Faith- Based Initiatives

So, this is going to be another blog entry on faith – just thought I’d give you all fair warning, in case that’s not your thing. I plan on covering two very different faith-related topics, and one of them might be upsetting to some people, so I’ll leave that one for last.

First up is this – I think I want to find a church of some kind to go to. I was raised Catholic, but I’m not sure that’s where I am; I don’t think my ideas tend to line up with Catholic teachings very well, and so I don’t think that would work very well for me. And aside from my knowledge of Catholicism, my experience with church in Houston has been pretty limited. I enjoyed going to church the few times I went with Calla, but given that we are no longer on speaking terms, I think it would be weird for me to go there; I don’t want her to feel like I am trying to intrude on her life or her faith, and I also think seeing her would be a constant reminder of how much that messed with my life. So that is out, and that’s my only real church-going experience in Houston. So I am looking for a place I can go that will accommodate, or at least not be outright dismissive of, my beliefs. I’ve never really looked into finding a new church before, so I don’t really know how this goes. Ideally, I’d want to go to or belong to a church that has some times, apart from services, that are explicitly for discussion; I don’t want to force my beliefs on anyone, but I think that more in-depth discussion of theological matters might help me to articulate what I’m thinking more clearly, as well as give me more of a faith-based outlet in my life – which seems like something that would be helpful right now. I’m open to suggestions, if anyone has any.

And now, on to the part that might be offensive or triggering to some people. Going beyond this point will result in reading about the anger and disgust I’m feeling right now at some people who consider themselves Christian, but don’t seem to be in anything but name. You have been warned.

So, Josh Duggar has been in the news lately. For those of you who don’t know who he is, he is a son of the Duggar family, stars of the TLC channel show ’19 Kids and Counting’. And, apparently, some years ago – it seems around 2002 – he molested a number of young girls, including, it seems, several of his sisters. And his father, at least, knew about it – and did nothing. Well, not until 2003, when he reported it. Not to the police, though – to his church elders. They recommended that Josh get counseling – but his counseling consisted of manual labor and talking to someone who had no training in counseling. When they finally went to the police, they went to a friend of Josh’s dad – who only gave him a stern talking to (it turns out that police officer was later in his own hot water for child pornography, but that’s not the issue here). And that was apparently it, until last week, when details came out and Josh apologized. And, of course, many people leaped to his defense, saying he had, in his father’s words, “made some very bad mistakes“, but had been forgiven by God. Even former Governor Mike Huckabee (a personal friend of the Duggars stood up in Josh’s defense, saying, among other things, “Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.

Well, that’s bullshit. They were clearly not open and honest about it. If they were, it wouldn’t have taken 12 years – well beyond the statute of limitations for his crimes – to come to light. It was handled in-house – by his dad, their church elders, a friendly police officer. And then swept under the rug. He abused several young girls – some of them his own sisters – and it seems he got almost nothing in the way of consequences. And so the idea that he has been forgiven is laughable, especially since he probably has not sought forgiveness from the people he wronged. But what I find really disturbing about this, and which angers and disgusts me, is that no thought seems to have been given to Josh’s victims. Were they given counseling (and by this I mean real, professional counseling)? Were they helped in their time of need, after having their trust in someone who should have been a protector – for several of them, a big brother – violated in such a terrible and fundamental way? Were they treated with compassion, given all the care and help that, as devout Christians, they should have been able to expect from their fellows in their church? Given the way this was handled, I doubt it – they were probably given no thought at all. No punishment was ever truly sought for their abuser. I have seen nothing to indicate there was any effort to give them even token effort at help. Having known people who have suffered abuse – maybe not exactly like this, but similar – it offends and sickens me that the victims of this seem to have been totally ignored. Josh wasn’t the one who needed help – they were. They needed to know it wasn’t their fault, that the shame and guilt was on him, not them. That this family claims to be so strongly Christian yet seems to have neglected the needs of their own abused family to protect the reputation of their criminal son – because that’s what his acts were, criminal, not simply ‘mistakes’ – shows them to be hypocrites. It makes me sick to my stomach and makes me shake in anger to think that these people could represent any part of my faith.

