Tag Archives: Current Events

The Problem With The Good Old Days

August 20, 2015

Good Old Days

Nostalgia is also a dangerous form of comparison. Think about how often we compare our lives to a memory that nostalgia has so completely edited that it never really existed.
Brené Brown

I have written and re-written an essay on “the good old days” a few dozen times over the years, but I can never bring myself to finish it because no one wants to hear a rant. I don’t want to hear a rant. Rants are for sad toddlers and sad uncles and sad Facebook feeds. Nine times out of ten, our deprecation is better left unsaid. There is a reason Mark Zuckerberg refuses to create a dislike button on Facebook. The world doesn’t need any more negativity.

Then all of a sudden we are defending Bill Cosby, chastising Harper Lee, and caring more about a dirty, old southern flag than actual human lives, so I’m going to say one quick thing tonight: There is no such thing as the good old days.

Humans did not behave any better or worse in 1810 or 1960 or after drunk Noah said, “Let’s start over, folks!” Every corner of every religious and historical text points to the fact that we are, and have always been, the worst.

Things we ignore to protect the good old days: literature, rape, racism, murder. We will literally ignore dozens of sexually abused women to protect our memories of a tv show personality. We also won’t read a book to protect our memories of a fictional character or take down a flag because hey, remember southern hospitality?

When our precious childhoods are at stake, we are willing to do almost anything.

The obvious problem with this is that if we are constantly putting our elders or history on a pedestal, we will only be disappointed. Humans have been being human for thousands of years. We are no better or worse than the very first man or woman who lied to get out of washing the loin cloths. There is no reason to be surprised when our youth pastor watches porn or when our grandpa turns out to be racist or when Joshua Duggar cheats on his wife. Bill Cosby was never our moral tour guide, Atticus Finch was never ours to have, and the confederate flag has never been anything more than a relic.

It’s okay to let go.

I know nostalgia is hard to avoid. I love nostalgia. Nostalgia is one of my love languages. It can also hold a lot of truth. We have so much to learn from those who have walked before us. Every generation has its wisdom; knowledge and understanding we’ve lost with the passage of time. The danger of nostalgia is that it can never really reflect the complete truth. This is why our childhood bedrooms will always look smaller and our memories of first grade colored by a single picture. We will never break the cycles of violence, oppression, or pain if we can’t admit our errors.

There is no such thing as the good old days. They were just days, some good and some bad. There is only the sweet smell of nostalgia and the hope that when we know better, we do better. Let’s keep trying.

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Let’s Make Room

January 19, 2015

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I’ve been seeing all these op-ed pieces lately on how it’s okay for boys to wear tutus. How no one is going to tell my son what he can and can’t wear. How girls can play with tractors so who cares if my son is breastfeeding his cabbage patch doll? EVERYBODY BE COOL.

Of course these articles are fine and good; I’m all for celebrating our three-year-old boys acting like drunk fairies. But there’s also a part of me who thinks: It’s 2015. Why are we still talking about this?

Here’s why.

Last month in Folsom, California, 12-year-old Ronin Shimizu took his own life after being relentlessly bullied by his classmates for joining the cheerleading team. Not only did they shout gay slurs and physically assault him, he was called “disgusting” and told he was “going straight to hell.”

After years of this anti-gay assault, Ronin’s parents found their son dead in their home.

The police immediately ruled it suicide. No note was found.

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It is so easy to live inside my safe bubble with my young, innocent babies and mugs of hot tea and think this world is safe. That we’ve come far enough. That we’ve made room for everyone.

Then when I hear stories of children being tormented over the idea that they might be gay, I am shocked and enraged. How could this happen? Why would anyone say such hateful things? What world is this?

There is still so much work to be done.

We need to make room. Room for our little boys with bright orange tutus and little girls with overalls and dump trucks. Room for change, safe places, and open arms. Room for the idea that we are not in control of our children’s sexuality any more than we’re in control of our own.

Recently a pair of identical twin teenage boys came out to their dad in a taped conversation that went viral on YouTube. What struck me the most about their story was not so much their father’s response, but the proof that who we are as sexual beings is in our DNA. That these identical pairs of genes led to the same sexuality. That who you love is, of course, not a choice.

Wearing tutus does not make you gay. Joining the cheerleading squad does not make you gay. Dressing up like a fairy or taking ballet or wearing bright pink does not make you gay. Being gay makes you gay. A difference in genetics, just like the color of your skin.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A day we have set aside to celebrate a man who made room for a lot of people. Last month a 12-year-old boy took his life because there was no room for him. We remember his life today. We weep for his mother and all the other mothers who have lost their sons and daughters to hopelessness.

Let’s make room.

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Ronin

Ronin Shimizu
2002-2014

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – MLK

Remembering Newtown

December 14, 2014

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Last week I lost my three-year-old son in the library for 60 seconds. If you are a parent, you know that when your child is lost, seconds are minutes and minutes are hours. A slow motion nightmare.

