Now that the election has ended, wouldn’t it be nice if we could put our differences aside and remember that no matter if our candidate won or lost, we are all in this together?
I find it disheartening to see the posts on the internet and in the media that are so filled with hate and derision. Is this really who we want to be? Who we’ve allowed ourselves to become?
If we peel away all of the layers, at the bottom we will find that our goals are the same. We all want a happier more abundant life. We want our children to have opportunities and a future that looks promising. We want a peaceful loving world to live in.
Surely we must be wise enough to realize that our way of thinking is not the only way to think about something. We must know that we believe what we believe because of our own life experiences. We are not ‘right’ and they are not ‘wrong.’ We are simply seeing different ways to get to the solution we are all hoping for.
Can you guarantee that if your candidate won, everything would have worked out exactly as you thought it would? Can you guarantee that if your candidate won, all promises would be kept and our lives and the world would be much better? Of course you can’t. Nobody can. So why waste all this energy on regret and blame?
Many people I know talk of the fear that we are becoming a Godless country, and the people I know that say this are Christians. I grew up in a Christian religion, and I remember a song we used to sing. I don’t remember all of it, but I know the chorus was; ‘And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.’
Love. Not condemnation, judgment or exclusion. If you want to see the result of believing that your path to God is the only path, and it is your job to convert, condemn and punish those who don’t believe as you do, go to youtube.com and look up the footage of people jumping from the World Trade Center as it burns behind them.
The election is over. To continue the negativity and shameful behavior that was displayed by both sides during this process demeans us as a people.
Do you want to know who we are at our core? Take a look at what’s happening on the east coast as a result of Hurricane Sandy. While there are some exceptions, the great majority of people are uniting together and helping each other. This is what we do as people, this is who we are in our core. We are good people, who want the best for each other and those we love.
Can we focus on this now and be our best selves, and put the pettiness behind us?
Remember, our children are watching us….
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Now that the election has ended, wouldn’t it be nice if we could put our differences aside and remember that no matter if our candidate won or lost, we are all in this together?
Facebook likes to say that it is free and always will be. But if we continue to conduct our business on it, what will it eventually end up costing us?
Remember when we were kids and if our reasoning for wanting to do something was because everyone else was doing it, our parents would say ‘If everyone was jumping off a cliff would you want to do that too?’
This saying has been popping into my mind lately as facebook continues to take over the world of the internet.
I’m not saying facebook is a bad thing. It’s a wonderful creation and allows us a means of communicating on the web in a fresh new way. You can find old friends and family you’ve lost track of and rekindle your relationships and connections. Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard wunderkind who founded facebook, deserves props for his ingenuity.
It was launched and is described as a social media site, and it lives up to that title grandly. But it seems you can’t go on any business website anymore without them asking you to ‘like’ them on facebook, and I’m wondering why a social media site is encouraging businesses to use it as well? Does General Electric really need a facebook page? What’s the point? So we can keep up with the kooky antics of their zany CEO?
Call me paranoid (don’t even get me started on the Kennedy assassination) but doesn’t it seem like facebook is positioning itself to become the main, if not one and only, means of social and business communication on the internet?
From a fiscal point, I understand why they would want that to become the reality. With 845 million users and climbing, facebook is fast becoming the king of ad revenue. $4.27 billion was the projected number for 2011.
But if everyone is doing all of their business on facebook, what is going to happen to the traffic on individual websites? And as a result, website business in general?
The best thing about the internet is that for a minimal investment, anyone with a great idea can launch their own business. You pay $12 for a domain name, build a website and off you go. You send the link to your family and friends, and if they like it they do the same. On and on it goes, and if the web gods are smiling on you it’s possible you may have launched a career for yourself. Once your website is generating buzz, it’s time to start talking to investors. You put together a lovely little pitch, polish your shoes, take your business clothes out of mothballs and take a meeting with some nice person who has lots of money they want to invest in your business.
And one of the first questions they’re going to ask you is how much traffic your site generates.
The commerce of it is fairly simple; for any website to be a success it needs traffic. What traffic means is the number of ‘hits’ you get each day. ‘Hits’ are countable visits to your site. Lots of hits means lots of eyeballs are looking at your site every day. If you have lots of eyeballs looking at your site every day, you’re more likely to get sponsors who want to advertise on your site. Because those eyeballs will now be looking at their ads every time they come to your site, and they know the more their company images are burned into our brains, the more likely we are to reach for their product when we’re making purchasing decisions.
