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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Depression, Understanding, and Walsh

Matt Walsh wrote something today. 

To many of the people in my news feed, that alone is enough to rev up some animosity. And yes, I'm going to talk a bit about Matt Walsh - but bear with me.

Because today, Matt Walsh wrote something that I myself could have penned just a few short years ago.

He wrote about Robin Williams, who tragically took his own life yesterday. He said that suicide, when you really strip it down, is a choice, not a disease. It is always selfish, it is never freeing, and it damages loved ones as well.

(He said those things in many more words, but that's the gist of it.)

And as I said before, just a few years ago I could easily have written something similar. I have had bad days in my life, as everyone has. I have had bad weeks, bad months. I have gone through seasons during which I may have even said that I was depressed.

But I have never awakened to the feeling that in order to get to the breakfast table I would first have to claw myself out from the depths of an endless abyss. I have never looked at my children and imagined how much better their lives would be if they didn't have a screw-up like me as a parent. I don't know the helplessness of believing that someone's life might be improved if I were dead. I can't fathom the depths to which one must sink to feel these things.

In the past few years, however, I have spent time with and grown to love very deeply several people who have felt those things. I have come to understand that the way one sees reality under the influence of depression is akin to the way one might see when under the influence of alcohol or anything else - the difference being that an alcoholic chooses to drink, and a junkie chooses to score. 

Someone who is truly depressed cannot be expected to accurately remember good times, because even if there were truly good times, everything they now see is colored by the depression. 
Telling them they must choose to wait because good times will come again means nothing. All they see is the torture they are currently enduring and perhaps something slightly less torturous that may (but probably won't) come in some distant eventuality. 
Telling them they must make an effort to be happy is like asking a blind man to drive a car. 
"But I can't drive a car. I can't see the road." 
LOOK HARDER. 
"Are you INSANE?"

To quote a friend (@Lembas_n_coffee):

Suicide is a choice. Of course it is. Everything we do is a choice. The thing about suicide and depression is that it's a choice we make with faulty information. Because depression says there's no help, no one cares, you're just a burden. Depression lies. So choosing suicide with depression is like choosing which groceries to buy when you're starving. You'll make choices, they'll just be bad ones. 
 Say what you want about suicide being selfish and damaging to loved ones. Most people would agree with those things. But to someone who cannot see clearly anything beyond the borders of the abyss in which he resides, those things become secondary to the Herculean effort required simply to continue breathing. 

Although I honestly wish that I did not know people who have lived in that abyss, I am grateful for their patience in helping me to better understand it from the outside. For that reason, although I think at least in this case Matt Walsh has it wrong, I can understand the difficulty he may have in writing about this subject if he himself has never faced it in person.


Monday, July 21, 2014

The Mark of a Conservative: a Sandwich Board, Not a Sandwich

Conservatives. We are not all the same. We do not all look the same. We do not all act the same way. We do not all defend conservatism in the same manner. And thank God that we don't.

Today, "M Catherine Evans" offers what she seems to believe is a scathing criticism of conservatives - namely Glenn Beck, Dana Loesch, Rep Louie Gohmert, and Sen Ted Cruz - who had the gall to offer humanitarian aid to illegal children. She criticizes their efforts in helping to feed and clothe the children who are being used as political pawns, and why? Because they weren't standing on overpasses holding anti-immigration signs.

Wait, what? You mean that if every conservative in America did nothing but stand on overpasses with signs we would win? If you believe that, I'd like to offer you a great deal on the overpass upon which you so valiantly protest.

Don't get me wrong: there is a time and a place for protests. I have participated, along with my children. So have *gasp* Dana Loesch, Glenn Beck, and I'd imagine the same goes for Sen Cruz and Rep Gohmert.

But let's think about this in broader terms.