Alright, that’s it, rant over.

Exhaustion

Man, I am tired. Hell, I am exhausted. Mentally, emotionally, physically.In the last few months, I have lost someone I thought was a good friend, had another good friend move away, had work go crazy, flown to Omaha and back over a weekend, had my grandfather die, and found out I didn’t get into the graduate program I have been working for much of the last year trying to get into.

My back hurts. My feet hurt. I just got over being sick. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in at least two weeks. And that’s just the physical stuff. Last night was the first time I’ve had to myself in about a week, and being an introvert, that’s important. I like being around my family, and I know it’s important for something traumatic, like my grandfather’s memorial service. It helped to have family around, and I know we all needed it. I was just glad to get some time to myself, not because I dislike my family, but just because being around people all the time, even people I like, just drains me mentally and emotionally.

So things have been pretty lousy lately. And a couple years ago, that would have been the road to something bad, and possibly fatal; I would probably have started on a road to deep, deep depression that would would likely have lasted for months, if not years, and might have eventually culminated in a suicide attempt. I know some people are still worried that a cascade of bad things happening like this will send me down that path anyway, and I can’t really blame them; it’s happened in the past.

But even though it’s been a pretty lousy couple of months, over the last two years I’ve had a lot of preparation for handling these kinds of things in my life. A lot of awful things have happened, and I do feel bad. But I also know that despite how I feel now, they won’t last forever. And one of the things that’s been on my mind a lot for the last week is my grandfather, who was a pretty amazing man.

As a little background, my grandfather was 93. He was a soldier in World War II, serving under Patton in the 3rd Army, and taking part, to some degree, in the Battle of the Bulge. That was one of the most miserable parts of the war on the western front, and yet despite that, all the letters he sent home to my grandmother were positive; he never complained about things like being stuck with summer clothes in winter. And for my lifetime, that same positive attitude was one of the biggest things I remember about my grandfather. He never got angry, or started yelling, and feeling sorry for himself. Even when he had trouble hearing, or started having trouble walking, or couldn’t drive anymore, he never seemed miserable. It was one of the things basically everyone he knew remembered most about him.

I don’t know that I can get to that degree of optimism; I am naturally a pretty cynical person, and, let’s face it, I do have clinical depression – even on a great day, my life is probably not going to be all sunshine and puppies. But I know that I can at least try and look on the bright side and be more optimistic; that’s what the whole idea of the gratitude challenges I’ve done have been about. I’m not really sure how I’m going to get there; right now I still need to deal with the fallout of my personal life’s wreckage and the fact that, without grad school, I need to find something else to do with my life. But I know that at the least, I can try to follow the example of my grandfather.

But right now, I have work tomorrow. So I’m going to try and get a jump on this exhaustion and get some sleep.

Disavowal

My head has been a weird place to be lately, and I’m not really sure why. I know that part of it is just the intense feeling of… I’m not sure what to call it. Betrayal? Maybe not that dramatic, but it certainly caused a mess in my head when it happened last month. Someone I had felt very close to had gotten back in touch with me after a very bad parting of the ways a few months earlier, and I was very glad of that – maybe too glad, I guess. I don’t like losing people, and so when I felt like this person might be coming back into my life, I guess I didn’t really look at it that closely, and when this person again decided to leave my life last month, the previous wounds caused – which had been deep, and painful – kind of reopened. And I don’t even have a good reason for why it happened, and I don’t know that I ever will.