So, if we’re now not only doing our socializing on facebook, but our business communications as well, what does that mean for our potential to garner ad revenue, and consequently grow our own businesses?
Because of the company I’ve founded, I am connected to other women from all over the world who have similar interests. Most of them have also founded website companies. We all beg each other to like us on facebook like we’re a bunch of junior high students on the first day of school.
I see these posts all the time; “We’re up to 20,000 likes on facebook! Thank you so much!” 20,000 likes on facebook? That sounds awesome. It sounds like your business is doing great, but what does it really mean? For you and your business, probably nothing, but for Mr. Zuckerberg and his pals, it means they can literally start stuffing their mattresses with money.
Due to my interest in women’s causes, I’m also friends on facebook with hundreds of women who have websites that support women. They’re all wonderful websites, I’m sure. I can’t tell you with conviction, because I’ve never seen most of them. You know why? Because I don’t have to. I catch up with them every day on facebook. They post their latest positive message or update, but unless there’s an article with a link back to their site, chances are I won’t be visiting it. Which begs the question; what will happen to individual websites if we continue this facebook feeding frenzy? Ad sponsors won’t be advertising on individual websites because everyone will be advertising on facebook. The money flows where the people go. If we continue at this pace we may be looking at a day in the future when facebook has become so dominant that individual websites will have gone the way of the mom and pop grocery store. Before you roll your eyes, let’s take a moment to recall the past twelve years of our country’s political history and all agree that the phrase ‘that could never happen’ can now be eliminated from our vocabulary.
We should be wise enough by now to know that competition among business benefits the consumer, and a monopoly benefits only the business. If we continue jumping on this facebook bandwagon, we may one day find ourselves at its mercy.
It’s actually already begun. With the exception of about 17 people, everyone hates the new timeline facebook is forcing on us. It doesn’t matter if you want it. They’ve decided that for whatever reason, it’s better for us ( translate; them) and we have no say in the matter. You wake up one day and your page has been taken over by the timeline, without your permission.
This is a relatively minor issue, but imagine the kind of power they’ll have if they manage to make facebook our sole means of communication on the web, and how little say we’ll have over any of it.
I’m not begrudging facebook their success. It’s a wonderful example of what’s possible when you have a great idea and follow it through. I also understand and appreciate that a business needs to expand and make money. Most everyone wants to earn a good living, support their family and live an enjoyable life. But it seems in this day and age the only goal worth having is total market domination. It’s not enough to have a great product or a successful business, you have to become the biggest, the most powerful, and push everything to the breaking point. It’s power for the sake of power. It doesn’t matter if it’s good for all, it only matters if it’s good for you.
Facebook’s stock is going public soon, and when it does Mark Zuckerberg’s estimated worth will be $28.4 billion dollars. He is 27 years old. What exactly is the goal here? Is he hoping that when he finally gets to the pearly gates God pats him on the back and says, “Good job, kid. You’re the first. You actually do have more money than me.”
Chances are that the people filling their pockets with money over at facebook are never going to stop and say, ‘You know…what we’re doing isn’t really good for the economic growth as a whole. It’s actually only benefitting us and the people associated with us. In the end, it’s the average American that’s going to get screwed. Let’s stop leading these people around like sheep.’
If these last several years have taught us anything, it should have taught us that we need to use our brains and pay attention to what’s happening in our country. We allowed ourselves to become people who jumped on every bandwagon that went by because we were so afraid of being left out of the parade, without ever questioning the wisdom of the direction the parade was heading in. Just because a float is pretty and popular and everyone tells us it’s the place to be, doesn’t mean we should hop on.
We are intelligent people, and it’s time we started thinking for ourselves again. When everyone starts telling you you’re prehistoric if you don’t have a facebook page for your business, sit and think about the validity of that statement. If it will benefit your business, great, get one. But if your site is dependent on traffic, and having a facebook page will diminish that, why would you want to do business on facebook?
Facebook is a wonderful creation that has allowed the world to be connected in a marvelous and unique way. But it seems to be more and more apparent that the goal for facebook is to become our exclusive means of internet communication for pleasure and business. It also seems we are following this lead without question or forethought, and it’s time we stepped back and started asking some questions regarding this latest craze and how it will affect us all in the long run.
I don’t have the answers. I’m just full of questions. And I think it’s important that we all start asking questions before we ‘like’ ourselves right out of business.
There has been such emotionally charged coverage regarding women and their right to choose, I began to wonder how many of the people with these strong opinions have actually ever been in the situation where they had to make ‘the choice.’ I have, and I’d like to tell you the choice I made and why.
