Posted in C-Haze, Children, Memories, Nostalgia, Religion

Tribute to My Dad

I originally wrote this in honor of my dad, back in 2008. Today, I’m reposting. Enjoy!

It’s Father’s Day, so of course I have to talk about my daddy.

How the heck can I describe him and where in the world should I start?

My father is one of my only true heroes. He is amazing, and I’m not just saying that cuz he’s my dad.

He’s a great man for putting up with all my crap over the years… and he’s a great man for never giving up on me, for always believing in my greatness- even when that was the last thing I could see in myself.

My dad is the guy when I’m at my worst, suffering the consequences of all the riduculous decisions I’ve made, who can still look me in the eye and tell me he’s proud of me.

He means it too.

Growing up, my father pushed me to excel no matter what… he was tough. If I got a B on a test in school, a typical reaction from him would be, “That’s not bad… but why wasn’t it an A?” He taught me that regardless of the situation, no matter the circumstances, if I did not give it my all, it simply wasn’t good enough.

If I wanted to watch TV, it was my father that would restrict various shows, saying, “There is no socially redeeming value in that…”

I would get so mad… but it’s a phrase I use to this day, when restricting my own kids’ access to the television.

He led by example, and I watched my father work hard at everything he’s ever done- be it as the VP of Finance for a healthcare company, or as a student in Seminary, or as the passionate leader of a congregation of hundreds, and most importantly, as my father.

He’s the one who took me horseback riding every Saturday morning growing up. He’s the one, when I was terrified to try my first jump on that stupid horse Rascal, who hopped on an even crazier horse, and took an even bigger jump- just to show me it was ok.

My father is the one who taught me to love thunderstorms… when a big one would come at night, he’d open the blinds in my room, and say, “Look! It’s a light-light-light show!”… another trick I have used with my own daughters.

He’s the one who read me bedtime stories every night, and still to this day buys me a book every year for Christmas. He taught me to love reading and learning, and all these years later, I still do.

When I couldn’t sleep at night, my dad was the one who would come in my room and make up silly songs to sing to me. I had a stuffed pink poodle that when wound up would play Brahms Lullabye… I think I was almost 20 years old before I realized that the lyrics to that song are NOT, “Lullabye, eat a pie, so your dreams will come true…”

When I was in piano competitions, and the judges would say something to the effect of, “What a beautiful job she did playing that Mozart… but her left pinky looked a little weak”, my dad was the one who nearly strangled them for saying such a thing about his baby girl.

When I got older, and it was time to start looking at colleges, my dad was the one who went through the entire process with me. He spent countless weekends on the road with me, visiting schools all over the place, taking tours of campuses both large and small, pouring over countless pamphlets and welcome packets.

When I had narrowed down the list, and decided which music schools I was going to audition for admittance to, he was the one who went with me. He was the one who- often literally- wiped the sweat from my brow when it was time to face the music board at Oberlin, and Heidelberg… he was the one who celebrated with me when I was accepted at various schools… and he was the one who wanted to have the entire music departments fired at the ones I didn’t get into.

He was the one holding my hand when the verdict- “guilty”- came in during my rape trial.

He took me to see “Hello Dolly” with the original Carol Channing as Dolly… and he took me to see “Phantom of the Opera”… I am, to this day, a musical nut.

I inherited my love of steak from my dad… and I inherited my strong sense of justice, and fighting for those less fortunate from him. My dad is the strongest man I know, but he is a man of quiet strength. He gets his points across lovingly and compassionately… often with a touch of humor, but I have never known him to strongarm or bully a single human being.

My Dad has the voice of God… a deep, booming voice… he commands attention, and makes people want to hear what he has to say.

To me, Daddy, you are the greatest and I love you dearly.

 

Posted in Gay Marriage, Gay Rights, God, Hate, KKK, Politics, Racism, Religion

Gay Rights, Equality and Black People

Obama supports gay rights- specifically gay marriage- and lots of African Americans are not happy about it.

When people imagine those most staunchly against gay rights, they tend to think first of Catholics and Evangelical Christians; white people on the far right. Yet for years, black people have played a huge role in the suppression of gay rights, defending the belief that gay people do not deserve the same rights that blacks have fought to enjoy.