That bugs me. I like knowing why things happen. If I have a feeling about something, I want to know why. If something happens that seems interesting or weird, I want to know more about it. I’m inquisitive, and that can get me in trouble – I know that some of my tendency to try to get more answers contributed to things going wrong in the above friendship. I wanted clarity, and my friend wanted something else. More and more, I am convinced – by the voice in the back of my head, because it’s all I really have here – that that person is not who I thought they were, that I saw what I wanted to see and extrapolated a totally different person from that. And because of seeing what I wanted to see, I poured entirely too much of myself into our friendship, only to get badly hurt in the end.

I won’t say that walking away from relationships is wrong; I’ve done it in the past, and I know how upsetting it was for the other side. And I know that the reasons I gave at the time were probably enough for that  person, because I don’t know if any amount of information is enough when you feel like you’ve been rejected and abandoned by someone you thought was a friend. I just know that being on the receiving end is a miserable feeling, especially coming from a friendship that – at least on my end – showed me that I still have the capacity for feelings I thought had been burned out of me years ago. It seems that the heights of that relationship are matched only in the lows of where I find myself now, confused and hurt and unsure of what to do next. What if the next person I reach out to does the same? It took a lot for me to reach out in the way I did, and I don’t know if I want to reach out the same way again if the results will be so terrible.

I don’t think that the pain I am in was caused on purpose. I fervently hope not, because whatever our relationship, I don’t think my friend and I ended on terms that badly. But I’m not really sure what to do with it besides hope it doesn’t happen again in the future, and in the meantime, I find myself terribly trepidatious about the possibility of another relationship, because this kind of pain just doesn’t seem to want to fade. Or maybe it will, but only if I put myself again into a situation that will open me up to the possibility of the same sort of pain again. I can’t be sure. And that not knowing scares me.

Faith

I was going to write about faith here, because it’s been on my mind lately. But just recently, I got this link in my e-mail – fortuitously, only a few minutes before I started writing this – and thought it was something good to hare, both because it deals with mental illness and it touches on faith:

Along with this, I thought I’d quote from a blog post of mine from last year on faith, since I think it still pretty much applies; you can find the rest of my post here.

“I’m pretty sure I don’t fall under the wings of any particular denomination; I’m Christian, but that’s about as far as I can go. Instead, my faith is kind of a grab-bag of things; some deism, some Christianity, some other bits and pieces – I think at one point I was seriously referencing the “Godfellas” episode of Futurama. Essentially, it all boils down to this: I think that there is a god, but due to the immensity of his/its likely power, intelligence, and abilities, there’s no real ability for humanity to seriously understand God, because we just don’t have the perceptive abilities to encompass him. And once God ensured we had free will, and the ability for rational thought, he stepped back, letting us find our own way, and watching as we tried to understand. Eventually, though, God decided that our understanding was important to him, and so he sent a messenger, one very important to him, to act as a conduit for our understanding – that being Jesus. And while we have free will, and God doesn’t often step in to act directly – because that would contradict our free will – we might never know if he does, because, quoting from the aforementioned Futurama episode, “When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.”

For the most part, I think that my particular version of Christianity is pretty chilled out – we’re supposed to be good to the people around us. We’re supposed to give aid to others in need, especially if we have more than we can reasonably use – if I have 600 sandwiches, and you have none, it doesn’t cost me much to give you food, but it might mean the world to you. But we’re supposed to give not for praise or acknowledgement, but because we think it’s the right thing to do. The belief should be matched by works – some effort, large or small, to help our fellow man – because words need to be backed up by deeds for faith to be taken seriously. I don’t know that I feel the need to actively spread my faith – if people are helped by what I do, then that’s good enough. I don’t need to proselytize; if they want to know, they’ll ask. Christianity isn’t a secret, hidden religion anymore – it’s the biggest faith on the planet, even if it is broken up into dozens of denominations.  And my faith is my own; I don’t have, or feel the need to be identified as, anything other than a Christian. I don’t think  my faith has any bearing on the faith of others, either – my beliefs are mine, and given that I can’t possibly know that God is real for certain, who am I to say that my beliefs are right? All I can do is act like a good person, and believe what I believe, and go from there.”

