Mistreating Aliens

It’s really hard to stay away from blogging when I have so many ideas to share and the whole wide world as a potential audience. Not that I have that many readers, but still…. Blogging gives one the opportunity to spout off about something she feels strongly about, ideas she’s been considering, and just plain old news updates. And you don’t have to have anyone to edit your work or give you advice or permission to post it. So here goes.

 

Lately one of the things I hear about just about every single day of my life is the fact that we have so many people in America who don’t speak English and who, in fact, are not even citizens (many of them). I usually keep my mouth shut tight because there are no easy answers to this growing “issue.” A few weeks ago DH and I traded in my trusty Camry for a Highlander (my dream car), and the man who worked with us was from India. I know because he told us so. His accent was still strong although he’s been in the states for a couple of decades. DH got a little annoyed at first and said something like, “With all of the people working here, we get stuck with a person who’s not even American.”

 “He is American, Dear,” I said sweetly.

“Well, okay, then someone who doesn’t even speak English,” he countered.

“He does speak English,” I hissed.

“Yes, but I can’t understand a word he says with that accent of his.”

“Don’t you think you have an accent and that he might have a problem understanding you? Besides, Hon, you just need to get over it because this is the way it is.”

 

The gentleman was effective, courteous, and knowledgeable, and within a very short period of time we walked out of CARMAX with everything taken care of…and I do mean everything. All I have to do now is pay for the shiny red Highlander every month.

 

Anyway, this conversation and others like it were on my mind last week when I was re-reading parts of the Old Testament, specifically some verses in Exodus. Within a short space of fifteen minutes, I came across three admonitions from God himself to the Israelites not to mistreat aliens. Actually, the version of the scriptures I was using was not the King James version; that version uses the word “strangers” instead of “aliens.” Still, the message is the same. Don’t mistreat or deal unkindly with people who are strangers or aliens, for as the Israelites were reminded, we were once aliens in Egypt…in a sense, that is. If not you, then your forefathers and foremothers.

 

So the message is, “Get over it, Folks. This country is not exclusively YOUR country. This is not to say that I don’t think aliens, strangers, and foreigners (whatever that means) should “do as the Romans do” and learn to speak English, get a job, and pay taxes because I do. That’s a subject for another day…or maybe later today depending on how things unfold.

Baby Mama

Yes, “times are achangin” as they say, and yet that doesn’t necessarily mean that the changes are for the better. One such recent change has to do with the relatively blasé attitude of young men and women towards the birth of children. To be a little more specific…towards the birth of children to single mothers. 

This is not a “holier than thou” post but rather one of concern and dismay, concern for the babies and their mamas and dismay that so many beautiful young women continue to find themselves in this situation. While I’m aware that unwedded pregnancies have occurred since the dawn of time, what makes today different is that people are well aware of exactly what causes pregnancy, and they are inundated with information on birth control.

 

Oh, and the dads aren’t going to get off the hook. I’m equally baffled at the frequency with which these deadbeat dads are so cavalier about their offspring and the women who give them birth. This week Senator Obama had a few choice words to say to these young men about taking their responsibilities more seriously. I mean, good grief, these are children, children who need plenty of TLC, not to mention milk, nourishing food, clothing, shelter…you know, the basics.

 

It’s heartbreaking to realize that one in six children lives in poverty. After all, what kinds of jobs are out there for women with little or no education, many of them teens? Even if Mama does find a job, who will watch the children while she’s out earning money for the basics? And then what happens when she gets sick, or worse, when the baby gets sick? Who will pay for the doctor visits and the medicine?

 

This topic is controversial and far too complex for someone like me to even begin to resolve. All I know is that babies need a love AND a whole lot more, and I’m not so sure that many young parents fully realize this. Nor do they realize the everlasting ramifications of having a baby. Even in the best of situations, raising children is taxing, extremely rewarding but also difficult. How can a young single uneducated mother do it  alone?

 

You might be wondering what led to this scathing (?) post. Observation, reading, teaching, and a growing anxiety for the next generation are part of it. Senator Obama’s call to action let me know that I’m not the only person who sees and ponders this problem. And finally, there was this term from urbandictionary.com that I read the other day. The tone is lighthearted, but the truth behind it is piercingly painful.

 

The word for June 13 is baby mama

The mother of your child(ren), whom you did not marry and with whom you are not currently involved.

Oh her? She ain’t nothing to me now, girl, she just my baby mama. So, can I get your number?

Ladies, wake up. You and your children deserve the best that life and love have to offer.