The month after my high school graduation (six weeks after senior prom) I went to the doctor because I wasn’t feeling well. She did a very thorough exam and took several tests. After what seemed like forever (this was 1979…no quick tests) she came back in the exam room and told me I was pregnant. I was shocked. I hadn’t felt very well and had missed a period, but they were always irregular. Pregnancy had never entered my mind.
My mother was in the waiting room, so I had to put on a brave face for the ride home. I wasn’t ready to tell her yet. So many thoughts were swirling in my head. I had been waiting for this time in my life for so long. In my house high school graduation meant one thing; FREEDOM. Whether you went to college or got a job, you were no longer under curfew in our house. Mom and Dad lightened up on the rules once you were of age. I’d turned 18 in my senior year, so I was done with high school and 18. This was the time I’d been looking forward to for years!
But as I rode home that night, I realized all those things I thought I’d be doing with my life during this time would now take a drastic turn. I always tell people that on the ride home that night I came to know two things; I knew I was going to have this baby, and I knew I would be doing it alone. The father and I had a stormy relationship at best, and I knew he was in no way ready to take on the responsibility of fatherhood.
Telling my parents was hard. Watching all my friends go off to college, living the life I’d been dreaming of was hard. Staying home on weekends was hard. Working full time to pay rent and bills and support a baby at nineteen was hard.
But here’s the key to the whole thing. The decision to have this baby was my choice. I loved him beyond reason, and the sacrifices I made were done in a spirit of a mother’s love for her child.
You really can’t explain to anyone what it’s like to go through something like that. You have to live it to know.
I often wonder what life for me or my son would have been like had I been forced to have him. If instead of leaving me alone to make my own choices, someone had decided I should be shamed and guilted into making the choice they felt was right for me. (How on earth can anyone propose to know what is right for someone else?)
If I was forced by other people’s judgment to make these sacrifices and endure those struggles, what would that have done to me? And consequently, my son?
If instead of a mother who made a choice because it was what she ultimately decided to do, my son had a mother who felt burdened with him and struggled to hide her shame because of that, would he be the kind, loving man he is today?
For those of you who propose that a woman carrying an unplanned pregnancy is cavalier or insensitive to the gravity of the choice she makes, let me tell you this; you are as wrong as you can be.
I made the choice I did, and I’m glad. I don’t deserve any accolades or medals because I chose to keep my baby. I didn’t do it to win anyone’s approval or acceptance. It was simply the choice I made.
I can also tell you that I have several girlfriends who have had abortions, some of who I went to the clinic with and nursed through their recovery. In every case, it was a difficult decision made after many tears and sleepless nights. Anyone who believes a woman makes this choice like she’s choosing what to eat for dinner that night is as wrong as wrong can be.
The point is, it’s not your business to decide if what’s she’s doing is right or wrong, or how much suffering and guilt should be placed upon her should she choose to terminate the pregnancy. It’s her business. If you trot out your religious beliefs to back up the shame and judgment you want to put upon her, I would like to remind you of what I was told over and over in my many years of religious education. “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”
For some reason it seems a popular belief that shame, degradation and fear are good replacements for contraceptives. Given the state of our society, if that were true our population would be down by millions.
The simple truth is, unplanned pregnancies happen. They always have, and probably always will. But to think you are somehow creating a more enlightened, happier, productive society by limiting a woman’s access to birth control or termination rights is ludicrous. To believe you should shame a woman into doing what you believe is the ‘right’ thing is a form of egomaniacal righteousness beyond comprehension.
I think it’s pretty simple…if you don’t have a vagina, you don’t get to say what can and can’t be done with them. And if you do….you only get a voice regarding your own.
Last week 60 Minutes aired an episode about Mt. Athos, a sacred mountain in Greece that is home to 22 monasteries.
Praying goes on 24 hours a day there, and all the monks are committed to a life of prayer that focuses on becoming closer to Jesus. The monasteries are thousands of years old, and because of this Mt. Athos is considered one of the most sacred sites on earth.
There are 35,000 visitors to this holy mountain every year, and they are all male. Women are not allowed on the mountain. One of the monks explained the reasoning behind this rule. “When these communities were first formed, women were allowed in as visitors. We found it distracting for the monks, and they didn’t stay as focused on their prayer life. That was when we instituted our policy that no women were allowed on the mountain.”