My faith isn’t the most complex of things, but I don’t think it’s wrong just because it isn’t complex. I’m not sure it’s right, either, and I’m willing to talk about it and bring in new ideas, because faith isn’t certainty. Faith is belief, and while it may be strong belief – Collins English Dictionary defines faith as “strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp. without proof or evidence” – it means there has to be room for change in that belief. And so while I believe that God is watching, I don’t believe that He has a particular plan for me. And I know my thoughts on belief and faith can be caustic at times – my sense of humor where faith is concerned seems to keep getting me in trouble, and may have been at fault, at least partially, in the loss of at least one good friendship. But my thoughts and what I say about faith are mine; I don’t mean them to apply to anyone else’s. When I make a joke about God, that is part of my relationship with God, and not meant as a slight or an insult. My faith doesn’t need to have any bearing on yours, or anyone else’s. When I pray, if I pray for you, I’m saying that I care about you and I want to make sure God maybe can throw a little love your way; I’m not asking you to share in my faith or my belief. I find all the hate and fear and anger people have with other people about their faith – just the beliefs, not necessarily the acts that back them up – to be bewildering. I want to be able to talk about faith and belief with other people of faith and not worry that everything I say will be taken badly. 

I guess I’m not really sure what I mean here, and I don’t know how to be clearer without engaging in some sort of dialogue with someone, so I’ll end with a quote – though who it’s from is unknown (it’s been linked to Marcus Aurelius, former Roman emperor, but seems unlikely to be his work):

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

Oh, and May the 4th be with you.

Thrillin’ Heroics

It’s probably no shock to anyone who knows me that I like heroes. Big damn heroes, in fact. Larger than life, and I vastly prefer the true-blue, good-as-can-be type over the grim and gritty type. Don’t get me wrong; I can enjoy reading Punisher comics, and Dirty Harry can be a fun thing to watch. But overall, I prefer heroes that have more in common with Superman and Captain America than I do with Frank Castle.

This goes doubly so for my playing characters in games, either video games or tabletop RPGs. I like to play games where I am given a moral choice – and I will almost always take the heroic, Lawful Good, Upper Left Blue option, because that’s just how I feel most comfortable. I’ve tried to play games where I am the bad guy, or just a jerk; in the original Knights of the Old Republic, for example, you didn’t have to play a good-guy, Light Side Jedi – you could go full on Force Lightning, maniacal laughter Sith. But when I tried doing that… it just felt wrong. I felt like I had done something bad by choosing that path, even though I know it’s just a fictional game and it isn’t actually me choosing to do those things. But I can’t play Grand Theft Auto games for that reason – it makes me feel really uncomfortable to commit all those crimes, even on fictional people in a fictional city. Even in the Mass Effect series, where your choices are less good and evil and more good cop, bad cop, I overwhelmingly prefer to go the good cop route.

Maybe it’s just something about the things I had ingrained in me while I was growing up; maybe latching on to characters like Sturm Brightblade, Druss the Legend, Captain America, Superman, and other fictional character cited as paragons of virtue permanently altered the way I see things to make me feel bad about doing bad things even to fictional people. I don’t know, and I don’t know that it is really possible to find out. And it isn’t to say that I don’t like other characters – my favorite movie is, after all, The Crow (the original with Brandon Lee, not any of the sequels), though even he has a pretty strong moral center. I’m perfectly capable of playing, say, a bounty hunter living on the edge in a Star Wars game – my main character in the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO is a bounty hunter, in fact, though he’s as Light Side as I can make him. That makes sense, at least to me, because the Star Wars universe has a very strange kind of moral outlook, especially along the Jedi/Sith angle, which I have talked about before.

