30 November 2013

Gluttony and Gratitude


On our national holiday of Thanksgiving, how much time is apportioned to that aim? It seems this holiday has become a carnival of gluttony -- a gluttony of overeating, overspending, and over extending. It's the start of a season of excess, just TOO MUCH of everything. Black Friday (which starts now on the day before -- the day of Thanksgiving) is a gluttony of overspending, often for no more than just a "good price." We don't even stop to consider that no matter how "good" the price is, it's expended for something we really don't need and could easily do without. We are lost in an orgy of bargain-finding, a free-falling descent into the dehumanizing free-for-all over those oh-so-fabulous "doorbuster" deals that really aren't and of which there are never enough available. And, our pursuit of this excess denies those poor workers even this day of rest -- for, how can they revel in time with family and friends and still serve us? I'm not the first person to bemoan the gluttony of the holidays, nor of society in general:

He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have. -- Socrates

Do you think it is a vain hope that one day man will find joy in noble deeds of light and mercy, rather than in the coarse pleasures he indulges in today -- gluttony, fornication, ostentation, boasting, and envious vying with his neighbor? I am certain this is not a vain hope and that the day will come soon. -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamzov

Let me have men about me that are fat; sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights; yonder Cassius has a lean and hungry look; he thinks too much; such men are dangerous. -- William Shakespeare

We have let ourselves become consumed with the pursuit of TOO MUCH. We stunt ourselves and our children, our society and our nation in this pursuit. The stagnation of our government and our economy is the tangible result of our avaricious pursuit of all the newest, shiniest, most prestigious STUFF. We ourselves have been so consumed by this pursuit that we've allowed a minority of extreme viewpoints to seize power in our nation -- to the left and to the right. The majority middle have become the "…fat; sleek-headed men…" too busy with the "…coarse pleasures he indulges…" to stand up and be counted for what is right and reasonable in our natures, in our nation, in our whole world.

Sometimes, it seems that gratitude itself has become an archaic concept. Examples of gluttony, of excess abound. We see it in our expanding bodies, our expanding debt, our groaning and overladen tables, and our bulging closets and cupboards. It can never be enough. The voices of reason and restraint are drowned out by the raucous haranguing that never stops urging us to buy more… eat more… wear more… change more… MORE… MORE… MORE…

But, here's the thing: in our gluttonous pursuits, we lose the ability to see our bounty. We forget how to be grateful, to give thanks. Gratitude enriches us by opening our eyes to the riches we already possess, that we have no need to pursue. Gratitude makes us better human beings. It opens space for us to relax and enjoy what we already have and to appreciate the grace and miracles that abound in every moment of every single day. And, it moves us to live as we would go on in the world to preserve that bounty.

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. -- Epicurus

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. -- John F. Kennedy

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. -- Cicero

by D. Denise Dianaty
© 30 November 2013

Pick up your own copy of my first book of poetry at My Life In Poetry

23 October 2013

Peace and calm I’ve found in Christ – Scripture Verses

Ever have one of those days? A day when everyone seems to be out to really tick you off? I've found the following scriptures (from the NIV) of help in finding that calm we all hope to seek at such times. 

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

2 Thessalonians 3:16
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

20 October 2013

Follow the Money

Follow the Money

I have an observation. They tell us that each generation pays into Social Security for the preceding generation. So, my parents paid for their parents and my generation is paying for my parents. Okay, there are way more Baby Boomers (my parents generation) than there is of the generation following them (the current generation). However, there was an even larger percentage more Baby Boomers than the generation that preceded them (my grandparents).

Now, the Baby Boomers have been paying in all their lives for a generation that they far and away outnumber. More than will EVER draw from the money paid on their behalf. But, our generation is supposed to support those Baby Boomers with a fraction of the pay-in to the system.

And, what about all those illegal aliens with falsified documents? Every time they're hired, it can take  months to get the warning that something isn't quite copacetic with their paperwork. All that time, their taxes and unemployment insurance and Social Security is taken out for every dollar they earn. Now, they just take those falsified documents and go somewhere else with a new set of falsified references and go through the same process again. Over and over and over until they are finally caught or legalized. So, who's tracking those Social Security contributions? 