The justification used to support these views is the same as that used by the KKK and other racists throughout the history of this nation, and lies squarely in scripture. When it comes to hatred and the denial of rights, the Old Testament has always provided direction, in the name of the Almighty God, to go forth and hate, murder, torture and enslave. In any other conversation about Christianity, we will point to the New Testament, to Jesus Christ as our leader, we will claim to love all people, and we will state unequivocally that we don’t judge others, lest we be judged.

Oh, but when it comes to gay people, the gloves come off. We look to the same book that also encourages us to sell our daughters into slavery, that says the consumption of shell fish is an abomination, and tells us not to approach the alter of the Lord if our eyesight is not perfect- and we use that book of Leviticus as justification to advocate the denial of equal rights for others.

When radical Muslims bastardize the Koran, twisting its words into a commandment to conduct honor killings and suicide bombings, we call them extremists. When Hitler quoted the Bible in his effort to exterminate the jews, we said he was nuts. When the KKK twisted the same book to hang black people from trees and drag them behind trucks, we were sick with fear.

Those passages were used to justify our ancestors’ mass enslavement, rape, torture and murder. Yet just a few short generations later, we- the direct descendants of slaves- use the same words from the same book to deny rights to others- rights that were fought and died for on our behalf.

Just who do we think we are?

Do we monopolize and define struggle and strife in America?

Who decided that black people get to determine who does and does not qualify to live under the umbrella of equality? Certainly not those who came before us.

Some people point to that which our ancestors went through, believing that because homosexuals have not been murdered by the millions as we once were, they do not have the right to draw comparisons between our struggle and theirs.

There is no similarity.

Right?

Wrong.

The similarity lies in the motivations behind those that actively support the discrimination of others. The similarity has a name, and it is Bigotry.

Bigotry motivated the KKK.

Bigotry motivated Hitler.

Bigotry motivates the anti-gay movement.

As a supporter of gay marriage, I fully expect that those who disagree will continue to disagree; however, one’s personal opinion of another should not have the power to eliminate the rights of an entire group of people. As black Americans, we have the responsibility- put on us by the blood of our ancestors, given so that we may have a brighter future- to fight to ensure all citizens of this country enjoy equality.

The Constitution makes no distinction, it does not grant rights to those we agree with, and deny rights to those we don’t. As black people and as Americans, we have the responsibility to fight to ensure that no one else is ever again discriminated against, as we have been.

My views are not popular, but I know this:

I refuse to applaud one group’s struggles at the expense of another’s.

If there is a God who resembles the entity described by traditional Christianity, I will stand tall when the time comes for us to meet, knowing I loved all people equally.

Posted in Bible, C-Haze, Religion

God, Monkeys, and Swinging from Treetops

Some people are pondering the possibility that the apocalypse is near, though probably not for the reasons you may think.

No, this has nothing to do with catastrophic weather disasters, nor does it have anything to do with the rumblings of end times from the mouths of Teavangelicals.

Rather, this Horseman is much more simple.

Friends, I went to church… and I liked it.

I’ll pause a moment while you catch your breath.

Ready?

Ok. I’ll continue now.

For months, I’ve been trying to find whatever that something is that’s been missing in my life. I’m happily married, I have beautiful well-adjusted children, I’ve completed my education, I’m financially stable, I’m in good health…

… So what was it? What was this little spot- nothing more than an itch, really- that needed scratching in the center of my soul?

I’ve long considered myself a spiritual person. In fact, I’ve long considered myself a Christian. I simply chose to avoid church. I definitely had my reasons, and as a Preacher’s Kid, felt I’d had my share of  that life.

Religion, for those who have never experienced such a thing, is not for the faint of heart. Especially when one’s parent happens to be the guy in the pulpit.

I came to the conclusion, somewhere around my 19th birthday that church was not for me. I stopped attending, and approximately 14 years later, can still count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone- at all- since then.

I decided, in all my teenaged wisdom, that the sanctuary was not what its named promised to be, that its pews were filled with hypocrites, liars and all around assholes. I was right, of course, and the irony that the hypocrisy, lying and tom-foolery was exactly why we all needed to be there was lost on me for many years.

