Monday, March 25, 2013

Steubenville, Chardon

For the better part of two weeks, I’ve been asked whether or not I would write a blog regarding the criminal trials in Steubenville and Chardon.  What can one say to express sufficient outrage at the actions of these young men and the devastation they have caused to the victims, the victims’ families, and their communities? 

In the end, I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said, and I would rather not waste my words on the perpetrators.  They have received more than enough publicity, and they won’t get more from me.  Rather, I will direct my prayers and positive thoughts toward the victims and their families.  They need all the support they can get to face the challenges of the future. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Rob Portman: A Leopard Changes His Spots

In a singular act of courage (or political suicide), Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio publically changed his stance on same-sex marriage.  I admire his courage in making that change.  It cannot have been easy for him to do so.  I have been reading his Facebook page and other online comments.  There have been supportive posts; then again, I have seen horrific, vile, and inflammatory ones.  I wonder if the latter comment posters ever listen to themselves.

I do find it interesting that politicians think it is okay to blatantly orate and legislate discrimination, then suddenly change their minds when it becomes “personal.”  When I vote for someone, I do so with the hope that he or she will govern in a way that reflects the needs of those that put him or her in office.  That requires the elected official put aside personal feelings and do what is best for the constituents, not use that power to foist his or her own personal or religious beliefs on the people who voted. 
We are all equal under the law, and that means something to me.  It’s important to remember that equality under the law means the right to equal protection of the laws, a law being any basic right or freedom to which all human beings are entitled and in whose exercise a government may not interfere (including rights to life and liberty as well as freedom of thought and expression and equality before the law).  This applies to everyone, not just to those who are white, or Christian, or male, or straight.
I have always believed in organized religion.  I think it’s important for children to grow up learning the religious basics:  love God, love your neighbor, and do no harm.  It gives them a foundation from which to become responsible, ethical adults.  But more and more I see hateful rhetoric, name calling, and discrimination…all couched under the umbrella of religion.  Love your neighbor means every neighbor, not just the white neighbor, or the Christian neighbor, or the male neighbor, or the straight neighbor.  It means treating everyone the way you want to be treated.  It means giving everyone you meet your respect.
There are those who think that acceptance and legalization of same-sex unions or marriages will bring the downfall of America; that God, in his wrath, will strike us down like Sodom and Gomorrah.  I believe that the downfall of this nation will come not because we accept and legalize such unions, but because we don’t accept them.  We promote intolerance, and in doing so, we inflame division.  It is the division that will be our undoing. 
If the God we believe in created the universe and everything in it, then he doesn’t care if his creations are white, black, red, green, male, female, gay, straight, or in between.  He doesn’t care if they are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindi, Hari Krishna, Wiccan, Pagan, Agnostic, or Atheist.  God loves ALL his creations in their myriad of differences and in the wonders of their diversity.  Who are we to question God’s wisdom?  Who are we to harangue, berate, judge, disrespect, or condemn what God has created? 
Think about it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pop Tartillary

Just when you think things can’t get any more ludicrous, a 7-year-old kid is suspended from school because he "used food to make an inappropriate gesture."
What kind of gesture, you ask?  It must be pretty bad if he was suspended from school.  Did he chew his Pop Tart into the shape of a one-finger salute and wave it at the teacher?  Did he sculpt it into a phallic symbol, complete with a pair of gonads?  Did he carve it into a swastika? No.
He tried to make it into a mountain, and it ended up resembling a hand gun.  Was he threatening to shoot his classmates with his Pop Tartillary?  Again, no.
What we have is a very young, very artistic kid with a great imagination.  Undoubtedly, some school official or psychologist is going to brand this child as a future home-grown terrorist because the bites he took of his breakfast left a remnant of food that resembled a gun.  Even if he picked it up in gun fashion and pointed it, he was only doing what any 7-year-old kid would do.  There was no threat, there was no danger.  There was only pastry.
The only thing in that classroom in danger because of a half-eaten Pop Tart was the health of the kid who was eating it.
Zero tolerance policies have been shown, time and time again, to go well beyond their intended purpose when paranoid officials spin their interpretations. 
Then again, it was a "Pop" Tart...breakfast at its finest.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Musician vs. the Restauranteur

I know, I know.  It has been far too long since I managed to pound out a blog.  Life is what’s happening while you make other plans, or something of that ilk.  But I saw a post on Facebook today that made me want to stand up and scream YES! YES! YES!

A fellow musician and friend, Jim Snively, posted an image of a Craigslist ad and a response that I believe epitomizes one of the biggest cultural issues that exists today.
There is no value placed on the arts. 

Everyone has some God-given talent.  A gifted surgeon makes his living saving lives.  He gets paid handsomely to do his work.  A gifted architect makes his living designing structures.  He gets paid handsomely to do his work.  A gifted lawyer, a gifted financier, a gifted accountant, a gifted teacher, a gifted janitor…well you get the drift.  But gifted writers, artists, and musicians are expected to entertain others simply for the love of doing so? 

Unfortunately, that is the case.  Not all, but many establishments want you to entertain their customers and bring in more money for their coffers but want you to work only for tips.  Of course the customers are busy spending their money for food and drink and paying tips to waitresses and bartenders with the mistaken idea that the musicians are being PAID by the establishment to provide entertainment.

In the writing world, many magazines generously offer to “publish” your work for 10 copies of the publication.  In some cases, they want a 500-word article for $3.00.  You, the writer should be ever so grateful for the opportunity to have your work seen by the magazine’s readership…the readership that is paying for the magazine while assuming that the writers of the content are being PAID for their work.

Here’s a clue for all the clueless audiences out there.  Musicians, writers, and artists have bills to pay; they have to eat; they incur expenses creating, transporting, and providing such entertainment.  So when you enjoy that guy playing music at the restaurant, or bar, or coffee shop, please show your appreciation by tipping them.  What you put in that jar may be all they have to show for a night of commuting to and from home and then spending 2-3 hours sharing their talents with you.

And for all the clueless establishments, reread the Craigslist response above.  It applies to you.