Next, think about all those folks who work all their lives, dutifully paying in their Social Security. Then, when their kids are all grown, before they ever get the chance to collect that Social Security, they pass away. What happens to their lifetime of contributions?

So, where's all the money those hard working Baby Boomers paid in? Where's the money paid in under those false documents? Where's the money paid in by everyone who dies before they draw the first dime?

12 September 2013

Remembering the Whole Truth of 9/11

September 11, 2001… It's a date etched forever in our national memory… a date it would be shameful not to honor. So many people died that day, people of all nationalities… of all races… of all faiths. We forget that. We remember the day, but only for a select group of victims… only the ones that matter, the Remembered. We conveniently omit those "others," even the heroes. They are the Forgotten.

We mourn the losses of 9/11 and try to comfort each other and the those who lost loved ones. We assure them and each other of the validity of our grief, of our right to mourn. Who mourns for the Muslim dead? Who comforts the Muslim mourners in their grief? Muslim mourners have become the silent, forgotten victims of 9/11, dehumanized and victimized daily by a rhetoric that makes them inconvenient at best, vilifies them as somehow responsible at worst, in all ways ignoring their loss… denying their right to mourn.

From CNN
 You won't find Mohammed Hamdan among the names of the first responders that etched in a wall at the 9/11 memorial in New York. But on the day of the 9/11 attacks, the 23-year-old certified EMT and onetime NYPD police cadet skipped his job at a university research lab to rush to the World Trade Center. Not long after, his family posted Hamdan's picture on a wall of the missing. Six months later, his remains were found in - 34 parts. "He did not stop to wonder are they Christian or Muslims or are they Jews or their ethnicity or their color." Mrs. Talat says of her son's actions on 9/11. "It's just humanity."

From NY Times
"A Nation Challenged: Portraits of Grief: The Victims…" comes the small story of another forgotten hero, a Muslim from Yemen, Abdu Malahi. "On Sept. 11, Mr. Malahi ignored warnings to flee the building and stayed to help evacuate the hotel guests."

The Muslims who marched in DC are Muslims in AMERICA. It was the WORLD Trade Center. Many Muslims died that day too. The tragedy of 9/11 happened to them too.

From USA TodayYet 9/11 had more Muslim victims (about 60 of nearly 3,000 killed) than terrorist hijackers (19).

They included an assistant bank vice president and a cook, a commodities trader and a waiter, an insurance executive, a security guard and an IT guy.

They included immigrants from all over: Sarah Khan, a cafeteria manager from Guyana; Syed Abdul Fatha, a copy machine operator from India; Zuhtu Ibis, a computer technician from Turkey. There was Michael Baksh, a Pakistani immigrant on his first day of work at the insurance firm Marsh & McLennan, and Abdoul Karim Traore, who had risen at 3 a.m. that day to deliver USA TODAY before reporting to work as a cook at Windows on the World restaurant. Karamo Trerra, a computer tech, was ready to celebrate his fourth wedding anniversary on Sept. 12.

11 September 2013

Bikers' Ride Never Denied

There's so much in our country we SHOULD be focused on… So much wrong with our politicians -- Republican and Democrat alike. Why must we be bogged down by FALSE protests? These knee-jerk reactions do nothing except tear down our country and destroy the sense of community we should be building. 

The latest divisive, HATE MONGERING Facebook spam post is the numerous and vitriolic posts about 2 million bikers being denied a "No Stop" permit to ride in DC. My Facebook wall has been overwhelmed by posts about this --  sowing dissension and hatred. Ignoring fact and history.

