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The Fairy Godmother Of Us All: Saint Susie

Saint Susie. For as long as I’ve known her (44 years), she has run a field hospital for the wounded in life: the poor, hungry, needy, homeless, unemployed, unemployable, lonely, those that suffer from just plain bad luck. And those that are wild, reckless or dangerous because of loss of hope. Her flock is all-embracing. She is color blind when it comes to race or religion. There is standing room only for those that admire her. If she knew this, she wouldn’t care. Her divine talent in life is not to impress others but rather to take care of them. The saint of the down and out. And the successful up and in who may require little but something. Whatever level their needs are, the helper protector is there. A place to live. Some groceries. Encouragement. Money. Emotional support. Guidance. Love. Transportation. Income. A meal. A respite. Respect. There are no boundaries. The required two miracles for sainthood don’t apply here. She IS the miracle. She has living love for everyone she encounters. This kind and gentle soul expects nothing in return. Ever. She knows the language of compassion. Tender with the young, compassionate with the elderly and tolerant of the weak. Everyone is her brother or her sister. Do you think I’ve said enough? Well, I’m not done.

Our difficulties form our character. She is our mentor. We are her protege. This fairy godmother leaves a deep footprint with her contagious spirit of love. This woman works her mysteriously enchanting magic quietly and with humility (not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less often). Like most fairy godmothers, this one has magical powers that bring good fortune to the heroes and heroines in the fairy tale of life. That includes all of us. No matter what. Her uncanny knack to know when you need her is like pixie dust. Her spell makes us invincible to self-loathing. And helps us find what is really important, not always what we want, but what we need in the labyrinth of life. A rainbow in disguise. Captivating. Inspiring. The archetype of kindness.

You won’t see her on the society pages for charity work. She’s the boots on the ground. No glory. No attention. Just good work day in and day out. Her plate is extremely full without all of this goodwill. But she will drop everything to go slay dragons for you.

Why do I share this with you? Heroines (and heroes) remind us of what’s right and what’s wrong. And show us the qualities we need to be united instead of divided. They inspire us and give us hope. Heroines turn other people into heroines.

This is not a fantasy. She does exist. A living saint. A fairy godmother. The heroine of my life’s fairytale. Go find yours.

 

Phone Moan Groan

Hope everyone had a Merry Stressmas! But it’s not over yet.  Returns to be made. Unless you and yours think like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more.” We can only hope.

Disaster Struck

On the third day before Christmas, at the airport bound for Florida, disaster struck. I forgot my phone. Panic set in. Instant anxiety. How does one function in life without this device? What ifs cluttered my brain. Devastating. No lifeline to the world, to my friends and most importantly, to information. I can’t live without Google. Or can I?

Dopamine In Disguise

Research indicates that we look at our phone every six and one-half minutes. That’s 221.5 times per twenty-four hours. What would you do with all that spare time? Read a book? Write a book? Build a house? Why do we do it? Social media and text messages are dopamine in disguise. Seriously. The same thing that is produced by alcohol, food, drugs, sex, liquor and who knows what else for who else. And can be just as addictive. Don’t you get a little high, instant gratification, or a tiny boost in self-esteem with each text or FB post? Come on…dig deeper…admit it. I’m enslaved to my five Facebook friends. Cessation would cause severe trauma.

When’s the last time you had an actual voice phone call versus the short text with bad grammar and all those fun, but silly emoticons? Do we even know how to interact anymore in real life, face to face, with a real person? Are we dehumanized? Do we actually ever have a good time or, instead of that, do we just Twitter, Instagram or FB it?

It’s not hard for me to ignore some of those email or text pings. They are so distracting. But I find that too many people get frantic, pushy, worried, neurotic, demanding or shaming if you don’t immediately respond.

Revelations

Not having a phone for a week brought many revelations. I became more aware of my surroundings. The world was quieter. It was easier to contemplate, concentrate, daydream and reflect on the past year. I had more face to face conversations with depth and meaning. Patience came easier. “Oh, you don’t have your phone.” played on an endless loop. Such dependency. Or addiction.

Obnoxious Customer On PhoneThe rudeness that happens with cell phones hit me in the face nonstop. We’ve all been there. The phone on the table at dinner or meetings. Who or what is more important here? Stopping a conversation in mid-stream to answer the phone, with no apology or excusing oneself. You are a captive audience. And wonder if they comprehended anything you said. How many times will you have to repeat it? Getting in people’s way, if not bumping into them, because you’re like a zombie with eyes glued to that screen. You, yourself, could get hit by a car with this distracted walking. Or messing up while driving because that text or post is more important than your life or that of another. Shame on us. Even checking out at a store while on the phone is rude and disrespectful. That clerk deserves your attention. Listening to a nasty fight between a couple on speaker phone. Is nothing private anymore?

