strange” parenting ideas and we couldn’t help but make fun of her and her son, who was the “unique” outcome of her non-violent, free spirited parenting ideas. Sebastian was not allowed to watch TV or play with any violent toys like plastic guns. My way of making fun of the situation was to create a cartoon of Sebastian, picking on all his odd little behaviors. Sebastian and my Dad turned into funny looking caricatures which did very awkward and funny things in my comic. I think it was therapy for me and a way to communicate to my Dad what I was feeling, which was obviously jealousy. It helped me to make fun of my family in a loving way but also to communicate deeper unspoken problems I had with them and myself.
I dreamt about working for Disney one day but soon grew up into reality and left that dream, along with childhood, behind me. I got married and came to America as a young woman and learned that I arrived as not just another immigrant but as a person from Germany. I was soon confronted by people about Hitler, Nazis and the Holocaust. I was questioned about my heritage, the history of my country and the involvement of my family during the Nazi régime in Germany.
When I moved with my second husband to a town with a ninety-two percent Jewish population I was confronted by an older woman when walking my dog. We started talking and she noticed my accent. When she found out that I was German she started yelling at me and began to question me about my father’s connection to the Holocaust. She told me that she had lost all her family because of the brutal killings of German murderers like my father. I explained to her that my father had been a child when the war was over and that he had nothing to do with it, but it left me thinking about my German heritage and my family, especially my grandparents who were adults during the Holocaust. This sparked a chain reaction of thoughts and emotions about my connection to this history. I was confronted with thoughts of guilt for sins of past generations. I asked myself if I held any responsibility or guilt for the sins of my forefathers. I was “lucky”, because none of my relatives were actually members of the SS, but I do know that there are grandchildren of those who were, and I asked myself, how do those children or their children feel about this guilt? Is it guilt they should feel? And this turned into thoughts of children whose fathers are in jail for killing somebody; how do they feel? How should they feel? And I wondered if anybody ever talked to them about this. So I came to the conclusion that I needed to write (or better draw, since that is my given gift) a children’s book about a girl who finds out by accident that her grandfather was in the SS.
I started thinking about a story. A little girl lives in America and gets to spend her summer vacation with her German Grandmother whom she does not know. While she is being nosy, looking through old boxes and an old trunk in the attic she finds an old SS uniform. She later asks her Grandmother about it, who then tells her about her Grandfather and herself. They both had been in the Nazi Youth and grew up loving and admiring Hitler. The girl now has to come to peace with the fact that she is part of something as horrible as the Holocaust. Her grandmother who she loves dearly was part of the killings of the Jewish people, which makes her a part of it as well.
Around the time I decided I had to write the children’s book, my husband Bill gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. He told me to quit work and to rediscover my childhood dream to become an artist. As a woman in her late 30’s I decided to once again pick up where I had left off and take myself back to my childhood dream. I went back to school to become an animator, illustrator and cartoonist.
While in school I had the chance to develop my idea further and I learned the skills to work on my idea. I started to think deeper about my ideas and storyboarded the book. After storyboarding, I realized that the idea goes deeper than just my own German roots, but to the fact that there are a lot of subjects and issues adults do no talk about. The fact that my mother committed suicide was never really discussed and I had questions that nobody wanted or could answer. I am now an adult still dealing with the results of my childhood drama because adults did not want to talk about this subject.
I imagined that there are a lot of children with questions that are never being answered, but that are destined to have a profound impact on their lives that may never get resolved because it was never addressed when it arose during their childhoods.
I know now that I want to use my art to teach children about subjects that are controversial and usually not talked about. Children deserve help in understanding life’s most difficult issues just as much as adults do. These topics are hard to understand for adults so they choose not to talk to their children about them, because those are matters they do not understand themselves.
I think I need to make books for children who need help to learn more about taboo issues like death, homosexuality, racism, nuclear bombs, Nazis and whatever other areas come up. I do believe that these are difficult subjects and I know that I do not have the answers, but I do think that my art can help not only myself but maybe somebody else who might be struggling with the same or similar issues. The books will not find an answer to these issues but it will make it ok for kids to talk about them, ask questions and maybe come to their own opinions about them. Books are a great way for adults to connect to their children and to start up a conversation they would have not had otherwise.