We are being led into bearing false witness every time we share, every time someone reads the post on our Facebook wall, even if they're only reading someone else's post while scanning our wall. Scripture tell us: Exodus 23:1 NIV - Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witnessProverbs 19:5 NIV - A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free. Proverbs 21:28 NIV - A false witness will perish, and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever. As Christians, we are called to support and speak the truth: Ephesians 4:15 NIV - Let our lives lovingly express the truth in all things speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly. As stated so eloquently by Pastor Adrian Rogers, "It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, then falsehood that comforts and then kills. It is not love and it is not friendship if we fail to declare the whole counsel of God. It is better to be hated for telling thetruth than to be loved for telling a lie."

Yet again… They WERE NOT denied a permit to ride. Please, support their ride -- it is their right. But, calm down people. They WERE NOT -- that's right -- NOT denied a permit to ride. They were ONLY denied a permit allowing them to pass through all the traffic signals and stop signs without stopping -- i.e. a "Not Stop" permit. No one cares about the truth. 

Speaking of TRUTH -- Muslims did not bring down those planes -- Extremist terrorists with an agenda to sow hatred and dissension, fear and mistrust (quite successfully -- obviously) brought down those planes. Those particular extremists just happened to claim to be Muslim. 

Too many terrorists who just happen to claim to be Christian have had this same goal -- just not with such spectacularly horrific footage and media blitz coverage. Check this article: : http://www.salon.com/2013/08/03/the_10_worst_examples_of_christian_or_far_right_terrorism_partner

And this one: 

Here’s another article on the subject:

Please, let's get educated about the issues before spamming the world with erroneous posts. Let's stop helping the hate mongers.

26 June 2013

Liars and Fast Food

My husband is a GM for one of the major fast food chains. He's been with them for five years. He had twenty years of experience in casual (sit-down and family style) restaurants prior to beginning fast food. I don't know, maybe it's the impersonality and drive-thru mentality of the fast food industry. But the customers are so easily rude, greedy, dishonest, and just downright mean!

Last night, the store (they don't even refer to the fast food establishment as a restaurant -- it's a store) had a customer who insisted on being given the GM's cell number. This man calls my husband and proceeds to unload at him. I can only hear my husband's end of the conversation. But, I'm sitting there, cringing to hear how he's crawling to this guy. It really turns my stomach to think he's forced to grovel to anyone like this. But, no offer of gift cards or returned money will satisfy this guy. He wants, not just this day's ticket back, but something for some incident he claims happened a couple of weeks ago as well. My husband even told him to come in for another meal -- AND a gift card! This guy STILL insisted on the District Manager's number, whom he proceeded to call claiming that my husband was rude and hateful to him. You just know the DM gave him something like a $50 gift card. That's what usually happens in these cases.

I just don't know what gets into people. In 25 years in the food industry, fast food is the only place my husband has encountered this kind of behavior. Don't these people have family or friends who worked in fast food when they were younger, if not themselves? Don't they realize they are hurting real people with real families? Can you imagine what it was like for our nine year old to listen to his father groveling to anyone? What about those poor souls who get fired over someone like this guy? It's a mystery to me how people can go through life behaving this way with no thought to fallout they leave in their wake.

19 April 2013

Who doesn't love Sloppy Joes?

We all love those bad for you, loaded with sugar and bad fat, Sloppy Joe's. Probably, you remember Manwich fondly. If you've ever made them, however, you know that they're full of sugar and ketchup. They don't have to be. You can eliminate the added sugar and the ketchup (which, after all, is mostly sugar too) by substituting ground carrots and balsamic reduction, then using tomato paste. My boy loves them! The kids in his church group loved them too. Try this recipe:

1/2 cup raw ground Carrots (@ 3 whole, peeled organic)

3 tbs Balsamic Vinegar
3 tbs Worcestershire Sauce
3 to 4 ounces Tomato Paste
1 tsp Better Than Bullion Soup Base
5 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
2 or 3 medium to large cloves of Garlic, minced (or ground with carrots)
4 tbs finely chopped Parsley (about a solid fist full of Parley leaves)
3 Green Onions, finely minced
1 small diced Sweet Onion, gently caramelized
1/2 cup petite diced Tomatoes, drained
Black Pepper - to taste
1.5 to 2 lbs 93% lean ground beef (or ground round)

