Tony

Tony
My brother in law Tony helping the poor

Sunday, July 25, 2010

America, Home of the "Slave"

 I realize that this article might ruffle a few feathers, and I sure hope it does.  A few weeks ago, as a tribute to the 4th of July, I wrote an article on the true meaning of freedom.  Since then I have to admit that I have seen some things in my own life that have made me question our choice of freedom in this country.  I am not too terribly old but I have lived long enough to see some changes in this country that have seriously altered my opinion of "freedom."

Just yesterday I was shopping with my sister at a local department store in Cleveland.  She was adamant about getting some new makeup product at one the many counters.  So, just to be social, I decided to approach one the counter sales clerks about a makeup product I have been using for years but just haven't been able to find.  Since I don't like to wear heavy foundation on my face (I prefer a more natural look-this might be TMI) I choose to use a tinted moisturizer.   In the summer I like to have a natural tinted moisturizer with no sunblock, but for the past 2 years it has been impossible to find and I am getting real tired of trying to squeeze another drop out of the tube I am already using.

When I asked the clerk where I could buy such a product, she said that ALL of the makeup manufacturers have decided to put SPF in their product since "it is better and healthier for your skin."  "Oh really?"  I guess I never knew that...right!  Of course I know that too much sun is bad for your skin, but really, how much sun are we talking about when we women wear foundation makeup?  We walk from our car to our jobs, back to our car, and then back to our attached garages.  Ooooh, I'm sure I am killing myself.  The government even went so far as to add an "extra" tax on purchases at tanning salons.  The truth is, I like to have a little color on my face.  I look at all the white pasty people walking around in the middle of summer and think, "you would look so much healthier with just a little bit of color on your skin."  Now come on people, you know you've said it yourself.

And what about all those people in hot tropical places like El Salvador?  I'm pretty sure they are not strolling up to the Este Lauder counter and demanding sun block for when they work in the fields.  They look good to me!  They look healthier than most of the pasties in this country.  And then came the announcement from the Cleveland Clinic that they will no longer have any food items available that contain sugar, in any of their facilities.  So now we can add sugar and sunshine to cigarettes and tanning the drug companies, government officials, and doctors have declared are no good for Americans.

The most ironic thing to me is that you can turn on the TV, and while I do not subscribe to any pornographic channels (to the dismay of my teenage boys), we can all clearly read every smutty description on every Pay Per View channel available; or we can walk down any neighborhood street and get an abortion, no questions asked, or buy a gun and carry it almost anywhere; and there are probably more young adults on "prescription" marijuana in the state of California than anywhere else in the world!  But get a suntan...how dare I?!

It doesn't stop there, now we have cameras watching our every move as we drive down the street.  You can be happily driving along, and then BAMB...you get a bill in the mail for $200 for going 10 miles of the speed limit.  It's crazy and it is an encroachment on our freedom.  You want to get me speeding, catch me fair and square, after all we are paying tax dollars so that we can have police on the streets to do just that.  We have all this being taken away, but the one thing we Americans NEED we can't seem to have...a job.  We have restrictions on so many things these days but I never thought we'd have restrictions on finding work.  A friend of mine told me that a friend of his took his life last week because he had 3 kids and a wife and could not find a job for the past 3 months.  3 months, and he killed himself with one of those guns anyone can walk up and buy. Those won't kill you but sunshine sure will!

Come on people, get real.  Stop telling everyone what to do in this country.  When I was a kid I couldn't wait to become an adult so that people would stop telling what to do all the time.  Now that I am an adult I feel like my "parents" are still barking out orders.  I want my face lotion without sunscreen.  I want to be able to put on the TV in front of my kids without cringing at the vulgar language. I want to be able to drive down the road to my house in peace without fear of getting a nasty bill in the mail.  I want to live in AMERICA, the home of the brave, not the slave.

Who's with me on this one?

I'm sure there will be those who think this article is anti-American but I am hear to say it is VERY American.  I am exercising  my right of free speech....at least while I still can!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Stranger of Hope

Do you know what people really want?  A job? Less bills? More money? Happy lives?  Nope...it's HOPE (you like my little rhyme?)  Why don't we talk about this hope more?  Why do we take it for granted, like it is an abstract word or something?

Why hope you ask?  A few days ago I was feeling pretty down.  What happened was, I have been home with my kids this whole summer, and what a beautiful time to be home in Cleveland!  I was loving it.  Then, my son started football practice and suddenly it dawned on me that summer was coming to an end.  That meant that I had to kick it in gear and REALLY start looking for a job.  On top of that, I received an email from the Unemployment Bureau that Congress has been in a filibuster over extending unemployment benefits.  Which meant that in just 4 weeks my unemployment was going to run out and there might not be an extension available (which I was sort of counting on - my bad).  Well, that changed everything!  The rush was on now.  How could this summer have gone by so quickly?

So a few days ago I woke up at 7 am and started researching job opportunities.  I can not tell you how bleak it is out there.  In my industry (marketing/pr/development) there are only a handful of good jobs available and about 300 applicants per job.  Then there are those jobs that pay $10 an hour, which I wouldn't mind, but as soon as they ask what my previous salary was they pretty much hang up on me.  Then there are a ton of great development jobs, that's because in a bad economy non-profits are scurrying to find every spare penny.  The problem is, when the economy is bad the last thing people want to do is give their money away!  So you see the problem.

