Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sarah Palin and Witches

This morning I was reading a news article about Governor Palin's church in Wasilla, Alaska. Seems to be quite the conservative, Pentecostal, "we must convert you in order to save you" kinda place. In fact, as Governor she gave a speech to a class of newly minted missionaries (you know, those who are destined to go forth and convert the rest of the poor world to their one and only TRUE religion) telling them "that our leaders, that our national leaders, are sending [soldiers] out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we are praying for -- that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."

Well, I suppose it's reassuring to some to think that this unwarranted, illegal mass murder going on in Iraq is God's plan. That then makes it all okie dokie and we can sleep well at night knowing we're only murdering in the name of God ....... oh yes, and to keep us safe from those nasty Iraqis (Muslims, you know .... can't trust 'em).

Now don't get me wrong here ...... I have absolutely nothing against praying, meditating, concentrating or just plain giving life a lot of focused thought. As far as I'm concerned, their God IS my God in a roundabout sort of way ...... even though I see spirituality in a bit of a different light. You see, my Goddess does not tell me to go out and murder people. She doesn't speak in tongues (unless you consider the loving sounds of nature to be tongues) and in fact has never instructed me to go about any type of violence. Given that, perhaps my God is a different Goddess from theirs. At least her attitude is different.

But I digress, as that discussion will be a different BLOG.

What I got to thinking about this morning was the far right wing fervor over this Pentecostal Mrs. who was chosen as the Republican running mate to "the maverick." What makes us in any way assume that her (and her church's) type of thinking is anything but WAY over the line, off the board, and into The Twilight Zone any less than say, the Moonies (remember them?), the Hale-Bopp Comet followers (I hope they're up there somewhere) or our Haitian neighbors who dance with snakes and stick needles in dolls? The difference is that there are more of the Evangelicals ....... many more.

Before you jump to conclusions, know that I believe that there is validity in almost every choice of religion. I believe that there is a high power. For me that power is nature itself. Can you imagine anything which is at the same time much larger than any one of us and yet still reactive to the actions of all mankind?

Mama Nature amazes me every single day. Today I am loving her choice of gentle rain, dark skies and contemplative mood. She tells me what I can do on any given day (if I don't wish to get soaked): work in the garden, stay indoors and read by the fire, sweat like a marathon runner or bundle up in my fuzzy knee boots. On the other hand, we have made her quite angry and she is reacting in response to our overuse of modern day technology by giving us warmer temperatures, increased rain, more tornadoes, flooding and more and harsher hurricanes. Yes, I am willing to take responsibility for our part in this weather transition and think that THIS is what our leaders should be talking about: the reality of the world's climate change and what we can do about it, rather than leaving it to our children and grandchildren to fix once nature's wrath has gone to much higher levels and they are left to suffer the consequences of our actions.

Once again I digress. Here's my point (and thank you, Ellen, I do have one). What if we put a nature-based believer into office. Someone you might call a Pagan or a Wiccan or a Witch. Someone like me who believes that there is a higher force in everything: within every human being, in the animals, plants and every living thing. How would this person be received by the masses? Would we find ourselves with another Pope Gregory IX, burning people at the stake because they did not believe that the Christian God was the ONLY God allowed? Just how enlightened are we today, I'm left wondering, if our separation of church and state is so defunct that we have this Evangelical Christian running for the second highest office in the country and thinking that the Iraq war is "God's war"?

I am scared by this woman. You may laugh, but it's true. I am scared by anyone in a potential leadership position who wants to tell me what God I should believe in, what God is telling us to do, and what choices I need to make with my very own body and soul. THAT is terrifying. THAT is what we came to this country to escape, is it not? Well, that and drinking tea and paying taxes all the time.

We already have the taxes, which will increase substantially in order to pay for this debacle of an Iraq war. Do we want to add a Religious Dictator to the mix, also?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Lesson in Toilet Hubris

Upon returning from Harley Fest in Milwaukee (but that's another BLOG), I discovered that my toilet wasn't flushing properly. After waiting two days to see if my hubby was going to notice this all on his own (he didn't), I ASKED if he had noticed the problem. He hadn't.