But generally, when given a chance in a fantasy RPG, I’ll pick something pretty strongly good. My general preference is the paladin class, which is sort of a holy warrior; it’s gone through a lot of variations over the years of D&D history, including a period with a strictly enforced moral code that often led to DMs intentionally luring players into situations where any choice they made was the wrong one (known as a Kobayashi Maru test for those of you Star Trek fans reading). It also tends to lead to some players choosing, by playing a character who should be a paragon of virtue, to be instead a character who follows the letter of the law, not the spirit, and generally makes the game unenjoyable for other players. I kind of hate both of those, because I see the paladin as a holy warrior, yes, with a very strong code of morals, often put in place by his or her fictional deity. But I also see the paladin as someone who is not there to force others to adhere to his code of conduct; he is not a recruiter, but someone who chose, or was chosen, for his path. He should be an example of the best his deities followers can be, even if this might get him in trouble – though hopefully not too often with the other members of the party.

See, I know I have a strong sense of what I consider good and evil. And on some points, there are objective cases where those are inflexible, barring edge cases brought up for purposes of Devil’s advocacy – murder, rape, slavery, those are things I feel pretty safe in labeling as evil across the board. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, helping the less fortunate, loving those around you, protecting those weaker than you, are all examples of things I feel relatively safe in calling good. But in between there is a big spectrum, and things have to be evaluated objectively a lot of the time. Thievery is bad, yes, but if I steal to feed my family when I have no other options but to starve – am I doing evil? I think a lot of what we see in morality is evaluating things and actions through our own moral compasses. What is good for me is not always good for you. While I feel uncomfortable doing bad things in video games, I have no problem watching other people play the same games and do bad things. While I want to have a society that is more on the side of good, I also realize that morality isn’t always a black and white, binary idea.

So my favorite heroes are the ones who won’t turn towards doing the morally grey or the generally evil when things get tough. Arguments about the needs of the many overriding the needs of the few always make me uncomfortable – in a recent video game, I had a companion in my group who ran a small mercenary company, all of whom I’d met before and thought were decent people. There was one mission where my companion – who was an emissary from a powerful civilization who would be a great help to me in my fight against evil – had to make a choice: aid his civilization and let his friends die, or aid his friends and alienate his people. He turned to me for help making the choice, and, feeling that at the time I needed his people’s help, I told him to let his friends die. And that really bothered me afterwards. Was the help I got from his civilization worth the price he and I both paid in allowing people we cared about to die? Would Captain America, or Superman, or Sturm – or Michael from the Dresden Files, or Paksenarrion from The Deed of Paksenarrion have made the same decision?

I don’t know, because none of them are real. But I do know that those are the people I will most often look to for direction on morality and heroism, because they are the ones whose strong sense of morality – and generally being good people – I value. I’m a Christian, yes, and I also value the ideals of Jesus and what he tried to do and teach in his lifetime. And I think that, in some ways, they are all following the same path morally. I can’t imagine Jesus looking at any of those characters – especially Michael, since he is Christian himself – and thinking they are bad examples to follow. So while Frank castle can be fun to watch, he’s never going to be someone I look to for guidance in any form. Well, unless I’m looking for a good machine gun.

Personality Quirks

When you’ve been in treatment for mental health, by necessity you spend a lot of time thinking about who you are, why you are that way, and what defines you. You do this because if you can’t at least start to figure out some of the answers to these questions, then treatment will either never quite work, or it will be a much harder road than it has to be. So a certain amount of looking inward is necessary, and sometimes this involves finding out unpleasant things about yourself. This isn’t fun, obviously; nobody likes finding out that they have bad qualities, even though we probably all suspect that we have them. But one of the best things about doing this is that when you find out the negative qualities about yourself, you can work to change them – or you can change your perspective and find out that, much like Obi-Wan told Luke his father was dead, these things are only negative from a certain point of view.