How do you feel about the fact that the answer to the monk’s inability to ‘focus on prayer’ with women present was to ban the women from this sacred site?
Though it has been more than twenty-five years since my brother’s death, I still remember that morning as if it were yesterday. I see in slow motion those first moments when we found out my twenty-two-year-old brother, Gary, had been murdered: Answering the phone. Handing it to my mother. Her collapsing. My father’s stricken face. The scene is etched in my memory like a permanent scar.
My brother was a musician who made his living as a drummer in a rock band. A true child of the sixties, Gary wore his hair long, lived each day with the belief that all men were his brothers, and preferred to “make love, not war.”
The details we received about the night he died were sketchy. He was killed in a small town in West Virginia, by someone he had once called a friend. The young man and my brother, who were housemate, had argued about something. When the discussion got heated, Gary, who never was one for fighting, said he didn’t want to argue and went upstairs to bed.
We’ve never gotten a true picture of what happened after that. What we do know is this: the young man, high on some substance that was a frequent companion of that lifestyle, either fought with Gary and stabbed him in the neck or crept up on him as he slept and cut his throat. In either case, the results were the same.
The call that changed our lives forever came early in the morning on March 7, 1975. It was the state police calling to tell us my brother had died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
Over the next few days funeral arrangements were made and relatives arrived. I was fourteen at the time, the youngest in a family of eight, which in one horrific instant was reduced to seven.
What I remember most is watching my mother. After the call came, she walked all over our three-story house wringing her hands and crying, repeating the serenity prayer over and over. She seemed to be searching for something, and many years later when I asked her what it was, she thought for a moment and then said, “I think I was looking for your brother.”
I also watched my mother the night of the wake. I followed her everywhere, needing to be near her. Not many words were spoken between us. What possibly could be said?
I was standing in the vestibule of the funeral home when the funeral director told my mother that she had a telephone call in the office. She looked a bit puzzled but followed him to the phone. I followed her.
After listening to her speak for a few minutes, I had a pretty good idea who the person on the other end was. After she hung up, she confirmed my suspicions and relayed the entire conversation. What she told me changed the way I have viewed life ever since.
The woman calling was the mother of the young man who killed my brother. They lived in another state. She didn’t know us and had never met anyone in our family. But she found it within her to track down my mother and tell her how sorry she was for what happened. She said her heart went out to my mom and that she would pray for our family.
What my mother said to her amazes me to this day. She didn’t curse this woman for brining someone into the world who had taken the life of her child. She didn’t vent all the rage and pain she must have been feeling on the mother of the man who had murdered her son. She did not thank her politely for calling but reject her apology, telling her she would need time before she would be able to even think about forgiveness.
Instead, my mother said, “My heart goes out to you. I now know where my son is every night. I know he is at piece and will come to no more harm. I will never again have to worry whether he’s cold or sick or needs me. Your pain with your son is just beginning. I will keep you both in my prayers.”
They exchanged a few more words, and then my mother hung up the phone and went back to the foot of the casket to accept condolences from those who had come to pay their respects to her son. As young as I was, I knew I had just witnessed something rare and beautiful.
The woman had the courage to reach out a hand to my mother, and my mother had the graciousness to accept it. These two women, both engulfed in sorrow, showed compassion such as I have rarely seen since. To this day, I am awed by the woman’s courage in apologizing to my mother and humbled by my mother’s unhesitating mercy in forgiving the unforgivable.
When the young man’s trial was taking place and people were encouraging my mother to fly to West Virginia to make sure the killer got what was coming to him, my mother’s heart remained the same. She said she would crawl to West Virginia if it would bring Gary back, but since it wouldn’t, she saw no reason to spend her energy making sure someone else suffered.
I don’t remember my mother ever lecturing me on the need to forgive others, even when we believe that what they’ve done is unforgivable. Instead, in a way no words could have, she showed me the need for – and the power of – forgiveness by demonstrating this truth.
I am now a grown woman with grown children of my own. With each passing year, I am more aware of the incredible lesson of forgiveness I witnessed that night. Whenever I hear someone recite a talk of why something that someone has done to them is unforgivable, I remember.
My mother is seventy-five years old. She has fourteen grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren. I’m sure, if asked, she would say she has never accomplished anything great in her life, never done anything particularly special. But I would disagree. Although my mother received no awards and no newspaper headlines for what she did, she is a hero nonetheless. And I wonder if it is not these extraordinary acts of forgiveness and kindness by ordinary people that change the world for the better for the rest of us. I know it did for me.
by Mary Long