Over time, as is inevitably the case, life happened, and I stopped thinking about church altogether. I became a Fox Hole Christian- only thinking about God when I really found myself in the line of fire, in the middle of a crisis, a catastrophe- praying hard that He will get me out of whatever mess I managed to plop myself into the middle of.

Lately, I’ve been on a mission to fine tune my existence. I’m not a single mom anymore, having remarried about a year ago, and it’s amazing how much pressure we can take off of ourselves when we are no longer on our own. For the first time in my entire adulthood, I feel stable and secure. Life isn’t about surviving anymore, but is now about thriving.

I can look to the future and make plans.

It was during this process that my husband, about a week ago said, “Let’s go to church this Sunday”.

I didn’t protest, not because I thought it was a great idea, but because he sprung it on me at 7 o’clock in the morning, before I’d consumed the required amount of coffee to make my brain function properly.

He could have suggested, “Let’s join a club and pretend to be monkeys who hang from the tops of trees eating bananas and screeching at passersby all day”, and I blinkingly would have nodded, mumbling something along the lines of, “that sounds like a great idea”.

Before I knew it, Sunday was here. I overslept and almost chose not to go, but something told me I had to.

I am a skeptic by nature, but walking in the door, seeing the smiles, the welcoming faces, I somehow knew- instantly- that I was in the right place.

The message was a beautiful one, from beginning to end.

It was a lesson of love, hope, forgiveness, empowerment and personal responsibility.

All the things I stand on…

… Everything that means anything to me.

I know where I’ll be this Sunday- and I’ll be there happily.

And no, I’m not talking about eating bananas from treetops, either.

Posted in Bible, Facebook, Faith, God, Marriage, Porn, Pornography, Religion, Rex Ryan, Scripture, Sex

Who’s Your Daddy?

A pastor whom I greatly admire recently posted a question on his Facebook page. The question asked his followers to chime in on whether or not they thought watching porn with their spouses is a sin.

I found it interesting, and a little disturbing, that each and every person (save for my husband and myself) answered that yes, watching porn with one’s spouse is a sin.

Personally speaking, I don’t enjoy porn, and neither does my husband, so it’s never been a part of our relationship. However, I am constantly amazed at the willingness people demonstrate to condemn actions that other couples may enjoy in the privacy and sanctity of their own homes.

Many folks will quote various scriptural passages (such as Matthew 5:27-28) referencing the no-nos of lust (“‘You shall not commit adultery.’[a] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”), as if human behavior is cut and dry, as if intimacy within a marriage can be applied in the fashion of “one size fits all”…

… And as if Jenna Jamison and Ron Jeremy were even around back in the day when Matthew found himself putting pen to paper (or however they wrote stuff down before there were pens and paper).

I find this sad (doesn’t the Bible have a thing or two to say about standing in judgment of others?), but more importantly, I find it irresponsible.

I won’t spend too much time on the biblical context, other than to say that I hope my husband looks at me with lust. We, as humans, are lustful beings, and I better be the one he is lusting after. Within the boundaries of my own marriage, I don’t find lust itself sinful, but lust for others might be problematic.

That being said, I hesitate to flat-out condemn most behaviors that couples may utilize within their own marriages. There is the obvious- abuse and infidelity- but actions that are A) victimless and B) pleasing to both partners should be fair game. There are many behaviors that are not right for me, or for my marriage- porn is one of them. I would never participate in an open marriage, and no one will ever catch me at a swinger’s club, for example.

For the record, I also will not be video-taping skits of my husband and myself in compromising positions, a la Jets’ coach Rex Ryan, his wife, and his foot fetish (though I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what he did, save for the embarrassment the tape caused himself and his family). Truly, if anything like that ever came out about my own parents, I would die on the spot. Instantly.

What I especially will not participate in is telling other couples how to operate within their own bedrooms. Not only is that a gross prospect (smacks of voyeurism, if you ask me), but couples face enough pressures on the day-to-day without having to deal with me sticking my nose into their private lives. I have my own marriage to grow and strengthen, thank you very much.

If other couples find these activities mutually enjoyable, and it helps to both keep them together and strengthen their unions, who am I to tell them their choices are wrong? As is the case in most areas of life- what works for one does not necessarily work for everyone- and vice versa.