Selling Your Life

I just finished reading a book that’s made a profound difference in how I view work. Entitled Nickel and Dimed, it’s by Barbara Ehrenreich and tells of her year-long foray into the world of minimum wage jobs. Waitress, nursing home aide, hotel maid, cleaning lady with The Maids, and “Wal-Martian” were a few of the jobs she held while subsisting on meager compensation and living in inadequate housing. Ha Ha. To call her accommodations “housing” is pretty funny. How many of you have ever gone “home” from work to find your landlord standing in your room to inform you that there’s been a little sewage problem and that, in fact, it’s in your room?

 

There’s so much I could say about Dr. Ehrenreich’s experiences, but today I want to zero in on a paragraph in which she’s describing her perceptions of her Wal-Mart tenure.  “You could get old pretty fast here. In fact, time does funny things when there are no little surprises to mark it off into memorable chunks, and I sense that I ‘m already several years older than I was when I started….Yes, I know that any day now I’m going to return to the variety and drama of my real Barbara Ehrenreich life. But this fact sustains me only in the way that, say, the prospect of heaven cheers a terminally ill person: it’s nice to know, but it isn’t much help from moment to moment. What you don’t necessarily realize when you start selling your time by the hour is that what you’re actually selling is your life.”

 

Selling your time by the hour is actually selling your life! This fits into nicely to something I’ve been writing about for a few months, the idea that what you do for a living, if you do it long enough, will eventually become a way of making a life. That said, I don’t know why more people don’t spend the time and effort necessary to make their lives rewarding.  

 

What you do, your self concept, your friends, what you think about, what neighborhood or community you live in, your income level, your status, your health, and just about every other aspect concerning adult life is related to occupational choice. I’m not big on statistics, but I’d venture to say that perhaps as much as 90 percent of your happiness or misery can hang on occupational choice.

 

Let’s start by thinking of our work as a calling, a vocation, instead of a job. Then read her book if you dare.

 

You Go, Girl!!

Upon re-reading the “three graduates” post, I’ve decided that the tone is a little too preachy for me. The post has that know-it-all tone that’s just not indicative of how I am…or at least not of how I want to come across. At the same time, working in education over three decades (my, how time flies) has taught me tons of lessons, one of which is that unless you have some incredible talent, family money, or some other exceptional attribute (think Anna Nicole)  that provides the lifestyle you aspire too, then education is (I’ll say it again) the ticket.  Semester after semester, year after year, I hear life stories to confirm this, and this morning I want to share one.

It’s of a young woman who wrote a beautiful yet heart wrenching essay about the seemingly never ending series of dead-end jobs she had held. Her conclusion: “Education is the only answer that can prevent disrespect, encourage self value and allow our families to survive beyond paycheck to paycheck.” Before writing the conclusion, Rene told of a couple of job situations that tore at my heart, not only because I know this outstanding young woman and hate to know that she was mistreated but also because her essay awoke my consciousness to the fact that there are untold numbers of women who are experiencing exactly what she did.

Why don’t I just stop yakking and insert one of her stories? The only thing I’ve changed is the name of her employer.

 

 One of my first minimum wage jobs was at the age of 18, working as a third shift convenience store clerk. I had a son about a year and a half old. I worked from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m.  because I figured if I worked while he slept, I could spend more time with him during the day. One night my son got sick and I had to go to work. I called my manager, John, when I got there to tell him of the possibility of having to leave if my son got worse. Around 2 a.m. my son’s temperature spiked up to 102.5 and my mom couldn’t get it to go down. I called John and he refused to come to the store and allow me to leave. He said my first responsibility was to the store and if I left, he would fire me. I tried everything I could to make him understand that I had to take care of my son, but he believed that I had no choice if I wanted to keep my job. He believed my duty to the job and my need for it would outweigh the duty to my son; therefore, I would keep the store open.

That night I had to make a decision that could possibly cost me my job. After John hung up the phone on me, the decision seemed much clearer. I decided I could find another minimum wage job. I locked up the store and left a note on the door. I had only been in the emergency room about an hour when I was called to the pay phone. John asked if I was going back to open the store when I finished at the hospital. I think it was that very minute that I realized that this man had no respect for me as a parent or even as person. I hung up the phone and went back to my son. Later that afternoon, once I had gotten my son home and in bed, I took the keys back to the store and I told John I wouldn’t work for someone who thinks very little of me or my family.