Pre-measure the wet ingredients, with the Balsamic in a dish by itself. Begin by gently caramelizing the onion in 1 tbs EVOO, on medium low heat. In your food processor, grind the carrots as fine as possible; add to the onion with garlic, parsley, and green onion; cook just until all moisture is gone; set aside. Brown the ground beef in the remaining EVOO, breaking it up as you cook it; set aside. Turn up the heat to high; in the sizzling skillet, add the Balsamic Vinegar and deglaze the pan; when all the brown goodness is loosened and mixed in the Balsamic, add the Worcestershire, Tomato Paste, petite diced Tomatoes, and Soup Base; stir until smooth and just beginning to bubble. Add meat and veg; mix well; reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes (at least until liquid cooked out). It should be a slightly sticky consistency. Serve with coleslaw on the sandwich for even more veggie goodness.

NOTE: make sure you use whole, but smallish carrots for the best natural sweetness. Double or triple the recipe to freeze in batches for a future quick meal. If you use the product Balsamic Reduction, use 4 teaspoons and save some of the juice from the diced tomatoes to deglaze the pan.

30 January 2013

Mo and Ron, and Morhonda

Let me introduce you to Mo and to Ron. 

We all know them. 

Mo and Ron are on the roads with us. Often, they are in company with their sister, Morhonda, and with their idiot cousin and twit uncle.

Mo-Ron always seem to party together all the time. 

If yours is the only car approaching an intersection, Mo will wait until you’re right on top of him to jump out and turn in front of you, making you slam on your brakes, send your packages flying, splashing your hot coffee all over you and your new suede jacket. 

Ron will follow close behind you, trying to drive up your tailpipe, and lay on his horn when you’re not going fast enough. 

Morhonda will be applying her makeup while texting or talking on the phone. She may even take time to notice the hot dude in the Mercedes in the next lane and try to seduce him, even at high speeds.

Sometimes, Mo will stop short in front of you. 

Often, Ron will turn left across two lanes, without signaling. 

Morhonda will, on occasion, knowingly cut you off or turn illegally in front of you, then flash a grin of idiocy and shrug in mock apology.

Mo and Ron and Morhonda have a death wish for you. 

Mo-Ron will come at you in full-on, nuclear road rage. 

Mo-Ron will cause accidents and abuse their victims as being at fault with many vulgar epithets calling your intelligence and driving skill into question. 

You will be too well-bred and polite to lay them out with the tire iron, and then will castigate yourself for your own impotence in the face of Mo-Ron’s gleeful abandon of all things reasonable and considerate. 

The concept of road etiquette is an alien concept to Mo-Ron. Morhonda thinks road etiquette is something she -- and she alone -- should benefit from.

And, to our secret shame, sometimes, our loved ones, and yes, sometimes -- all too often -- even we ourselves are Mo-Ron.

Worse yet, for our world, Mo, Ron, and Morhonda do not confine their lunatic idiocy to the roadways, inflicting it upon us everywhere, everyday – loudly and vociferously. Beware the impulse in us to be Mo, Ron, and/or Morhonda!

29 January 2013

Reasonable Folks

Okay. Here's what the gun issue needs: reasonable gun owners who speak out against unreasonable weapons. I know many people, very dear to me personally, who own guns. Guns for hunting, or protection. He never talks about it, but I'm certain my brother-in-law, a long-distance trucker, owns a hand gun that he carries with him on those long-hauls for necessary protection. Let's face it, it IS a dangerous world and some professions are more dangerous than others. Like-wise, my farmer brother-in-law owns guns for hunting and protection. Any farmer who’s ever had to deal with something after his livestock, or in the underbrush when he's clearing it out of the woods that stand next to his fields would find a gun necessary.

These, to me, are reasonable gun-owners. No one wants to take away their guns. They don't seem to believe anyone is trying to take away their guns. But, as with most politicized issues, the middle of the road, reasonable folks go unheard. Neither polarized side is interested in what they have to say.