Princess Protection

old princess telephone, isolated on whiteMaybe we should go back to the days of the princess phone. My elderly dad had a touch tone one in his car between the seats. When I asked him why he explained that it was for security. He would pretend to call the police if need be. Dear old dad never could comprehend that his reasoning was erroneous. He felt safe. That’s what mattered.

Consider taking a time-out. Leave your phone at home even if it’s just while you’re out to dinner with friends. Make them feel important. Get rid of the temptation. Enjoy the world! Enjoy life!

 

 

No Left Turn, No Left Turn, No Left Turn!

You know what really grinds my beans (for you car guys, it would be what really grinds my gears)?

Red-light runners. I believe Phoenix is still the red-light running capital of the country. I see it every day! And I tell people to never be the first or the last through the intersection. Twice, I have been directly behind a car that got hit by a red-light runner. From here on out, let’s refer to them as just runners…of the worst kind. With the last incident, both drivers were alright, probably due to side air bags. As witnesses, we were at the accident scene for a half hour. Guess what? During that time period, there were three more runners! Come on. Police cars with whirling lights, cars where they shouldn’t be, people milling about. And you still couldn’t pay attention and stop? Unbelievable.

Were you too busy texting? Too engrossed in your phone conversation? Checking e-mails? Was getting that fancy pansy latte coffee sooner more important? Quit being so self-centered. You could destroy or end the life of someone and their loved ones. Do you really want to live with that?

Driver lost control of vehicle well texting on cell phone Occupants in critical condition

Driver lost control of vehicle well texting on cell phone Occupants in critical condition

Distracted driving puts us all at great risk. And let’s talk about the aggravation of it. Drivers who remain stopped, when the light has been green for quite some time because they’re not done with a text. I’m terrified that someone will get rear-ended. One time, I saw this guy going the opposite direction on a four-lane street and then he just stopped right there to text. I see a stampeding herd of cars coming his way so start hammering on my horn to get his attention. I did, in the nick of time. Unbelievable.

woman driving on cell phone not paying attention and about to hit a man on a bicycle.

woman driving on cell phone not paying attention and about to hit a man on a bicycle.

What really prompted me to write on this particular topic was what happened today. I’m sitting at a red light on a road with three lanes going each way. I’m first in line in the very right lane. The light is still very much red when a car from the lane next to me, without slowing or stopping, proceeds to turn right, right in front of me. In this case, too many rights make a wrong. I was flabbergasted! Such an anomaly. And why? Unbelievable.

During traffic school (yours truly was in a left turn accident), the instructor informed the class that 70% of accidents happen within 200 feet of an intersection. Most of these crashes involve left turns. His words of advice: no left turn, no left turn, no left turn. Do whatever it takes to avoid this. Further advice: drive the freeways instead of city streets when you can. Much, much safer. He will go five miles out of his way to do this. He has investigated way too many fatal accidents.

To my surprise, the deadliest roads are rural. Is it the deer, moose or elk? No. It’s us. We tend to drive faster on rural roads. The lanes are much narrower leaving less room to recover from a driving error. We get aggravated, if not belligerent, with slow-moving cars and attempt to pass when we shouldn’t.  And of course, we’re texting & talking. With negligence, cars become weapons.

For forty years,  I never had an accident. And then bam! Two left-turn accidents within two years. Right turns are my new best friends.

Let’s bring back civility and respect in this country, starting on the roads. Pay attention. Be kind. Be respectful. Make it believable.

Close-up Of A Man Holding Cellphone With Message Notification While Driving Car

Close-up Of A Man Holding Cellphone With Message Notification While Driving Car

 

Religicide

Suicide. Homicide. Genocide. Religicide.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Catholics vs. Protestants in Northern Ireland, 9/11, Islamic State, Ku Klux Klan (they targeted Jews, Catholics, African Americans and other social or ethnic minorities), Crusades (Muslims vs, Christians), Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970, Muslims vs. Christians), Bosnia in the early 1990’s: Croatians vs. Serbians vs. Muslims, Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990 Sunnis vs. Shiites), French Wars of Religion (1562-1598, Protestant Hugenots vs. French Catholics)), German Peasants War (1524-1525, tax war, Dutch churches vs. French churches)…it’s never-ending. Many different religions. Many different wars. They kill in the name of their God. Religion is powerful. Interpretation of religion by fanatic followers is deadly. In extremely heinous acts.