When I found him, his face was covered with tears, a panic on his face I’d never seen. “There’s your mom!” exclaimed the librarian, shaming me.

In my arms, his hysteria only heightened. I thought I lost you. I thought I lost you. I couldn’t find you anywhere! he repeated over and over again, tears streaming down his face.

“You can never lose me,” I lied. “I am always with you, I will never leave you. Nothing bad will ever happen to you.”

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Two years ago today, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and 6 adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School while the rest of us Christmas shopped and fought with our mothers. It knocked us over as a nation, as parents, as people who try to convince ourselves that schools are safe and people are mostly kind.

To be perfectly blunt, the sickness of it was almost too much to bear. Some of us turned off our TVs, changed the subject, kept Christmas shopping. Others of us were paralyzed with fear and grief. We couldn’t turn off the news or keep from repeating their names.

We wept for days.

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This past fall, my friend Suzie passed a mother putting her young son on the schoolbus for the first time. His frame was small, his backpack too big for his body. She watched as the mother said goodbye, holding back her tears.

She said, “It was one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen.”

Today we remember Charlotte and Daniel. Rachel and Olivia. We remember Josephine, Ana, Dylan, and Dawn. Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, and Jesse. James, Grace, Anne, and Emilie. We remember Jack and Noah. Caroline and Jessica. Avielle, Lauren, Mary, and Victoria. We remember Benjamin. We remember Allison.

We remember their lives, whisper their names.

In sorrow, may we find peace. In grief, some small joys.

We hold their families in the light today.

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When It Makes Everyone Else Look Really, Really Bad.

March 26, 2014

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It’s the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.

-Mother Theresa

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I wasn’t going to write about it. I was going to let it go, push it out of my mind, let all the faith bloggers go to town and hash it out and say the same things over and over again.

But then I remembered the children.

Yesterday World Vision, one the the largest relief organizations in the world, announced they were changing their policy to allow the employment of LGBT persons. “It’s easy to read a lot more into this decision than is really there,” said President Richard Stearns in an interview. “This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. We have decided we are not going to get into that debate. Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support. This is simply a decision about whether or not you are eligible for employment at World Vision U.S. based on this single issue, and nothing more.”

The response was not surprising. Progressive Christians high-fived and conservative ones did not. Some conservative Christians even pulled their membership. Wait, let’s make that thousands of conservative Christians pulled their memberships. Over 2,000 children lost their sponsorships in protest to World Vision’s policy of employing people in same-sex marriages.

It was all very dramatic. Progressives scrambled to raise funds for the lost memberships, but it wasn’t enough and 48 hours later World Vision reversed its position on their hiring policy.

“Nevermind guys, we crunched the numbers and don’t support gay people after all!”

It was a PR move from hell, but let’s focus on the real problem here: This is why young people don’t go to church. This is why people are annoyed when your Instagram profile has a Bible verse or your car has a Jesus fish. When folks literally take food out of the mouths of children because an organization may or may not hire a gay person, it makes the rest of us look really, really bad.

The Christian community is never going to reach consensus on gay marriage. That’s fine. This is not about gay marriage. This is about whether or not a child gets breakfast.

Three possible ways to respond to today’s news:

1) Write a reactionary, spite-filled blog post/Facebook status/tweet in support or opposition of gay marriage.
Pros: Retweets/Likes stroke our delicate egos.
Cons: Kind of annoying.

2) Do nothing.
Pros: Easy.
Cons: Predictable.

3) Sponsor a child. Compassion International, World Vision, and Heifer International all strive to improve the quality of life for children across the world.
Pros: Help someone other than self.
Cons: None.

And that is all I have to say about that.

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What Is A Millennial?

July 10, 2013

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I’m currently writing a book about millennials for a publisher who thinks I know things (thanks guys).

It’s strange and fun but also sometimes worrisome to speak on behalf of all of us.

We are an eclectic bunch; raised on various spectrums of Nickelodeon and Capri Suns and consistently fed two conflicting messages: You Are The Future and You Kind Of Suck.

My friend Fran sent me this article this morning by Matt Bors which made me laugh because of course. Of course we are no different than our forefathers and foresisters who were shaking it up and being annoying and not listening to their parents.

Of course there are bad eggs, but there are also good eggs who care about things and don’t want us all to die from global warming and religious constipation.

We may be self absorbed, but we’re also smart–which should count for something.

I’m curious what you think, millennials and non millennials alike. I want to know if you’ll admit this generation is lazy (we are) but also acknowledge that we are changing the world. I want to know if you think we are capable of more than creating Instragrams with trendy fonts and writing blog posts about chick flicks.

I want to know who (or what) you think we are. What defines this generation? Are we doing anything right?

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