Needless to say, I found another minimum wage job a couple of days later. I did something some people can’t do. I walked out and took a chance on finding another job. Some people would have stayed because they really didn’t feel like they had a choice.”

 

Rene wrote of a couple of other situations and of her feelings that eventually led her to pursue an education. This young woman is now a police officer who is pursuing a four-year degree “in her spare time” and who is one of the biggest advocates around for higher education. She talks daily to people, especially women, encouraging them to take the first step towards a better life for their families. Rene thus describes the plight of minimum wage mothers: “Our main concern is to survive another week. As we struggle to survive another week, it is a persistent fight against no respect, no self value and no education.”

 

I have other stories, but I’ll save them for another day. This morning I just wanted to get another pitch in for education. Whether it’s one course that will improve job skills, or a certificate, diploma, or degree, it’s the way to a life with more choices and more respect.

 

 

Eyebrow Raising Article

While doing a little “homecaring” this morning, I came across some old newspapers and just had to scan a few articles before tossing them. Yes, I’m still old fashioned enough to enjoy reading from the actual newspaper; there’s just something special about being able to open it, separate the sections, fold certain pages down, and take it specific articles around with me to reread…like the one I found this morning.

In The State of March 6, a headline about eyebrow transplants caught my eye, so I read on. Hmmm. Intrigued, I read all of it, every word, and now I’m feeling a lot less guilty about having my brows waxed earlier this week. Apparently, many women (and some men) who are “follically challenged” are opting to have hair(s) removed from their scalps, legs, or trunks and transplanted into their brow line.  The transplants can be a little tricky since hair growth varies on different parts of the body. Head hair grows at a rapid ½ inch per month, much faster than brow hair. Accordingly, a person would have to trim her brows often…or have someone do it for her. Plus, there are apparently problems with transplanted hairs growing in wild directions, something that can be remedied with plucking.

A typical transplant requires between 50 and 300 transplanted hairs and can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000.  For those who find that a bit pricey, they might consider tattoos or an eyebrow pencil.  “Eyebrows are the most important part of the face,” according to Crystal Thomas, a brow specialist. Without them, we’re expressionless.

Bottom line: I’m feeling a lot less guilty about spending $8 to have mine waxed. After all, who wants to appear expressionless?

The Widow’s Mite

Okay, I’ll admit that I’m a Romney fan. I also like Hillary and Obama, and I DO NOT like Huckabee. There’s just something about his affable nature combined with his dark staring eyes that scares me. I’d call him a wolf in sheep’s clothing except that that wouldn’t be very Christian of me. Oh heck, I’ll do it anything, especially after what I heard this morning.

What I heard was part of his speech last night that took a swipe at Romney and his millions and gave praise to Huckabee with his shoe string budget. The remark had something to do with the importance of the widow’s mite, and two hours later I’m still wondering exactly what he meant. I know he was referring to his funds compared to Romney’s, but I still don’t get the clear connection. Call me dense, but I thought the widow’s mite was deemed important because she took all that she had and gave it to the temple.  To the temple…to God.

Is that what Huckabee’s saying? That he’s giving all that he has to God? I’ve seldom heard him mention God at all. So maybe he’s saying that despite the fact that his coffers aren’t as full as Romney’s, his “widow’s mite” went further and counted for more? But wait, I’m confused again. Are we talking about contributions to God or to a campaign?

I’ve read that Huckabee dropped out of seminary after a year, so maybe he has the widow’s mite story confused with something else…or he’s missed the meaning entirely. Or I’ve missed the meaning of the story. Or I’ve misunderstood Huckabee’s reference entirely. It just seems to be that an ordained Baptist minister would choose a better scripture to describe his contribution to the campaign. 

I firmly believe in speaking kind words to and about others, and yet there comes a time when a person must speak up against wrong doing…and wrong saying. What was it that Edmund Burke said? Something about all that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men (or women) to say nothing.

Protecting Children

Just a few quick ramblings about children in America. Yesterday I heard that McCain vowed to protect the rights of the unborn. While I applaud him for this, I want to hear him and all of the other candidates state that they will protect the rights of babies and children, born and unborn, rich and poor. So many of the pro-life lawmakers do all they can to stem the tide of abortion but then do little to improve the lives of these precious little ones once they are born…often into the homes of abject poverty or to parents who simply cannot feed or clothe them adequately. And let’s don’t forget the single mothers whose ranks are swelling by the hour. Who is helping with these children?