This is especially important in times like these, when the divorce rate hovers just over 60%.

I find it difficult to imagine God, who created us as sexual beings, tsk-tsking us from the heavens, for participating in mutually enjoyable actions in our own bedrooms. My initial thought is that He (or She) likely has other things on His (or Her) mind (such as genocide, war, devastating mudslides, tsunamis, earthquakes, the categorical destruction of our planet and each other, hatred and injustice).

After perusing the comments of others on that Facebook page I earlier mentioned, I decided  to call on another pastor whose views I also greatly admire and deeply respect. In fact, this particular minister helped shape my own beliefs, as he is my father, Pastor Jon.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Dad, within the confines of marriage, is it a sin for a couple to watch porn together?

Pastor Jon: <Cough>

Me: Um… So… what do you think?

Pastor Jon: I think the answer to your question is, “Who’s your Daddy?”

Genius, I say!

My father’s point is that both individually and collectively as a couple, people must define for themselves who their “Daddy”, or Father (God) is. Once that question is answered, it is important to understand what that entity’s expectations are. Provided a person’s behavior remains true to that established figure as well as to their spouse, the answers become clear.

I view God as a parental figure, so the question of “Who’s your Daddy?” really resonates with me. Just as my own parents steer clear of my bedroom, I figure God probably stays outta there too. He’s got way too many children to be monitoring each and every harmless shenanigan I may or may not be participating in. He authorized the sexual choices my spouse and I will make when we stood before Him and said our vows, so we’re in good hands.

Remaining true to one’s beliefs, and acting in accordance with the expectations laid before us by one’s God and spouse, it would be difficult to go wrong. It is, however, a personal journey, and not every single person (or couple) will identify with the same “Daddy”. Not all Fathers have the same rules, just as not all couples have the same sexual palate.

I am thankful for my personal journey, for my God, and for my husband.

Now.

Let’s get it on!

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Capital Punishment, Catholic, Conservative, Current Events, Death Penalty, Democrats, Gay Rights, News, Newt Gingrich, Politics, President, Religion, Republicans, Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court

The Supreme Court, Barack Obama and the GOP

Obama has made his decision, nominating Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the new Supreme Court Justice.

From a purely political standpoint, I think this is a genius move on the president’s part.

The GOP, already somewhat hampered due to the stink they made over filibusters during Justices Roberts and Alito’s confirmation hearings, can only complain so much- regardless of whom Obama names- because they don’t want to look like complete hypocrites.

During the Bush Administration, they wanted a simple up-or-down vote for judges… and… well, now they have the opportunity to put their money where their mouth is.

Normally, especially in politics, hypocrisy would be par for the course- something the Republicans need not think twice about. Currently, however, they stand to lose even more than they can afford to, considering that the GOP’s already critically injured.

Their party is on life-support.

The GOP needs the support of the Latino community… which is exactly Judge Sotomayor’s background. How can they justify fighting to exclude a woman who is Catholic, Latina, and more experienced than either justices Roberts or Alito were at the time of their confirmations?

I don’t think they can.

Gingrich can scream that Judge Sotomayor is racist all he wants to… that seems to be his current plan of attack… but really, no one’s listening to that nonsense.

Personally, the thought of another Catholic on the bench- we currently have 5, not including Sotomayor- makes me a little nervous.

Catholics typically don’t support a woman’s right to choose, gay rights or stem cell research… all things that are very important to me. Sotomayor has not had the opportunity to rule much on those issues, so we don’t really know for sure where she stands.

Hopefully, if confirmed, she will keep her religious beliefs off the bench, ruling instead to preserve the rights of all people- recognizing that the freedom to make individual decisions for ourselves is a bigger priority than exulting her own beliefs from on high.

The greater good and all that.

On the flip side, Catholics tend to be adversaries of the death penalty, and that’s something I would love to see abolished… so who knows…

It would have been nice to see a good lesbian, protestant judge nominated, but I do realize we don’t yet live in a country where such an individual’s confirmation would have been possible.

Still… a person can dream, right?

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Catholic, Conservative, Current Events, Notre Dame, Politics, President, Religion

Barack Obama, Notre Dame and an Imagined Scandal

There’s a big controversy brewing at Notre Dame as a result of President Obama’s invitation to give this year’s commencement speech.