I have depression. Technically, it is major clinical depression, and I’ve had it for about 15 years. A couple of years back I would have said I suffer from it, but I’m pretty well managed on that front most of the time these days. It’s not going to go away, and it will likely always be lurking in the back of my mind; that negative, self-hating, self-destructive voice, or urge, or impulse will always be there in the back of my mind to some degree. And while it has been very painful to deal with – two suicide attempts, three hospitalizations, 6 months of intensive inpatient treatment, and more medications, ECT, and other attempts to treat it than I can really keep track of – it has also brought me to a place in my life where I want to use what I have learned in my own struggles to try and help other people who might be going through the same thing. I have a more negative, cynical outlook on things than a lot of people, but I’ve also learned that even someone like me – who used to be relentlessly negative – can become optimistic and hopeful about life, and find ways to deal with the difficulties I’ve been through that make me a stronger person.

For me, I have known I’ve been a nerd, or a geek, or whatever you want to call it, for a long time. My favorite books are fantasy books. I love Star Wars and Star Trek. I read all sorts of comic books, and I own every Marvel movie (well, the ones since Iron Man); I also have a Captain America costume. I play RPGs, and have for over 20 years now. I love video games. I keep fictional codes of conduct folded up in my wallet. I wear glasses. If I had a pocket protector, it couldn’t be more obvious. And a lot of people find, or have found, this to be a problem. But I’m comfortable in my geekiness. The things I enjoy are the things I have passion for. That’s not to say I only have passion for nerdy things – I am trying to get into social work, after all – but that I don’t feel the need to hide my interests. And being a geek has made my life better in a lot of ways. Because of my interest in video games, I’m relatively tech-savvy – well, for a liberal arts major, anyway. I can’t tell you why a computer works, but I’m pretty handy with one, and I was the one who helped get my parents onto Facebook (which may not have been the greatest idea, but I digress). Fantasy helped to inform my moral framework; I grew up reading about knights and chivalry and honor; my favorite character from my early fantasy reading was Sturm Brightblade, from the Dragonlance Chronicles, who tried to live up to the high standards of the knightly order he believed in. There are a lot of cool things I know, and have done, that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t a nerd.

I’m an introvert. This doesn’t mean I hide from people but that I tend to try to choose the people I spend my time around carefully. I don’t have a lot of interest in small talk; this can lead to some awkward pauses in conversation as I look for a way to get to a (for me) more interesting, generally more meaningful subject besides polite niceties, but it means that when I ask questions, I’m genuinely interested, and I want to know the answers. While I’m often silent during conversations among multiple people, when I contribute it’s because I feel like I have something important to say, and if I’m listening, it’s probably not because I’m just being polite – it’s because I want to hear what is being said. I want to know more about the people I get to know than just how their day is, or was. I become uncomfortable around larger groups, but this is largely because it makes it very difficult for me to try to connect on a meaningful level with lots of background noise.

I’m loyal, to an absurd degree. To paraphrase West Side Story (one of the few lines I know, since I’ve never seen it), when I’m your friend, I’m your friend all the way. If I consider someone my friend, there is very little I won’t do for them. I tend to have a pretty strong moral center, but for the right people, I am willing to toss that right out the window if I need to, in order to help a friend. With this loyalty tends to come a kind of awkward phase where I’m not sure if I’m going to let you in, and that can be weird; also, some people can find that degree of loyalty strange or discomforting. I’m working on trying to maintain some more casual relationships, because I can be pretty heavily impacted by things that go on with my close friends – witness my current situation – but if you’re on the short list, then if I can do something to help you, or if you want to know something about me, all you have to do is ask.