It’s a complicated issue, for sure. And yet I KNOW that children raised in poverty have a tough go of it (understatement).  The United States has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the industrialized world, and often socio-economic factors are at play.  Food, clothing, shelter, health care, medicine, and education are some of the areas affected by SES, and often our legislators know little about how so many of America’s poor children actually have to live. One in six lives at or below the poverty line. Without nutrition, bodies and brains can’t develop normally. Without health care, health issues are exacerbated. Inadequate housing and overcrowding contribute to childhood accidents.

There are no easy answers. I’m just saying that we all need to vow to protect the rights of the already born as well as those of the unborn. And we need to encourage our leaders to do the same thing.

May the Best Man Win

It could very well be that my opinion doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in the Florida Primary today, and yet I feel that I have to make one little itty-bitty comment concerning one of McCain’s remarks about Romney. Although I didn’t hear it all and perhaps I could be taking it out of context, the gist of what I heard is that America needs a leader, not a manager. While the worthy senator and war hero conceded that Romney was a terrific manager, he expressed some serious doubts about his leadership ability.

What I think is that anyone who looks at Romney and his family can surely see the evidence of strong leadership. Isn’t he the only Republican candidate who’s been married only once? Aren’t his fine young sons proof that Mitt and Elizabeth Romney have provided guidance and powerful examples of integrity, hard work, and service? I didn’t hear all of  the interview with three of his sons, but I heard enough to know that these young men love and respect their parents. One admitted that often he’d get discouraged with a task and want to quit; his father, on the other hand, would always keep on keeping on. I like that tenacity. I also like that Mitt Romney leads by example.

A final comment about family leadership, and then I’ll stop this diatribe (so much for an itty bitty comment) and get back to work. The night that Romney gave his talk on faith, one of his little grandchildren who was on the stage afterwards reached for his hand in a natural, trusting sort of way, and this man who has proven himself as a leader and manager over and over again did what came naturally to him. He took the child’s hand. It wasn’t a contrived, deliberate attempt to demonstrate what a great grandfather and family leader he is. That simple gesture spoke volumes.

Time to stop the mud slinging, Gents. Cease and desist. Let us all see your leadership qualities, and may the best man win.

SC Primary

It’s a cold rainy day in SC, and the polls are open. If you care at all about the future of this great country, grab your umbrella and head out to cast your vote. That way, at least you’ll know you had a say, and that kind of gives you the right to whine and complain later if things (policies, high taxes, immigration laws, etc.) aren’t to your liking.

And yes, I’ve already been. Elizabeth and I are heading out for Rincon, GA in a few minutes to celebrate Brooke’s third birthday, and I’m proudly wearing my little “I Voted” sticker to remind everyone we see in the Cracker Barrel, the rest areas, and the BP stations to get out and make a difference.

Despite our many problems, this is still the best country on Earth. Do you part to make sure it stays that way…starting today in the SC Primary.

Romney Rebounds; Huckabee Reacts

So far, I’ve refrained from posting any opinions or beliefs about the Presidential candidates. Even when Huckabee’s “innocent” question about whether Mormons believed that Christ and Satan were brothers was posed AFTER the interview was completed, I remained quiet. Even when I read later descriptions of him as “smarmy” for asking the question in such a deliberately contrived way so as to appear actually concerned, I held back. Later still, I read that the reason Huckabee didn’t know the answer to that question and many others is because he left seminary after one year, and I still refused to comment.  One year of seminary. Amazing, especially when I consider that I know numbers of people who are voting for him, not because he’s the best candidate for the job, but because he’s an ordained Baptist minister…after one year of seminary.  

So why am I writing about him now? Because earlier today I read that he called Romney a dishonest politician. Hello! Has anyone out there heard about the folly of throwing stones and living in glass houses? Huckabee conceded that he may have been hurt by Romney’s ads and mailings criticizing his record as governor of Arkansas and then suggested that voters could not trust a person who had been so dishonest in his attempts to get the job (as President).  The truth is that Romney has rebounded in Iowa, and Huckabee, now that he has come under greater scrutiny, has slipped.

 Do we vote for a person because of gender, race, or religion…or even looks? Do we NOT vote for someone for those very reasons? In the words of Billy Mitchum whose letter was published in today’s The State newspaper, “Let me have a person who can lead our foreign policy, economic policy, immigration policy, energy policy, and all other policies, while dealing effectively with a Congress more interested in its petty political agendas than in the needs of our country. For my part, I will vote for the person I consider to be a leader, and leave questions of faith and religion to the one who will finally judge us all.”

Here, Here, Mr. Mitchell. I’m with you.