A lot of people don’t want him speaking at the school, claiming his beliefs are at odds with the university’s teachings.

Many of these people are Catholics- as is the university itself- and are using this fact as an excuse to try and keep Obama from accepting the college’s invitation.

He’s pro-choice, he’s pro-gay rights, he’s pro-stem cell research… and so for these reasons, they argue, he should not be allowed to give the address.

Quite frankly, it is absolutely ridiculous.

First of all, the Catholic Church has stated, on more than one occassion that Obama cannot be considered a violator of Catholic principals since he, himself, is not Catholic.

This would be the same thing as condemning Jews for not believing in Jesus as the son of God.

It simply isn’t done.

Not in any official capacity, anyway, and not by the Catholic Church.

Second, President Obama is but one in a long list of non-Catholic political figures to have spoken at the University in the past.

He isn’t even the first pro-choice person to be asked.

Obama, one has to assume, likely will not be attempting to convert the students of Notre Dame into bleeding heart liberals… supporters of all-things abortion and gay.

It’s a graduation speech.

Give me a break.

Where was the outrage back in September of 1984 when then-Governor of New York (and Catholic), Mario Cuomo spoke at the University?

Governor Cuomo’s entire speech was centered on the defense of liberal politics and his pro-choice stance.

This guy was not only pro-choice… but he is a Catholic who’s pro-choice… which is a direct violation of that church’s doctrine.

I’m pretty sure it’s punishable by death, in fact.

Prob’ly says something like that in the book of Leviticus.

A Catholic speaking at a Catholic university to defend his pro-choice beliefs sounds way more controversial than a non-Catholic speaking at a graduation ceremony…

…A ceremony in which, due to the theme of the day, will most likely center around nothing more eyebrow-raising than a motivational speech designed to give graduates the ambition they need to go forth into the world and follow their dreams.

Barack Obama simply follows a long line of presidents before him… a tradition, if you will… of giving commencement addresses at Notre Dame.

He joins the likes of Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy (coincidentally, this country’s only Catholic president- ever), Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan.

Interestingly, it was later said of Regan’s speech, that while Notre Dame is definitely an institution of prestige and national influence, Regan’s actions “opposed the values placed on social justice in Catholic moral teaching”.

You paying attention, Conservatives?

Even Regan didn’t get it quite “right”.

Pardon the pun.

What better way to show the world that even people with deeply opposing belief-systems can still find common ground, than by having a man such as Barack Obama speak at a university such as this one?

It’s a wonderful idea.

Hopefully people will get off their moral high ground for long enough to see this for mind-opening opportunity that it truly has the potential to be.

Really, it’s almost as if some people are so terrified that if their children, their innocent li’l college grads, are ever exposed to anyone with different ideas than their own, then these most-precious kids will instantly self-combust.

It’s getting ridiculous.

Let’s work harder at working together, and let’s focus on the goal of killing off closed-mindedness.

If that’s too hard, fine.

Just let the man speak.

Posted in C-Haze, Change, Conservative, Current Events, Dick Cheney, Elections, George Bush, Homosexuality, Hope, News, Policy, Politics, President, Race, Religion, War on Terror

Dick Cheney, Irony and The Mortally Wounded GOP

Dick Cheney thinks it would be a mistake for the Republican Party to ‘moderate’ itself in an attempt to save itself from slowly dying.

This is about fundamental beliefs and values and ideas … what the role of government should be in our society, and our commitment to the Constitution and constitutional principles,” Cheney said in an interview with North Dakota radio host Scott Hennen Thursday, according to a transcript.

“You know, when you add all those things up, the idea that we ought to moderate basically means we ought to fundamentally change our philosophy,” Cheney also said. “I for one am not prepared to do that, and I think most of us aren’t. Most Republicans have a pretty good idea of values, and aren’t eager to have someone come along and say, ‘Well, the only way you can win is if you start to act more like a Democrat.'” –CNN Political Ticker, May 7, 2009

How ironic that Cheney today finds himself arguing for, claiming to support people’s constitutional rights when he fought so desperately during eight years of the Bush Administration to  single handedly destroy them.