Let's find these people. Not just for the gun-issue. Let's listen to them. Let's turn away from the extremes of every argument in today's headlines. If we do, we might finally achieve solutions out of those headlines.

25 January 2013

Editorial commentary: Abortions After Rape 'Tampering With Evidence?' Seriously?!

Okay, here's a link to the original article in question: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/24/new-mexico-abortion-bill_n_2541894.html

Rape victims who become pregnant by their attacker could face three years in prison for tampering with the evidence. The idea is that the baby is DNA evidence in a criminal investigation and prosecution.

Let's set aside the question of whether abortion is right or wrong. That's superfluous to issue. Abortions are not currently illegal. The logical question is: Isn't all the DNA to be found in the aborted fetus the identical DNA that would be found in a live birth infant? Wouldn't evidence actually be simpler and more expediently obtained from an aborted fetus? If that pregnancy should be the only definitive proof of the rapist's identity, would our legal system be permitted to incarcerate the perpetrator until that pregnancy had run to term? 

Our culture persists in stigmatizing victims of rape, making them feel they'll be blamed, and feel victimized all over again by the judicial process. Rape victims are more than 13 times more likely to attempt suicide (source: http://www.musc.edu/vawprevention/research/mentalimpact.shtml) Would rape victims who attempt or commit suicide also be guilty of tampering with the evidence? Or obstruction of justice? 

I was trying to present a reasoned commentary. I just can’t. This woman is a monster! This woman would take America into a new Dark Ages, would put us on a level with the Nazi or Serbian war criminals. Our soldiers fought and died to defeat those monsters. What will we say to the daughters of our fallen who died to stop the monsters?

From Wikipedia: Enforced pregnancy from rape in conflict
Forced pregnancy from rape has been used in war and armed conflict as a form of psychological warfare, to humiliate undermine the morale of the enemy. Pregnancy from rape is recognized under the Geneva Convention as crimes against humanity and war crimes.[28]
During the 1992–95 Bosnian war pregnancy from rape was used as a form of genocide. There were reports of deliberately created "rape camps" intended to make captive Muslim and Croatian women pregnant. Women were reported to have been kept in confinement until late in their pregnancy. In the context of a patrilineal society, in which children inherit their father's ethnicity, such camps would create a new generation of Serbian children. The women's group Tresnjevka claimed that more than 35,000 women and children were held in such Serb-run camps.[29][30][31] Estimates range from 20,000[32] to 50,000[33] victims.[34][35][36] Feryal Gharahi of Equality Now reported:
Families were separated, and women and children were kept in the gym, where all of the women and girls over ten years old were raped in the first few days.... There are rape camps all over the country. Thousands of women are being raped and killed. Thousands of women are pregnant as a result of rape. Over and over again, everywhere I went in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Croatian refugee camps, women told me stories of abomination – of being kept in a room, raped repeatedly and told they would be held until they gave birth to Serbian children.[37]
Gita Sahgal of Amnesty International commented that, rather than being primarily about "spoils of war" or sexual gratification, rape is often used in ethnic conflicts as a way for attackers to perpetuate social control and redraw ethnic boundaries.[38]

This is an elected official, an attorney, and a woman. I shudder for my whole sex. I weep for our judicial and political system. 

I've been looking up this woman today and can find precious little of substance. On her Vote Smart biography, I did find a link to her voting record: http://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/110625/cathrynn-brown#.UQKUO0pU7Q8 and I looked at her Facebook page. Both offer scant information on her. According to Ballot Pedia, "Cathrynn Brown is a Republican member of the New Mexico House of Representatives, …District 55…elected in 2010. Brown is an attorney who practices transactional law. She has prior political experience as the Eddy County GOP chairwoman and a board member of the anti-abortion association Right to Life of Carlsbad."