Government in general wants one thing: to grow.  Government can grow larger in two basic ways. First, it can usurp power. We see that in the passage and support of laws like the Affordable Care Act, Executive Orders that are designed to circumvent Congress, and other extra-Constitutional actions taken by the government. And second, we the People can cede power. We can vote for people who we know will take actions that will limit liberty and grow government. We can vote for laws that restrict the freedoms of others because we don't like the way they exercise those liberties (gun control, for example). Or we can criticize those who engage in private charity because we don't like the charity they choose to support.

Conservatives in general want one thing: smaller, more limited government. We can restrict the growth of government in several ways as well. First, we can vote for people and initiatives that either stop the growth or shrink the size of government. And second, we can use private charity to limit the need for government growth. 

You'll notice that I did not at any point mention "standing on overpasses with signs."

When private entities offer humanitarian aid, they eliminate the need for government to drain resources from taxpayers. And make no mistake, the federal government wants nothing more than to drain those resources from taxpayers. 

Tell me, M Catherine Evans, do you really believe that the government would send those children back? Do you believe that the government would hesitate to take your money to feed them? When Dana Loesch went to the border, she went on her own time and her own money. When Glenn Beck went to the border, he went with his own money and the money from his own private charity. When Rep Gohmert and Sen Cruz went to the border, they went because it is their home state which is being overrun invaded. How many of them took your money to support their efforts? Dare I say NONE of them? Why do you believe you have the right to criticize what they choose to do with their own time and money? That's not conservatism that's progressivism.

If you choose to support conservatism by standing on an overpass with a sign, then by all means, do so. But realize that there is a need for conservatives who are willing to fight the battles on the ground, and let them do it. Because if they don't, recognize that your posterboard and sharpie fund will be next on the block when the government takes over the charity for us.

Oh, and I almost forgot: #amnestysandwiches

Friday, June 6, 2014

Dear President Obama: Stop it.

Mr. President,

This past week, in defense of a questionable (ok, mind-bogglingly illegal) prisoner transfer, you mentioned the letters you get from military parents asking you to make sure their children are safe. While I doubt the veracity of that claim - I know quite a few military parents, and they generally have more faith in their soldiers than in their politicians - I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

I am a former soldier. I am the daughter of a soldier (Operation Enduring Freedom), the niece of a soldier (Vietnam), and the granddaughter of soldiers (World War II). I am also a parent of children who are too young yet to be soldiers. But I do feel that there are a few things I must ask of you, since you are clearly taking requests.

In reality, it all boils down to one simple thing: please stop helping me.

Please stop helping me get "better healthcare." In the four years since I left the military, I have paid out of pocket for all of my family's healthcare needs. Under your new healthcare plan, I will pay more in premiums over the course of one year than I paid in the last four years with no insurance at all - and that's before I even get started chipping away at the deductible.

Please stop helping my kids get a "better education." I don't care if you do think that Che Guevera was a hero, the Boston Tea Party was an act of terrorism, and that the Warren Court didn't go far enough. I prefer my history straight and unencumbered by the baggage of  a political agenda. While you're at it, please stop helping with higher education as well.

Please stop helping my kids get "better nutrition." I realize this is more your wife's doing than yours, but since I've already started, I might as well keep going. I may not be a nutritionist (but unless I am mistaken, neither is the First Lady) but since the dawn of man, mothers have successfully nourished children without the "benefit" of government mandate. I intend to continue that tradition, thanks.

Please stop trying to keep my children safe. If your method - banning all guns - worked, then a petite woman like myself would not be taking a risk walking through downtown Chicago at night. Since that is not the case, I think I would prefer to retain the right and ability to defend myself - with firearms if necessary.

But most importantly, please stop interfering in the lives and careers of our men and women in uniform. Stop pretending that you care about them beyond their potential to be your political props. Stop meddling in affairs that are better handled by people who have the training and ability to organize something more tactical than political rallies and bake sales. I'm sorry. Healthy snack sales.

Thank you for your consideration. I expect you will give these matters the attention they deserve once you finish covering your ass. Good luck with that, by the way.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

What it means to be a veteran.