I’m struggling with my faith. I was an atheist – though most people weren’t really aware of it – for over a decade, and I really only started coming back to faith about a year ago. I don’t belong to a faith-based community, and I don’t attend a church; it’s not that I’m opposed to doing so, I just haven’t felt the urge or the need. But being new to faith again, I have a lot of niggling questions on my mind, and…well, I’m a nerd. I’ve also spent a lot of time in grad school, with critical thinking being drilled into me, and I don’t always know where the line is that others are comfortable with discussing faith. This means sometimes I can ask uncomfortable questions or make statements that are unintentionally insulting. Generally, when I talk about faith, I am talking about mine and mine alone; I don’t see a reason why my views on religion, faith, or spirituality should impact anyone else’s, but sometimes I wander into territory where my statements, thoughts, or questions are unwelcome or hurtful. I’m almost certainly not trying to do so – when I want to be insulting, there won’t be any doubt about it – but struggling with my own faith means I have to cover some pretty weird ground.

I am not the luckiest guy with relationships. I’m 35, as of writing this. I’m straight (just to make sure we’re on the same page here), I’ve never had a girlfriend, I’ve been on a grand total of one date, and yet somehow I have had my heart broken twice. I’m a little gun-shy, understandably. I can’t read signs from women very well, if at all, and while I have female friends, if someone is trying to send me subtle signals conveying interest, I am likely totally oblivious. This hasn’t had the greatest effect on my self-confidence, as you might imagine, but it’s also given me the time to look at what’s gone wrong and try to figure out what I really want in a relationship. Mostly, I think this just means that if (hopefully when) I ever do find myself in a relationship, it’s going to be kind of a weird start, because I’m very hesitant to ask someone out and get rejected – which, in a culture that tends to rely on the male asking the female out, is problematic. But once I find the right person, that won’t matter.

And – I think this will be the last one, but I might think of more to add later – I’m pretty liberal, and relatively solidly entrenched in that position. This doesn’t mean I think conservatives are idiots, by any means, though I am certainly not fond of the on-screen personalities of Fox News. It just means that I lean pretty heavily liberal on basically any political issue. And yes, this can lead to a lot of ‘us vs. them’ tribalism, because while the Democrats in the US, as a political party, might not be super liberal (I’d use the governments of Scandinavian countries as a benchmark here), they’re the closest we have. I’m not always thrilled with the people they put forward, but they’re still likely to get my vote. I’m aware that I hold some pretty strong opinions on these things – the constant attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’) bother me a lot, because with out it, I wouldn’t have medical insurance, for example, and while I’m not opposed to some other plan, the people who keep trying to repeal the one I have now don’t seem to have thought that far ahead yet. So at times I can get pretty stuck in my thoughts. But I am open to informed, well-reasoned discussion, and sometimes it can even change my mind, as long as everyone involved is willing to at least consider the positions of others. It’s a work in progress, and I will likely never get over my dislike of certain public, political personalities, but I know that we can’t expect any kind of reasoned compromise from our officials if we can’t manage it ourselves.

That’s not to say these things are all of my personality – just the stuff that has come to me over the last couple days that seemed worth putting out there. They can be negative, positive, or not even necessarily either, depending on how you look at it. To some of you these are no surprise, and I’m sure many of you have lists like this that would probably have at least some surprises – to me or to other people who are close to you. I hope this makes sense, and that maybe people will take a look inwards to try to find out more about themselves. But if not, and if you think that I am just rambling on nonsensically here (which is entirely possible, this one’s for you:

pancake bunny

Gratitude Challenge on Temporary Hiatus

I know I haven’t updated in the last few days – 5 or 6, really. But there’s been a lot of uncool stuff happening in my life lately – a friend moving away, even if it is for the best for her; another friend coming back into my life, only to suddenly turn around and walk right back out again; and a third friend feeling suicidal, and having to watch that and know how bad it is while also knowing there’s basically nothing I can do to help. I’m feeling angry, sad, afraid, hurt, and frustrated, all of which adds up to not really feeling up to finishing a challenge on gratitude right now – for the time being, I just can’t see out to gratitude, and while I know it will pass, or I hope it will, but it means I can’t finish off this round of the gratitude challenge yet. I’m not going to call it a failure, just a delay, and hopefully I can get back on track to finish or restart it relatively soon. Until then, I hope everyone else is alright.