Controversial Issues in Children’s Books
Parents, teachers, guides in museums and even strangers are always helpful in answering the endless stream of questions that come out of children, but then there are those kinds of questions that seem to be too uncomfortable for most adults to answer. So instead of telling our children that we are unsure, uncomfortable, uneducated, embarrassed or are trying to figure out things for ourselves, we instead prefer to just act like those questions do not exist and ignore these issues.
Controversial subjects like the Nazi regime, homosexuality, adoption, death, or suicide affect young children just as much as they affect grown people. These are not subjects that can be postponed for a later time, until we decide the child is ready to understand or even acknowledge these issues. These situations do happen in their lives and sneak in unexpectedly. When issues like death and suicide happen in a child’s life we do not have the luxury to wait until we think that the time is ready. Life happens around us and children deserve the respect from us to be acknowledged as thinking and feeling individuals who deserve answers and our attention.
Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, who has degrees in Education and Psychology from the University of Alberta, writes “When kids feel overwhelmed, they may respond with aggressive behavior, bedwetting, academic problems, or separation anxiety…Even if kids can’t express themselves verbally, they still have strong emotions, feelings, and opinions about events in their lives” (p 1). These issues are hard to explain and even adults do not understand them. We should get help to address these controversial subjects by using resources that kids are comfortable with, like books or movies. Especially younger children feel comfortable in the world of picture books and cartoons, so why not use these familiar mediums to address these realistic issues? Case Western Reserve University psychologist Sandra Russ studies how play affects child development and child psychotherapy. She suggests not only finding an effective play therapist but to also “build relationships between kids and parents reading kids’ books dealing with similar subject matter” depending on the traumatic event the child is experiencing, “whether it’s divorce, family death, or school shooting”(Pawlik-Kienlen p1).
The National Association (2001), the National Education Association (2001), and the National Mental Health Association (2001) suggest that parents and adults “should let children know that disasters such as that which occurred on September 11” (Lu p1) can happen. It is a reality that our children need to know and need to learn how to emotionally deal with. The NEA also recommend, that we can use these disasters as a learning tool and use this time to educate children about tragic events in general. The National Education Association 2001 also states that “children’s literature offers an avenue to help children develop understanding of people of different backgrounds, as well as deal with tragedies and stressful situations” (Lu p1). When tragic events happen in children’s lives it is important that children do not focus their emotions, which can range from sadness, anger to rage, towards the wrong people. If an adult in their life died or got imprisoned, the child should be educated about the events so he or she does not grow up with anger towards certain groups, the government or other individuals.
When somebody does write a book or make a cartoon about these real life situations, these issues usually get addressed from one side only and the child gets stuck alone trying to figure out the real problems. For example, there are many children’s books and movies that have been made about the Nazi Holocaust, but most of these books tell a similar story: the horrible genocide of 6 million Jewish people and the brave heroic survival of some Jews, helped by a handful of brave people who hid and fed them, even though they were in danger of being killed themselves. This is probably one of the most important stories ever told, especially to children, but then there is also another story, an untold story: that of the child of the monster, like Nazis who murdered these humans in unthinkable ways.
The story of the little girl Rose Blanche by Roberto Innocenti is representative of many books made for children about the Holocaust. Innocenti tells the story of a little German girl named Rose Blanche, who lives in a small town during World War II. One day she follows the German military trucks passing through her town to a concentration camp and discovers people starving in there. Rose Blanche starts sneaking food to the famished people behind the barbed wire fence. Rose ends up dying by an accidental shot from a soldier during the American liberation of Germany, when she goes to help at the concentration camp one last time.
Innocenti beautifully tells the story of a little heroine who has compassion and risks her life to help these Jewish inmates in the concentration camp. The story however fails to address the fact that these people are in the camp because of the Germans. They did nothing to prevent the crazy monster Hitler from systematically killing millions of humans. This little girl is German and so are her parents, which means they are partly responsible for the fact that these people are in the camp to begin with. So the German girl’s parents are guilty and the girl is part of them. So even though Rose is helping the people she is also carrying the genes and killer blood of those who are starving them in the first place. If a German child is reading this story they feel compassion for the Jewish people and learn of the horrible things humans are capable of, but they also learn what their ancestors have done; even if they are too young to understand, they might realize that those Germans are their grandparents. Usually children’s books do not address those questions and leave the kids with unanswered uncertainties.