“I am an American soldier. I am a warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the Army values. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade. I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in all my warrior tasks and drills. I am an expert and I am a professional. I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat. I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life. I am an American soldier.”
When I went through training in 1999, that was a thing. The soldier’s creed. We knew it by heart inside of the first week. And when I say we knew it “by heart,” I don’t mean we had it memorized – although we did. I mean we knew it, we understood what it meant, and our actions backed it up. We lived the Army values. Loyalty. Duty. Respect. Selfless service. Honor. Integrity. Personal courage.
We stayed up past lights out making sure that our boots were shined (this was back in the days of black boots). We helped each other with extra sit-ups and push-ups to boost our platoon PT scores. We policed our own. “Code Reds” were not as drastic or dangerous as they were in “A Few Good Men,” but they happened. When your battle buddy got dropped, you got down next to him and took the same punishment.
Today’s soldiers have been exposed to what the Army calls “low stress training.” And they’re losing their minds in war zones because they have been coddled and cajoled through training.
Every day in training drill sergeants told us about the enemy. “They want you dead,” they told us. “They want your families dead. They want your friends dead. They will march their victory parade through your blood before it is dried from the streets.”
Today’s soldiers get lessons that include the Founding Fathers and participants at the Boston Tea Party as examples of terrorists and extremists.
And when they come home, the landscape has changed as well. When I left the Army for the first time in 2004 (I went back in 2005), I went looking for a job in retail. The interviewing manager found out I was a veteran. He told me that there were two other girls who had applied for the same position, and neither of them had served. He then said that if he knew nothing else about us, that would be enough. He stopped the interview then and offered me the job. Being a veteran used to mean something. It was like being an Eagle Scout. When employers found out that you had spent time in the military, they knew something about you. They knew your work ethic and your willingness to work as part of a team or lead one, whichever the situation called demanded. They knew your values and your convictions, and how you would perform under stress.
But today, as evidenced by National Guard Specialist Kayla Reyes’ experience with an interviewing manager at Macy’s, being a veteran can be a liability. Why is it that the public views soldiers in such a different light? Personally, I blame Jane Fonda. Well, not her alone, but the people like her who bought into the propaganda and misinformation regarding American soldiers at war – particularly in places like Vietnam. I blame the 9/11 truthers who blame terrorist actions on Americans protecting access to resources. I blame the Ron Paul/Henry Wallace isolationists who try to convince people that power-hungry authorities like Stalin and Putin only attempt to grab for power because America involves itself in alliances and treaties. And I blame the American people who know better and fail to say so.

When the manager at Macy’s learned that SPC Reyes had served in Afghanistan, she should have thanked her rather than questioning her ability to fit in. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Government Owns Your Kittens. Seriously.

Before you get your knickers in a twist, I am not going to say that the Arizona law that caused all the ruckus should or should not have been vetoed. I will say that John McCain's insistence on a veto makes me think the law at least held a modicum of merit, but that's another rabbit hole to jump down altogether.

But this is not the first time this subject has come to the forefront, and if recent history is any indication, it won't be the last. By "this subject" I mean the notion that business owners can be forced to provide services or goods. The media wants it to be about the First Amendment. The left wants it to be about First Amendment. And we are catering to them at every turn, arguing that the business owner has the right to free expression and exercise of religion. All that is true, but that's not all that is true.

So let me ask you this: Do you own anything? Do you own a house? A car? A piece of furniture? A cat? Imagine for a minute that you do own a cat, and that cat has kittens. You take those kittens in a basket to a local park and post a sign that says, "Free kittens, but only if you aren't a ginger." Yeah, I know, that's stupid. It's bigoted. (It also made me giggle.) But that's not the point.

Should the government be allowed to force you to give your kittens to a ginger? And if the government can force you to give your kittens to a ginger - or anyone else - against your will, were those kittens ever really yours? Or did they belong to the government, with you simply acting as the middleman?

Now imagine you own a business. Everything you produce or sell is your individual property unless and until you choose to sell it. If the government can force you to sell it at a time or to a person that is not of your choosing, how can that property truly be yours? If your right to own and control your personal property IS NOT ABSOLUTE, then you DON'T OWN IT AT ALL. 

