Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Losing Faith

Despite what most people assume when they meet me, I am a person of great faith and hidden optimism. There are rarely situations where I sit back and assume the worst. Be it the person that I didn't support winning an election or a vote going a way that I didn't prefer, I usually just assume that everything will work itself out. I am believer that our politicians do (for the most part) have this country's best interest at heart, and while I support my opinions with gusto... even if I lose, I assume that everything will be alright in the end. But, after a week of political movement in my home state of Indiana, I am faced with the feeling that maybe all my faith and optimism were misguided. Maybe it's not really ever going to be OK.

I don't know if politics are changing or if I am just paying attention for the first time, but I am left confused and for the first time, really nervous about where we are going. First, our town offered a referendum raising property taxes an almost negligible amount in order to fund the community school corporation after the government slashed their budget. Alternatives to the tax money is firing teachers therefore increasing class size, cutting programs decreasing exposure to our children and God knows what else. I supported the tax hike. I support our schools. I support my kids. I support my property values, which increase with the quality of the school district. And I was in the minority. A tiny minority.

Now, I am not naive. I get that the schools could manage money better, and I demand that they do so. But, money management cannot make up the difference alone. And now I sit back and I fear what is to come. I question whether or not Will is going to have art, music and PE and if Tabbi will keep her straight As if she isn't in a class with a teacher and a teacher aide that give her a lot of attention. Will she be swallowed up in a 45 kid classroom with one teacher? What's next for our education system and why oh why is that not one of the most critical concerns of our citizens, local or federal government? Our kids are free falling compared to other countries and yet we've slashed the money and turned our backs hoping that our overworked, underpaid teachers can somehow maintain their standards. How can they? 65% or more of this town just basically told them that it sucks to be them, and good luck with nothing... and yet we say, "but you still better make my kid a genius." Head's up, people... you don't get it both ways.

Then yesterday, my state's governor made national news by slashing funding yet again. This time to Planned Parenthood, an organization whose purpose is to provide health screenings, prenatal care, and birth control options to the disenfranchised. The federal government decided not to make good on their threats, so our local guy decided to step in and take care of the evil beast that is free medical screenings and education. I realize that they also do the A word, but this isn't about that. I can admit that I am not pro-A word, but I can also admit that it isn't my place to decide whether or not you are. But, I can also open my eyes and ears and see that the money Governor Mitch "Hates Women" Daniels just cut doesn't go toward those anyway. So, like them or not, they aren't a part of this conversation.

He cut the money that goes to the 16 year old girl who thinks that she may have an STD and is too afraid to tell her parents or go to her family doctor. But, thanks to Mitch, she can just suffer and spread it. It goes to the 22 year old young woman with a drug problem, whose mother is already raising one grandchild because she knows enough to see that she can't. So the woman's one responsible act is when she goes every month to Planned Parenthood for birth control shots. Thanks to Mitch, she can just get pregnant over and over again. It goes to the 36 year old woman having horrible cramps and no health insurance, and her free pap smear just showed that it's cancer. Thanks to Mitch, it can go undetected and she can die. And, it goes to the teenage couple with the raging hormones, who know all about abstinence but are contemplating having sex, and they need to know their options when it comes to the realities of life... that right or wrong, they probably are not going to wait until they are married and therefore need to be effectively educated on disease and pregnancy prevention. But, thanks to Mitch, they are left without any education, and open to unwanted pregnancy and even worse, HIV or AIDS.

I sit here and no longer feel assured that everything is going to be OK. Our country has real problems, and my state and town are no different. It is going to take real solutions to fix it, not sticking our head in the sand and hoping that schools just somehow find a way to get funded, and underprivileged women miraculously avoid getting diseases. I feel like our heads have been in the sand long enough, and maybe.... just maybe... it's time to face some problems head on and actually find an answer. Maybe it's time to inspire a little faith in our government again. Maybe it really is time for a change...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Keeping Up With the Joneses

I have an admission to make... I don't keep up with the Joneses. I don't keep up with the Smiths or the Farouks either. In fact, I pretty much keep up with no one, and you know what? I think that's OK.

Here's one of my many dirty little secrets. I don't have a smart phone. I have a phone that is red, makes and receives calls and even sends and receives texts. It doesn't do a whole lot more than that. Well, I guess it takes pictures.... but it doesn't send them anywhere, and it sure doesn't take quality shots that make me look like Heidi Klum, so what's the point? And, I have no apps at all. I can't buy movie tickets at the press of a button or GPS my way out of downtown if I get lost. I can only make a phone call. And you know what? That suits me just fine.

Here's another secret... I don't have an iPod either. Not an iPod Touch, Nano or even skittle (or whatever those little ones are called). The closest thing to an iPad that I have is a pad of paper. It's mine, therefore it's my iPad. I don't laptop, I don't gadget and I don't want to. I am typing on my desktop with my actual paper calendar with actual ink on it behind me. And you know what? I manage to survive in my slightly better than Amish lifestyle.

Despite my lack of techy prowess (or desire), I am confronted on a near daily basis about people's fancy stuff. They got the new iPhone Whatchamacallit that actually vacuums floors while doing your taxes. Not only that, they upgraded to a million inch flat screen 3D TV that shows movies while they are being filmed. No more waiting for it to hit the theaters. The picture's so good, you can see the pimples on Julia's face! Huzzah!!! And thanks to the advanced 3D technology, you can reach right out and pop it! They just bought the new quatro hydra minivan that runs on hamster farts and is the hottest thing in automobiles and don't get me started on the house buying, yard keeping nonsense. I grow dandelions. Hundreds of them. Beat that!

It has become ingrained in our culture that not only should we throw all our pennies at any material thing we want, but we must do so in such a way that it is flaunted at all of our neighbors and friends. It is not enough to own the iPhone with the dishwasher app, but we must present it at the next PTO meeting so that all the mothers with dish pan hands may drool over it. Luckily, there's an app to wipe off the drool smears or we might start to question this practice.

So, be aware all you Joneses and Smiths and Farouks out there, and all you owners of techy stuff and bigger and better things than I have..... I am a Lynn. No one has to worry about keeping up with me, and believe me... I've got better things to do than worry about keeping up with you. After all... there's no app in the world that will keep up with these children I've got, and until there is... I'm not buying.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Former Hippy

My name is Lynn, and I used to be a hippy. There. I said it. True story and I earned the street cred to back it up. I was heavily involved with Amnesty International in college, even serving as the Co-President of the Kansas State University chapter for a year. I earned many a callus from writing anti-death penalty appeals to virtually every lawmaker in the country. But, I learned something last night as President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden was killed.... I'm not that hippy girl anymore.

I am not proud of my change of attitude, but I am willing to admit it is true. Other people, my wise and better hearted brother for one, immediately pointed out that if you believe in the sanctity of life, then no death should be celebrated. I wholeheartedly agree, but yet in my heart... I celebrate. Mark Twain once said, "I've never wished a man dead, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." And, I will admit it.... that's how I feel. Not proud, but honest....

I read about man on the east coast whose son was brutally murdered in the 70s. The killer is set to be released from prison soon, and the father went on a national morning show and announced that he will kill that murderer if he sees him on the street. Not a threat.... a promise. And, I have to say... though I am not proud of it, I sided with that dad. I could have those same feelings if someone came near my babies. I am not right... but I would feel justified.

In any case, while I am not glad for the death of this human being, I think his death can promote some healing for this country. Ten years ago, this country suffered a great tragedy and I pray that this man's death will allow for some of that pain to subside. And if it does.... this evil man deserved it. He had it coming. And I'm not sad.