Holy War LetterpressReligion is more significant today due to globalization (cultural and economic)which is challenging and changing everything. Upsetting the apple cart worldwide. Social, economic and political systems are disrupted, ignored or undermined. Exposure to the broader world causes many to now see what they never had and never will. Income inequality is exacerbated. How their government has failed them is brought to light. Countries that liberalize trade imports often create poverty. The realization that they have no future is devastating. And infuriating. An easy call to violence.

Cultural globalization along with the spread of secularism has caused a resurgence in religious beliefs which, of course, includes strict fundamentalist/orthodox views. Views that people are prepared to die for. Religion, compared to other ideologies, is more divisive. The more orthodox, the more divisive. People get angry if the orthodoxy is not followed strictly. On the world stage, faith means something completely different in the East vs. the West. In the East, it is more political and a way of life. The West sets it aside from civil society. It is personal. Although it looks like things are a changing.

This is just a short, light post to get you thinking. Why? How did all these horrible, evil acts occur? And why do they continue? The root of the problem: religion. So far, as Richard Dawkins (Britain’s best-known atheist) said, “no atheist has gone into a crowded, public place, blown themselves up while shouting no god is great.”

 

 

Stop Or I’ll Shoot

Ok, I’ve had enough. Police bashing. Police ambushes. They are getting a bum rap. Stop or I’ll shoot. What is it with people who don’t obey this command? My parents and your parents taught us to obey all police commands, no matter what. And we do. Where is any sense of accountability here? Where suspects cause their own demise by not respecting officers. Why is this not discussed in the media? Would their ratings suffer? Brutal spectator events seem to be in the crosshairs of their pursuit of high ratings.

PROTOCOL

Let’s start with police officer protocol when faced with an armed suspect (or one that indicates he’s armed):

  • The officer takes cover and creates a barrier (such as a building or the police cruiser) between themselves and the perpetrator.
  • He  draws his weapon and commands the suspect to drop the weapon, get on the ground.
  • If the suspect complies, one officer searches for more weapons while the other officer keeps the gun on the suspect. If a concealed weapon is found, they cuff him.
  • If the suspect doesn’t follow the command and makes a threatening movement, the officer has a split-second to decide whether to fire.

TOY GUNSbigstock--123305915

Officers cannot always tell if the gun is fake. Toy guns are supposed to have orange tips on them. Children often take them off. Criminals may put them on real guns to cause the officer to hesitate with using lethal force. So, of course, it’s common sense to not point a real OR fake weapon at an officer. Every child should have this ingrained in their brain. No excuses. If you do point a weapon, there is going to be a gun fight. That’s the officer’s response training kicking in.

OFFICER RIGHTS

Officers have to protect themselves. They have the right to go home at night. They live in a hostile world. Everyone and every encounter is a potential threat. To control the scene, the officer has to maintain the upper hand. We, the public, don’t always realize this.They have to always be on guard. If they’re not, they could be beaten, disarmed and killed. “Complacency kills” is a police slogan. So is “risks of  a mistake are far less than risks of hesitation.” “Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.” “Action trumps reaction.”

NYPD transit bureau K-9 police officer and Belgian Shepherd K-9PERCEPTION OF DANGER

Danger can be tricky to gauge. One officer may perceive a situation as dangerous whereas another officer will not. The fear factor  also plays into the situation. It can be different for every officer. Rocks can kill you. Cars can be weapons. Sticks can be lethal. The suspect may try to grab the officer’s gun. Or assault him. Both are acting in the heat of the moment. Many say that an officer’s dialog with the perpetrator throughout the situation IS the most important part of police work. Make them feel heard. De-escalate first. Crisis-intervention. Critical thinking. Non-violent tactics. Communication. If the situation allows, all of these are tried first before pepper spray, a baton, a Taser or a gun is used. This is part of their training.

FREE-FOR-ALL

I’m not going to get into the whole race free-for-all. I don’t deny that there are isolated incidences of police malpractice. There are 18,000 state and local police agencies in our country. Less than 3% of these reported fatal shootings by officers. There are  163 million interactions between police and civilians every year. We need the police to maintain a civilized society. We sure loved the police on September 12th. In the fifty largest U.S. cities, murder rates have spiked by 17% in the last year and a half because police are reluctant to police neighborhoods with a high concentration of criminal violence. Disproportionately, they will be confronted with armed and resisting suspects. This raises the officer’s own risk of using lethal force. It’s all blown way out of proportion. The statistics verify that. But nobody wants to talk about those or accountability. Are there more police shootings or just more coverage with videos, social media, and mainstream media? If we keep this distortion up, our society will be the biggest victim of all. Anti-police rhetoric has deadly consequences.

The police deserve respect from all of us. It just might save our lives!