But they're not really criticizing you. They're criticizing liberty.

Sneaky, isn't it, the way they tell you it's bigotry if you don't give your liberty away? The way they try to tell you that your religious freedom doesn't trump someone else's civil rights. (By the way, it does - go check out which one is enumerated in the Constitution and get back to me if you don't believe me.) The way they tell you that you're small-minded and hateful if you don't believe in the agenda they happen to be championing.

They don't like liberty because it's dirty. It's offensive. It's crude, loud, obnoxious, and frankly, dangerous. Because when people have liberty, they often use it to do things that you don't like. They say things that offend you. They choose not to cater weddings that you believe should happen. And (merciful heavens, no) they take the Constitution at its literal word when they go about protecting their homes and their families. 

But the tricky thing about liberty is that if you remove the dirt and the danger, it CEASES TO BE. 

For people to be free, they MUST retain the freedom to offend others. For people to have liberty, they MUST have the liberty to defend themselves, violently if necessary. For business owners to have the same freedom as the gay couple who can choose whether or not to patronize their establishment, they must have the freedom to turn down business from ANYONE at ANY TIME.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

To Rage or Not to Rage

So. That pesky Coca-Cola ad. Was it beautiful? Was it outrageous? Was it only the racist and bigoted who found it offensive? Was the offense manufactured?

I didn't have much of a reaction to it myself. Granted, I didn't even see it until I googled it after the Super Bowl was over - mostly to see what all the fuss was about. And to tell the truth, after the hype generated and the outrage claimed, I felt that it was a little anti-climactic. Maybe that's just because, having cut our cable in 2009, I just don't have the exposure to commercials that I used to have. But then again...

Maybe it's because I haven't spent 5-10 years and most of my savings in an effort to become an American through proper channels.

Maybe it's because I am so very many generations removed from, "Son, we are Americans. We speak American now," spoken haltingly, but with immeasurable pride.

Maybe it's because I don't live in one of the growing number of American cities that are in real danger of a "press 2 for English" situation.

Maybe it's because I watched it without connecting it to the fact that we are about to be force-fed amnesty, and without thinking about the fact that the war begins in culture. Yeah, that's right: the war begins in...commercials. Was Coca-Cola soft-selling amnesty packaged as patriotism+diversity? Maybe. I didn't make that connection while I was watching it, but I bet someone out there did.

So I personally wasn't outraged. There are so many other things currently happening that are deserving of outrage that frankly, I didn't have time to add Coca-Cola to the list. But I'm not willing to dismiss the validity of the outrage felt by others. Yes, in the end we choose what outrages us. But there are occasions when outrage is a valid choice.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

No Favors Here


At first glance, this is amusing. As women, we like to think that we are the absolute end, the bees knees, etc. We revel in the notion that we don't need men to give us worth (which is true), and the idea that we give them worth (not true) is extremely attractive. Statements like this one allow us to feel that we are simply giving our role the importance society denies us, but in reality it opens the door for us to overestimate our own traditional roles at the expense of the equally important roles that the men in our lives play.

So I call BS. The man who asks for a woman's hand in marriage is absolutely, unequivocally, without a shred of doubt doing that woman a favor. Why? Because, in a society where women are almost expected to do most of those things for free, the man who asks is making the following promises:
I will give you my name, because when people see me I want them to see you as well. 
When you get fat, I will still love you. I will not stop loving you if you retain water or develop cankles.
When you bear my children, I will not just give them my name. I will also give them my love, my Saturday mornings, and my help with their homework. And if they are girls, I'll buy a shot gun the day they are born.
When you lay down with me, I will respect you in the morning. And every morning for the rest of my life.
So I ask you ladies out there to please STOP. Stop treating your husbands like you have done them a favor by saying yes. No one did anyone any favors. You made a deal, witnessed by family and friends. You entered into a covenant ordained by God, an equal partnership. Stop treating them like they owe you something more than their love, commitment, and respect - and take the time to remember that you promised them those same things.