I was so frustrated and depressed that I almost had a breakdown.  I sat down to pray and said, "God, you got me through college with two little kids in tow, you gave me the strength and the courage to get it done, and I know there are a million people more needy than I, but you HAVE to give me something to hope in!"  About an hour later I put everything aside and decided to take my pooch Lenny for a walk.  We walked almost half way around the block when a rather large man started walking towards us.  He was well dressed and looked like he was walking with a purpose.  As he approached us I waved and started making a little small talk.  He told me that he was a big golfer.  "So is my husband!" I barked.  I asked if he golfs at Gleneagles (our community "country club,") he replied, "yeah, all the time."  I told him I just had my charity golf outing there 2 weeks ago and he asked for what charity?  I explained I host a golf outing for the people of El Salvador every year, then I told him how I visited the people there several times.  He said, "are you looking for work now?"  "Oh yeah!" I replied.  He said, walk with me to my house, I have a name of someone I want you to talk to about a job."

Now, this guy had never met me before, and if memory serves me right, I'm pretty sure I was dressed more for going on a jog than an interview, but he took a few minutes out of his busy day to talk to me and help a stranger.  I have no idea what will come of our little chat, I'm not even concerned about it, but what I am surprised about is how quickly God answered my prayer!  It's not that I wanted a job that day (I'm still enjoying the sunshine:) but I wanted some HOPE.  I wanted to hope in the Lord again, hope in others, and hope in myself again.  This kind stranger gave me what I had prayed for....hope.

Thank you God for answering our prayers.  Thanks also for not answering us when we demand what is not meant for us.  Today I have renewed hope in God, others and myself.  So many times we get discouraged with ourselves and others which can begin the slow process of slipping into depression.  Ask God to help you, to give you the courage to trust in Him....even when we can't.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Freedom is a Choice, not a right

Here in Cleveland we have been blessed to have some absolutely fabulous weather this summer.  It's that kind of summer that reminds me of when I was a kid.  We used to hang out on the front porches of our neighbor's house and everyone would have either their car radios on or we would gather in someone's basement and listen to one of the many bands that formed from the hundreds of talented kids on our street.  Ahhhh, the good old days, right?  Wrong.  Now that I have two teenage boys those memories are beginning to haunt me.

I just happen to have two VERY handsome boys (they must get their looks from their dad....not).  Anyhow, my younger son Johnny has been very adventurous this summer, riding his bike all over the neighborhood, visiting every girls house on his way to nowhere.  To be honest, I'm not really happy with the fact that he has all this new found freedom.  It's really funny though because when I was his age (and don't tell him this) I would do the same thing!  I would ride my bike to 50 different houses, stop and talk to all the boys, then come home some time just after dark.  But for some reason, his doing it is a LOT different.  Of course, we didn't have cell phones then and there was no way for my mom to check up on me (not that she ever would want to) and there was a great sense of "freedom" I enjoyed, but for some reason, when kids today do the same, we parents totally freak out!

I don't think we should not trust our teenagers or want to take away their "freedom", I think it is our responsibility to restrict their freedom for their own safety and keep a close eye on what they are doing.  Nothing bothers me more than parents who don't care or don't have a clue what their child is doing.  The truth is, I am not capable of policing my kids 24-7 so I have to have some trust, but at the end of the day you can be sure that I am asking the questions!

This leads me to ask, what is true freedom?  Freedom, as I explained to my young son, is not the right to do whatever one wants, it is the right to choose only to do good.  "What?" you may ask.  Let me explain.  People have the gift of free will, but with every gift comes responsibility.  If we were given the right to do whatever we wanted, what would stop us from killing, stealing, raping, lying, hurting, drinking and driving, etc.?  If we choose to do anything evil, mean, or illegal, we are not choosing to be free.  Eventually, one infraction leads to another and then another and another.  Soon we become slaves to whatever we were "free" to choose.  Addictions are examples of how a person's freedom can be taken away from them.  First, we like it, then we can't live our day without it.  Does that sound like freedom to you?

God gives us free will so that we may alway do what it right.  When we choose things that we know are morally or ethically wrong, we are choosing to disobey God, and therefore we are giving up our freedom.  I am writing this article today on the weekend of our countries celebration of its freedom, July 4th.  I hope this is a reminder to all that our freedom was earned on the backs of others.  We enjoy freedom in this country because of the many people who lost their lives so that we can have it.  We continue to enjoy this country because of the many people who continue to give their lives so that we can keep it.  Let's not abuse our right to freedom by carelessly choosing to be selfish.  We parents try to encourage our teenagers to make good choices because in the end we know it is better and healthier for them to do so.  We adults need to also make good choices as examples for our kids.  This weekend, remember the true meaning of freedom and I pray that we "choose" to make good and selfless decisions that will benefit all those who come after us so that they will continue to enjoy this same gift of FREEDOM.  Thank you Lord for setting us FREE and holding us accountable.