Monthly Archives: March 2012

Golden Rule

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Lately I’ve been reminiscing on the things we tell our kids – or I guess more specifically the things I tell my children. We attempt to impart wisdom, humor and grace into their lives and hope and pray that they will hold onto that; that someday when they are out making all of their own decisions that little kernels of parent-isms will creep back into their brains to help them. We hope that eventually it will make sense and they will see that we weren’t so stupid after all.

Today – and if I’m honest for quite some time now – this rule….this Golden one…is one I think that people in general throw out in conversation or when things are tough but don’t really think about. Treat others as you want to be treated. Seems simple enough. I’ve heard this as long as I can remember and I oftentimes use it in conversations with my kids about other children at their schools.

But here’s the thing…..

I believe we (humans in general) tend to mash up the Golden Rule with the eye for an eye thing. We tend to say things like, “well, he cut me off in traffic. I’m gonna speed up and block him in. We’ll see how fast he moves then”. Or, “she called me a _____ (insert jab of choice). But that’s fine because I told my friends just what a real ______ (again insert your choice) she is”. He took my ball so I’ll break his bat. She hurt my feelings so I’ll embarrass her in front of my friends. See how this works?

We seem to be a society of retribution. This is not what the Golden Rule says. It very clearly states “treat others as you want to be treated”. There is no caveat that says treat them the way they treat you. This isn’t about what they’ve done or not done to or for you. This is about what, in a perfect world, you would prefer them do. If you wouldn’t like it if someone started a rumor about you, then don’t start rumors about anyone else. If it would upset you if someone cut you off in traffic then don’t cut anyone else off. I know this is easier said than done, but think about it. Think of all the ills in the world that would be solved if we did this. No more inequality, no more injustices…..

I know I’m a dreamer – but I’m giving it my best effort to employ this metallic rule every single day. It’s not easy and there are certainly times that I fail, but I’m not giving up. I guess my hope is that my kids will see me trying and will listen to me repeating it and that eventually, someday they will really get it and begin to live it.It will be their world in which to make a difference. It would be really great if the difference started now.

I hope you get it too.

Inconceivable

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CAN YOU EVEN BEGIN TO IMAGINE THE REALITY OF THIS???

Have you ever been pregnant? Have you ever given birth? For those of you who have you may connect to my sensibilities a little closer. But, for those of you who haven’t – male OR female – just for a moment try to imagine:

You have been carrying a child inside of you for roughly 9 months – give or take some days. You’ve changed your eating habits in an effort to be healthy for this child. You’ve felt this child kick and move, you’ve heard their heartbeat, you’ve seen their image…..

Now, let’s imagine that you’ve done something naughty; something that lands you in prison. Maybe you wrote a boatload of bad checks, maybe you shoplifted for the 3rd time, maybe you drove the getaway car when your boyfriend held up a bank, maybe you killed your abusive husband…. Do you deserve to serve time? Yes, of course. We all must be held accountable for our actions. Do I think some acts are more justified than others…yes I do…but that’s for another post.

So…you’re very pregnant and incarcerated. You give up some personal liberties just by virtue of being naughty. That’s normal and expected.

BUT – Do you give up the right to experience a humane childbirth? I think not.

Many studies have been conducted on the safety of the mother and baby during the birthing process. It should come as no great surprise that a woman’s body will naturally move into positions that are conducive to successful birthing with minimalĀ  difficulties. (I say this a bit tongue-in-cheek because birthing is difficult by definition). In addition to the aforementioned studies, many studies have been done on the effect of mother/baby bonding or lack thereof initially following childbirth. It is crucial. Not only for the mother but for the baby as well. Feel free to look it up if you don’t believe me. It’s of utmost importance.

Shackling a woman to the birthing bed/table via ankle and/or wrist restraints is cruel and inhumane. Your range of motion is relinquished, restricting the ability of your body to adjust to birthing in a natural way. Your arms are restrained keeping you from creating leverage from which to push. You are unable to hold and swaddle your baby immediately following birth. All of the things doctors and psychologists and child behavior experts and decent human beings in general realize are absolutely necessary are stripped from incarcerated women.

The main argument seems to be that these women are a flight risk. REALLY?? For those of you who have given birth – can you imagine even harboring the thought that you would get up and flee while in the midst of pushing? Not to mention the fact that the birthing rooms are guarded by armed guards. But seriously – you can barely stand (if that is your preferred method of pushing), much less walk or possibly run. It would be impossible. The idea is preposterous. For those of you who are trying to imagine this scenario – you’ve seen movies – do you think it’s a reasonable concern?

I do not take offense at pregnant women being incarcerated. Sometimes we’re naughty. When we are, we get in trouble and we have to face the consequences. But, being naughty does not mean we should no longer be treated humanely. She’s not going anywhere. This practice is archaic and dangerous. Stop it.

Come on humanity….be humane.

Priceless

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What’s your most treasured possession?

The people in your life aren’t an option for this one. You can’t say your spouse or your children or your great aunt Sally. I’m talking an actual tangible item.

I’ll go first.

Mine is a set of two little ceramic Christmas mice. A boy mouse and a girl mouse with little red scarves around their necks. They have little pink noses and pink in their ears. Kinda strange huh….

They were my grandma’s. When I was little she would go all out decorating for the holidays. My grandparents had a big house with a huge wooden staircase – there was even a hidden staircase off the kitchen in the back – presumably the servant’s staircase originally. Anyway, it was a big awesome wonderful house with lots of rooms, super high ceilings and my favorite feature: a full wrap-around porch. I stayed with my grandparents a lot. I grew up in that house. But back to the mice…..

Every November I would get so excited when the boxes of holiday decorations would come out. I’m honestly not sure if they came up from the basement or down from the attic, but it really doesn’t matter – in my mind they just seemed to suddenly appear. And I knew what those boxes meant; they meant pine garland, wreaths on the doors, big bright lights on a tall full tree, stockings, candy canes, beautifully wrapped gifts, the smell of fresh baked cookies….and the mice. They had a place on the old electric organ every year without fail. And they were always the last piece of holiday decoration to be packed away when the new year rolled around. Those little mice were at every single holiday party and Christmas morning that we shared in that house.

My grandparents are both gone now. But I have the mice. I’ve only changed one little thing about them. They are no longer holiday decorations. They have a home in our kitchen year round. They sport their little red scarves not only in winter but all through the summer months too. I had a small meltdown once when my kids were playing something that I’m guessing I had asked them to take outside but before they obliged an errant toss ended up breaking my little boy mouse. The emotional reaction that I had was dramatic – and admittedly maybe a little over the top – but it was then that I realized the importance of those two little mice. We lovingly glued him back together and occasionally we add a little glue even now just to make sure all is well.

Those mice are more than just decorations. They are warm hugs that only my grandma could give, they are snuggling in the rocking chair with my grandpa watching boxing matches while he dipped his shoulders to avoid the punches. They are the smell of pine and cookies and my grandma’s perfume. They are the days when carolers came to your door and you weren’t afraid to open up to strangers. They are love, acceptance, loyalty, pride…..and memories.

I sure do love those mice.

Take a few minutes. It may be a tougher question than you first thought. But tell me about your treasured possession….I want to know.