The families and especially children of the German leaders and Germans who lived during the Hitler regime are still trying to figure out their guilt about the horrible things their forefathers did. Norman Frank, the son of Hans Frank, one-time governor-general of Poland, principal defendant number seven at the International Military tribunal at Nürnberg, says “We aren’t going to undertake any action to recover any of my fathers’ supposed assets. We must write all those kind of things off, because they are loaded with guilt” (Lebert p 139). How could these children possibly become healthy, well-rounded productive citizens, unless we help them? We have to help them early in life. Even though these are tough subjects for anybody in any age, we have to find a way to address the issues and help the children heal. Children are so delicate and brittle but they do need a strong foundation to fulfill their full potential. “Children beginning to learn their place in the world, their own unique identity and the identities that they share with the rest of their group. In effect, children experience many of the circumstances that underpin the controversial nature of history in their daily lives” (The Historical Association p 8).
Children’s books are a great way to address difficult subjects if done carefully with the children in mind. It is a great way to reach children. Even second generation post-war German people are still trying to deal with the inherited guilt of their grandparents.
Dan Tetsell, who grew up with “an uncomfortable family secret-his grandfather was an SS officer” (p 1), writes in his article about his grandfather, whom he had never met, that “For many years, ever since as a child I really discovered the magnitude of the Holocaust and began to associate it with German heritage, my grandfather’s actions have held a slightly disturbing fascinations for me. Here was a member of my own family involved with the defining horror of the twentieth century…” (Tetsell p 1).Many children who are the surviving generations of those horrible mass murdering Nazi monsters have to live with the horrible knowledge of being the offspring of killers. These children are often left alone with their thoughts and feelings, wondering if the genetic part of them makes them something bad as well. Tetsell writes, “my grandfather’s membership of the Waffen SS has been an abiding obsession of mine…I am a direct descendent of a Nazi. His ‘racially pure’ blood-that ideological engine oil of the Third Reich-flows in my veins.” These thoughts and his obsession have started accumulating in him since the age of 10, when he learned about the Holocaust and the Germans.
Tim Luckhurst, a journalist, summarizes the book Hitler’s Children and explains that “the families of mass murderers are victims as well, and that does not just include the adults of the families” (p1). He also writes about the book by Gerald Posner, which is about the sons and daughters of Nazi war criminals. These children “even after 50 years after the war are still not prepared to be linked to their notorious fathers. Most had been infants when the outrages were committed” (p 2).
The book My Father’s Keeper shows how the surviving children of Nazi leaders were deeply affected by the sins of their fathers. Niklas Frank is the son of Hans Frank, who was the party jurist and head of Poland and was responsible for the deaths of millions of people. Niklas spend his life writing articles and books about “filth of his father’s life. In the final sentence of his book, Niklas imagines how he opens his mouth and bites into his father’s heart, and feels him screaming and screaming…until it stops pumping and goes limp” (Zilberg p 3). This shows extreme disturbance of a man who never dealt with his father’s horrible crimes against humanity because nobody explained it to him as a child. This should have been addressed when he was young and had learned about the man whose genes are running through his veins. These examples are the extreme, but many children do have to deal with their families or even their parents being murderers or criminals. These examples just show how important it is to be honest to children and help them cope with their issues so they can develop into a healthy individual. We owe who we are as adults mostly to our parents, who became who they are because of theirs. We are a part of our family history and our heritage but we need help to understand what that means and if that makes us a good or bad person without our own ability to change it.
Not many children have to deal with the fact that their parents or previous generations are Nazis. Often children do have to deal with one of their parents being in jail for a crime they committed, being an alcoholic or abusive. “There are 2.4 million children in America who have a mother or father in jail or prison, according to the Federal Resource Center for Children of Prisoners. More than 7 million children have a parent under some form of correctional supervision, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics” (Christian p1).These are real issues and real life circumstances that happen and that children witness and are part of. So for a child to develop into a healthy functioning adult these things need to be dealt with. Children need to be taught that just because one or both of their parents have done bad things, this does not make them necessarily bad people and definitely does not make the children themselves bad people either. The child is not responsible for the sins of their fathers or forefathers, but they do need to acknowledge these issues and know about what has happened. Protecting them from the subject does not make it go away; it just makes very confused children, who end up having to deal with huge issues on their own.