This isn’t the Party that protects rights… it has made a name for itself by destroying them.

To list a few…

  • Human rights- by torturing people who do not share “American” beliefs
  • Women’s rights- by attempting to do away with a woman’s right to choose her own reproductive path, and giving a cluster of cells inside her body more consideration than the living, breathing woman whose body they reside in
  • Religious rights- by attempting to silence non-right leaning Christians, by perpetuating hatred for Muslims and others, by shoving a narrow doctrine down the throats of people the world over
  • Gay rights- by actively shaming homosexuals and seeing to it that they do not enjoy the same treatment or benefits of their heterosexual counterparts
  • Minority rights- by fighting against progress, and actively seeking to do away with the very protections (such as affirmative action) that can help our nation achieve racial parity…

The list is endless, really.

I wonder if Dick even realizes that it is his party’s philosophies, ideals and “fundamental beliefs” that are causing the problems- causing their recent and overwhelming defeat-  to begin with.

People, with little exception, do not inherently subscribe to the GOP belief system- a system that systematically destroys the freedoms of so millions… and yet, this is exactly what the Republican Party is fighting to maintain.

Protection for the few, persecution of the many.

If Dick Cheney has his way, that is.

This party, for so long, has been the one to set the narrow standard of what it means to be an American.

You’re either with them or you’re against them.

Not too long ago, to be against them was a dangerous thing.

It was not ok to simply have philosophical differences… to do so was un-American, it was traiterous, it was downright dangerous.

Our country, at long last, is changing.

I’m happy for it.

I hope Dick Cheney eventually grasps the fact that in large part due to his actions, his philosophies- his ideals- and his very Party are an endangered species.

It begs the question…

… Is he with us, or against us?

He has drawn his line in the sand.

Posted in C-Haze, Current Events, News, Policy, Politics, Religion, Torture, War on Terror

Pews, Research and The Church

One of my pet peeves is people using their brand of religion as an excuse to do hateful and hurtful things.

My contempt isn’t reserved solely for Christians.

However, because I am more familiar with the teachings of Christianity than I am other religions, it does tend to upset me more when I see self-proclaimed Christians doing evil things in the name of God.

I learned of a new Pew Research survey regarding church goers and their support of torture.

The results were not surprising.

Of the 742 American adults questioned, 54% of regular church attendees (those who go at least once a week) are in support of torture.

Those who do not go to church- or who rarely attend- were least likely to support the torture of other human beings.

I am reminded of my father’s first church, right after he graduated from Seminary. It is because of that church that I refuse to attend services to this day.

I was a junior in high school, have never met so many evil, hypocritical, vicious people in such close proximity to each other.

These church members were quick to judge others- anyone and everyone but themselves, in fact- and showed little, if any, compassion- ever.

I was quickly confused…

Am I really to believe that these “faithful” members- these jerks- that show up at church each and every Sunday have a better chance of going to heaven than someone who truly lives a more Christ-like existence- but rarely (or never) goes to church?

I would happily take my chances with the Ghandis of the world… or an atheist who works tirelessly for world peace… a homosexual that spends his life working so that all people, regardless of color, sex, ethnicity or sexual orientation can enjoy basic human rights… people who never set foot in a church…

… But who are doing more to live as Jesus would want us to than his own supposed followers are.

Surely Jesus would never approve of the horrific, inhumane, torturous treatment of any of his father’s children.

Not the Jesus I know.

Yet it is his so-called followers that most staunchly support the unspeakably horrible treatment of others.

Way to get it wrong, folks.

I guess I’ll see y’all in hell.

Posted in Bill Richardson, C-Haze, Capital Punishment, Change, Current Events, Death Penalty, Hope, News, Policy, Politics, Race, Religion, True Crime

New Mexico Governor Repeals Capital Punishment

Today I was happy to read that Governor Bill Richardson has signed a bill aboloshing the death penalty in New Mexico.

I realize that this was a very tough decision for him to make… Richardson does believe that the death penalty- in rare cases- is just punishment for especially heinous crimes.

His statement reads, in part:

Regardless of my personal opinion about the death penalty, I do not have the confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime.

The governor’s signing of the bill, as one would expect, was met with some criticism.

The New Mexico Sheriffs’ and Police Association (among others), opposes the bill.