Of course I found myself mildly irritated because when things go wrong in our home, shouldn't my husband automatically notice and immediately fix them? I readily admit that my early lessons on what men do came from my Dad, and he was Mr. Fix-It. Mr. Can-Do. Mr. Done-It-Already and Did-It-Right. My brother didn't fall far from that tree, so I figure that all men are like that. And generally when I figure that way I figure wrong.

But I digress. Rather than be mad at my husband for not noticing and fixing, I decided to take the job on myself, plumber that I'm not. So when in town taking my Mother on her errands and out to lunch I stopped at one of those enormous home supply stores and checked out all the new toilet handles available. Zowee - what a nice array of incredibly cheap ($4.29 for cheap plastic just like the one that broke) all the way up to $15.50 for the best.

I decided that since I was going to fix this myself I would get the best, most expensive one. It WAS the nicest looking, after all, and just accidentally happened to match the sink faucet handles rather well. I'll take credit for that happenstance but I hadn't planned it, as I forgot to remind myself what the sink faucets looked like before going into town to get the new parts. Don't you just love it when an accident turns out well?

Upon returning to the ranch that night I started my new toilet job. Figured this would be a piece of cake. After all, I only had to unscrew the current, broken flush handle (which I had completely broken, by the way, trying to fix it in the first place) and screw on the new one. Easy, right?

Nope. The old part was one of those incredibly cheap things made completely from plastic. This would be why it didn't last long in the first place. First it wore to the point of bending and when I straightened it, it broke off entirely.

So I start to unscrew the piece inside the tank that holds the toilet handle on. Nothing. Won't move. I get a pliers. Still nothing. It turns, but does not release. I keep wrangling with the pliers, turning this thing, and it simply will NOT release the toilet handle. Nothing goes anywhere. I get angrier and more frustrated. I call my husband, telling him how frustrated I am and asking if he had replaced this part already at some point (imagining that it MUST be his fault for putting this part on too tightly). I don't say so, but I know he can hear in my voice that somehow, some way, this must all be his fault for not fixing it in the first place or at the very least, doing it wrong sometime in the past.

Finally I decide, after trying a dozen more times to release the dang nut (not my husband ..... the toilet handle), to go to bed and sleep a frustrated sleep over my attempts to complete what should have been an easy task.

So, you know how you have those light bulb moments occasionally just as you're waking up? Must have been bubbling around in your settled down mind overnight and if you're lucky, it bubbles up again during your morning grogginess just before getting out of bed.

So here it comes: my great idea. My light bulb moment. My AHA! I only turned the nut on the toilet handle one way. What if I was supposed to turn it the OTHER way to release the handle? Hmmmm. Obvious. Stupid. Moronic. HUBRIS!

The toilet handle had just taught me a great lesson. The worst part is that I've learned this one before, but obviously it has not stuck with me well enough to cease repetition. One of my life lessons was obviously meant to be to stop assuming. Stop assuming that someone else should do it. Stop assuming that possibly someone else ALREADY did it and must have done it wrong. Stop assuming that it's not my responsibility. Stop assuming that it is someone else's responsibility to fix a toilet which I use as much as they do. Stop assuming that every man is or should be like my Dad; we're all different, with often equally good and negative qualities, just different good and negative qualities. Just plain stop assuming!

To this end I am aware that to assume means making judgments. Making judgments based on our past experiences (sometimes a worthy thing to do, but not always), making judgments biased by our own early life learning experiences (often a rather nastily ingrained and unfortunate trait), making judgments in general as the starting point of our thinking rather than its final resting place. Each single experience often needs to be what brings us to our final judgment of that experience, not some preconceived and often erroneous assumption.

Who knew that a toilet tank could be so instructive?

Just in case you doubt my ability to plumb ...... or to learn ....... here are pics of the finished product:

My kitty bath, full of original black kitty art, is happy once again.