Francine Lucas-Sinclair, who recently formed Yellow Brick Roads, an organization which links people to organizations that assist families of incarcerated children, and the daughter of former Harlem heroin drug lord Frank Lucas (who inspired the movie American Gangster), says about children of incarcerated parents, that “mentoring is especially important in the lives of children in this predicament; the child had no control over what the parents did. He didn’t pick his parents. I couldn’t control it. Society has to realize these children, no matter whose kids they are, deserve help” (Christian p 1). Francine Lucas-Sinclair also shares her personal story in another interview, where she talks about the feelings she had when she was a child growing up with the knowledge that both of her parents were incarcerated criminals. “Most children of incarcerated parents don't want people judging them or judging their parents because it hurts them like they're judging them. So yes, shame, sense of abandonment, loss. Just confusion and worry” (Bronner p1). Children do not really understand what is going on and need help to understand these events. They do want to know the truth and they need to know that what happened to them is not their fault.
Children who are adopted often can find a loving family and can find educational books on the subjects that will teach them about the different kinds of families. These children early on learn that there are All Kinds of Families (a children’s book by Norma Simon) and that it is ok to be different, because love comes in all kinds of unique shapes and colors. “Healthy emotional life is nourished by the love, trust, sense of belonging, and support a family provides…many forms of family structure exist today” (Simon, p1).These books are about different families, consisting of different people ranging from same sex couples, to different races, or Grandmothers raising their grandchildren... The books explain to children “that not all families are composed in the traditional way” (Simon, p1).
And there is the beautiful written true story of the penguin named Tango who gets raised by two boy penguins named Roy and Silo, who “were a little bit different” (Richardson, p6) because they did not spend any time with girl penguins and only time with each other. They even decided to build a nest with each other, but when it was time to put an egg inside they did not have one, because they were both boys. This is how the zoo keeper gave a parentless egg to the couple, who cared for the egg and raised the baby penguin Tango. All of these books have something in common. They are all great books and help address some of the controversial issues sensitively, but they all fail to explain the even harder to address issues. They do not explain where the birth parents are to those children who have been adopted by a same sex couple or are being raised by their grandparents. Tango will want to know why his genetic parents abandoned him and did not want to care for him. He does not only have to deal with the fact that he has been adopted and that his parents are both male, but also will have to come to an understanding about the fact that he was rejected before he was even born. This is a real tough issue to address and a lot of adults prefer to ignore these deeper psychological problems that lay deeper under the surface. Children will wonder if their biological parents are not raising them because they had not been good enough or if something is wrong with them. The children learn that it is ok to be part of a nontraditional family and that love for each other is all that matters, but they will ask themselves if their birth parents did not love them and they will want to know why.
“Kids have strong emotions, feelings, and opinions about events in their lives” (Pawlik-Kienlen, 1). In the book Still Here with Me, children write about the loss of one of their parents. Children talk about their real life experiences, their feelings of pain, loss and anger and the silence of others. Adults chose to be silent about the horrible incidents of suicide of a parent and the child is left alone to figure things out on their own, trying to rebuild a life that has been changed forever. The book shows that children know and understand much more than adults give them credit for. Edgar N. Jackson writes in his book Telling a Child About Death how important it is to have resources and information available for the child. The child needs help to understand what has happened and will act out emotionally. “Information is helpful, and in talking things over, he should have solid facts to hold on to…grief is a feeling compounded of uncertainty, loss, insecurity, and fear, it is important to make every effort to give the child information where possible, closeness and warmth...”(Jackson , p72).
Children need the support of adults and resources like books and other child-friendly media to educate themselves about these tragic occurrences in their lives. Helen Fitzgerald, the director of the first grief program in the nation established in a community center and a therapist trying to help grieving people, advises in her book The Grieving Child that help the child grieve the death of a loved one there are things the parents can do, for example “have a book on death in your child’s library…books can play an important part in opening up this difficult subject with children. First, reading to a child is a natural, comfortable, and enriching activity for both parent and child. Books are often helpful when it comes time to talk about something that it difficult. It is easier to address a painful topic when you have already created this caring atmosphere…” (Fitzgerald, p 45). So books can not only help the child understand a difficult issue but can also help the adult in the healing process.