Amendments to the measure have been made, but the bill is still being pushed forward. Here's a link to an article detailing Cathrynn Brown's recent activity on her infamous bill: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/bill-criminalizing-abortions-rape-victims-revised-article-1.1247726

17 January 2013

Being Momzilla and Trust

"I am Momzilla -- and proud to be." When my nine-year old isn't listening or is procrastinating, I remind him with that statement. I'm not letting it go; I'm not letting it slide. When you're supposed to practice your guitar, you WILL practice. When your supposed to do your homework, you WILL do your homework. When your chores need to be done, you WILL do them. You WILL be appropriately obedient. You WILL do what your told, when your told, the way your told, until it's done.

What does "appropriately obedient" mean? It means that he must always obey what is right. It means I will do my best to educate him morally and socially, as well as intellectually, so he can discern what is right. Even the Army teaches soldiers they are not to obey an illegal order. I also always keep my promise never to tell him to do anything that isn't right and proper. This includes never lying to my child about anything.

That, unfortunately, included Santa Claus. When I could no longer answer his questions without lying to him, I had to tell him the whole truth. I had never lied to him. I always told him that Santa is the Spirit of Christmas, that he embodies all that we should and want to be as people, all the time. That Santa teaches us to give selflessly, that we give gifts in rememberance of the gifts of the Magi to the infant Christ and in honor of the gift of Christ himself. I had always explained that Santa was Saint Nicholas and who he was.

But, it started with the question, "What does the Tooth Fairy have to do with Jesus." Well, I wouldn't lie. I said it had nothing to do with Him. That it was made up just for fun to take away some of the upset over a lost tooth. From there, he began asking very pointed questions about all those sweet childhood myths. So, just after his eighth Christmas, I told him the whole story.

Part of my reasons for shattering those myths was my own experience. When I was told all those stories, I had been asking questions for years. I had been lied to to maintain the illusions, partly, I think, to protect my three younger sisters' own illusions. What hurt me was not the loss of those sweet illusions or the supposed end of my childhood -- it was being lied to. I don't think I've ever trusted a thing my parents said since then.

I simply do not want my child to every have cause not to trust what I say to him about anything. And, I will always be ready to guide him, advise him, and lead by example to always act with honor, loyalty, and integrity in all things.

16 January 2013

Armed Teachers?

The NRA leadership, specifically Mr. LaPierre, has said we should put armed guards in schools and arm the teachers. I have a few questions.

“Where’s the money coming from for armed guards? Schools are eliminating programs. Teachers are underpaid. Class sizes are too big and getting bigger. All due to funding issues. Many schools can't provide current texts for all students. School bus routes are being reorganized to crowd more kids on the bus (3 to a seat instead of 2). What else would LaPierre cut from our children’s eduction to pay for armed teachers?

There's no good evidence guards prevent gun violence. How many banks are violently robbed in this country? Is there a bank WITHOUT armed guards? 

Did the guards, resource officers, school cops, etc. prevent tragedy?

How many big city precincts are within sight of violent crime being perpetrated? 

How much prison violence occurs in front of armed guards?

Will LaPierre pay for the arming the teachers? Will he pay for the weapons issued to those already income-depleted teachers cannot afford them? Where will he find these guards and teachers who will magically do what no other on campus responders have been able to prevent? The Secret Service could’t prevent the assassination of Lincoln or Kennedy. They couldn't prevent the shooting of Reagan and Brady. Will LaPierre’s armed guards and teachers succeed where the Secret Service cannot?

Does LaPierre even know any teenagers? Do we really want to put guns in the hands of people who teach the MOST obstructive, rude, impatient, aggressive, and annoying individuals? Has he ever met teenagers? These are fully-actualized people actively self-empowering more every day as they rightfully claim more independence in their exploration of their own personhood. But that comes with growing pains for the entire community. Individually, teens are every parent’s nightmare. Collectively, they’re more prone to mob mentality than any group I can think of. How many armed teachers will shoot a student before we’re in an uproar over teacher-on-student violence? 

How will we keep a clever, but disturbed kid from going on a shooting spree with the teacher’s conveniently on-site gun?