They have issued a statement claiming that the state’s law enforcement officers are now in more danger as a result of the repeal.

The Association would have a point if there was any data whatsoever to show that the death penalty actually serves as a deterrent to crime.

In fact, statistics show states that do not have the death penalty actually have lower murder rates than states that do. In 2007, non-death penalty states had murder rates that were 42% lower than states that carry out the punishment.

42%.

That ain’t a small number…  and certainly not an insignificant one.

People who commit horrific crimes are typically not thinking about the potential consequences of their actions.

Generally speaking, would-be criminals do not walk around saying to themselves…

Gee, I’d really like to rape and murder that kid over there… and I sure would do it too… if it weren’t for that stupid lethal injection I’d probably get.

It just doesn’t happen that way… and available data pretty much proves it.

The death penalty is not a punishment that serves the interest of justice.

On the contrary, it serves the interest of revenge. 

It’s not difficult to understand why families of victims would prefer blood… death… an eye for an eye…

Who wouldn’t?

Human emotion, however, especially in such highly-charged circumstances, does not equate to justice served.

Our justice system- or court system, as I like to call it (in my opinion, it is sickeningly short on justice)- is imperfect, just like the humans who run it.

As long as there is a chance that even one single person could be killed for a crime he or she did not commit… as long as there is classism and racism running rampant in our society…

The only responsible action, in the interest of justice- true justice– is to repeal the death penalty.

New Mexico, while just one state, has done a great thing.

Let’s hope other states follow suit.

Posted in C-Haze, Change, Current Events, Dating, Hope, News, Policy, Politics, Relationships, Religion, Science, Sex, Single Mom

AIDS, Andino, and The Diva

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the AIDS epidemic- both in the U.S. and abroad.

I’ve blogged about it myself on more than one occassion.

It’s been my stance, since day one, that one of the keys to curbing what is fast becoming a plague is education.

The abstinence-only approach isn’t just unrealistic- it is dangerous.

It simply isn’t enough.

Some people may take well to a lesson on abstinence, but many others will ignore it entirely.

Too often, parents use abstinence as a cop-out. It’s an excuse not to have to talk about things we do not feel comfortable discussing.

As parents, we need to get over it.

We must educate our children. We must remove the stigma that is currently attached to having open, candid conversations with them.

AIDS will kill our babies if we don’t.

My oldest daughter, The Diva (she’s 10), was trying to make some money by doing extra chores the other day.

She decided to clean out The Hippie Andino’s car- he’s my 25 year-old baby brother.

I thought this was a wonderful idea.

When she was done with the job, she came back inside, and I immediately noticed the look of horror on her face. She was holding something in her hand, though I couldn’t tell what it was.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

She answers, in an accusing tone, “Look what I found in The Hippie Andino’s trunk…”, and shoves the contents of her hand in my face.

When I saw what she was holding, I could immediately feel the heat in my cheeks. Though I really had no reason to be, I found myself embarrassed for her.

She was holding a tattered box of condoms.

Oops.

I was confused by her tone… why is she being accusatory? Why is she acting as my brother is doing something wrong by having safe sex?

I decided to take this opportunity to speak candidly with my child- and hopefully turn this into a teaching moment.

So I asked her, “Why would you be upset?”

She responded, “Because- they’re condoms. Gross.”

I said to her, “He is being responsible. He’s having safe sex. He isn’t getting anyone pregnant, and he is protecting himself and his partner from sexually transmitted diseases.”

I explained that while condoms may seem “gross” to her right now, they are important.

They save lives.

The Diva’s world opened up just a little at that moment.

She didn’t view those condoms in disgust or contempt any longer, and with great relief I realized, she gets it.

It isn’t necessary to constantly harp on our children, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week about the horrors of sex and AIDS.

This particular exchange took less than five minutes, from start to finish.

We can educate our babies a step at a time- provided we start the process early enough. By the time they find themselves old enough to be faced with these grave decisions, they will have already had all the information they need to make the right choices.

Hopefully, by then, it will be second nature.

With absolutely no bombarding whatsoever- by taking advantage of the little teaching moments life throws our way- we can raise our kids to be responsible adults…

… One educational opportunity at a time.