Adults are uncomfortable talking about certain issues and a book can help open the communication between the child and the parent. In the book Motherless Daughters, Hope Edelman interviewed numerous women who have lost their mothers. Hope, who lost her mother in an early age herself, decided to write the book after she was unable to find any literature on this subject for her own healing. Many of the women describe their childhood, after their mother had passed away, as a time of silence. “no one was talking to me as my mother died…there was both an emotional push not to discuss it because it was too painful, and also an inability and inexperience among most of my family members to deal with feelings in any way” (Edelman, p38). Until these women became older and had professional help with psychologists or therapists, they had suppressed their feelings and emotions about the loss of their mothers. One woman was unable to talk about her mother until she had therapy in her late thirties and even then she “folded up her body and said, no, no, no. I can’t take the pain” (Fitzgerald, p 39). Tragic events in children’s lives can make them unhealthy adults unless these issues are dealt with early in life. These events can entail the death of a loved one or even a catastrophe that affects everybody like the events of September 11.
Mei-Yu Lu’s article Children’s Literature in a Time of National Tragedy, which is about the tragic events of September 11th, 2001 and offers suggestions on how to help children understand and cope with stresses in their lives like such a tragic event, reports on how literature for children can help. The National Association of School Psychologists (2001) explain that parents and teachers can help a child understand and cope with a tragedy through the use of literature.”Children’s literature offers an avenue to help children develop understanding of people of different backgrounds, as well as deal with tragedies and stressful situations…using literature to help children cope with personal and social issues, develop positive and accurate attitudes toward people of different backgrounds, and express their feelings regarding this national tragedy”( p 2). Books are very powerful and can not only help the children to heal and deal but can also start a dialogue between the children and their parents. Parents that did not know how to start the conversation about such extreme stressful tragedies in their lives, who are still trying to understand what happened, can now start to heal with their children by opening up and sharing their thoughts and feelings. Reading a book with your child is not only a great way to spend quality time together, but also a great way to start a conversation and sharing moment. “Any good children book can help a child deal with worries and fears” (Needlman p 1).
Children in general are curious and want to learn about the world. Children just have to “want to care enough about the issues to arouse both their curiosity and their willingness to engage fully with the questions that are likely to require hard thinking and problem-solving…Personal engagement is much more likely when the children are themselves encouraged…”( The Historical Association p 3 ). It does not take a lot to make a child want to know more about a subject, especially if they are personally involved in the issue, which is the case when it is part of their own history. When children want to find out more about their forefathers or where they come from, this curiosity and willingness to learn needs to be supported and cherished. Even if the history of their parents or roots is not pleasant, they have the right to learn even about these controversial subjects. Adults often want to avoid these issues for a variety of reasons “…such as feeling that certain issues are inappropriate for particular age groups…but even with the youngest pupils, there are opportunities to place people and the issues they face in a range of contexts” ( THA p 4-5).
Children will always have questions, and sometimes adults get annoyed and do not want to answer them. But sometimes it is the questions that our children are not asking, because they do not know how that need to be answered. Children deserve to at least have us as adults give it a try. Even if we are uncomfortable with the subject or have gone through a painful event ourselves, our children are part of our lives and are part of these events as well. Children’s books can help open up the communication between parent and child, because the adult as well may not know how to open up the communication. It is not necessary to have all the answers but it is important to start the dialogue and to give the child additional resources. Books are a great way to introduce a difficult subject to a small child who otherwise might feel alone and misunderstood. It is our responsibility as adults to make all resources available. Adults should not be afraid to address any topic, and feel free to use a book on the issue as a way to ease into it. We do have a lot of great children’s books on controversial subjects such as different and unique families that do not fit the traditional make up of a family but love their family members just as much, or books that talk about the Holocaust and the heroic girl that saves people by bringing them food. But we are still missing the children’s books that dig deeper. Children need answers to the issues like the girl that saves some Jews but who is also the daughter of the people who put them in the camps to begin with. Children who get adopted learn from the books that their adoptive parents love them unconditionally even though they are not their own, but these children want to know why their birth parents do not have these feelings. They need to know if they are not worth loving and why they had been given away. Parents commit suicide and books help these children with their grief, but these books do not explain how the parent did not love them enough to stick around and stay alive for their sakes. Children’s books are an important tool for children to help them through a lot of things in life and they have come a long way. More books need to be written, drawn, bought and read.
Summer 2008, by Tanja Bungardt-Price