Monthly Archives: June 2018

Carthago Delenda Est

This is in response to the removal of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from the children’s book award, but it extends to the way we teach history these days.

…..

I don’t care to read history, I find it depressing.  But it takes only a few hours with a book of ancient history to find out something common to humanity:  We’re not nice.  Nice cultures die.   The islanders who welcomed Columbus… you know what happened to them?  Tortured to find the rest of the gold that they generously offered to the sailors, enslaved, killed.

This is what humans do:

  • Find another tribe.
  • Evaluate their relative strength, geography, and ownership of desirable goodies
  • Trade with them if they’re equal/stronger
  • Take the stuff if they’re weaker

And when I say “take the stuff” I don’t usually mean, ‘we just came and asked for the goodies’ … although that’s been known to happen, if the tribe coming in is SO strong that the weaker tribe knows they can’t compete, mostly how this goes is:

  • Kill your adult males
  • Rape your females
  • Enslave the females and/or older children
  • Take the stuff
  • Destroy the rest

This tends to reduce the ability of the (now enemy) tribe to get revenge for how you just took their goodies.    It took Rome awhile to completely destroy Carthage – but that’s how that cycle of war ended.   Absolute destruction.

Sometimes folks just do raids.  Vikings on the Irish would be a classic example.  They just wanted goods and slaves, not land, not “winning”.  So they took them.

Oh.  Did someone mention that LAND is a goody?  So I might do that ’cause I want to expand my borders or you have a particularly nice feature.  (China and Japan are grumpy with one another right now over some islands with some nice features…. this isn’t a past-tense kind of reality).

Humans aren’t nice.   We want.  We kill.  We take.   Is that good?  No.  Is it Christian?  No.

All the surviving human cultures in this world have done this.   We’ve all killed, we’ve all enslaved, we’ve all tortured.  Don’t play pretend.  We ALL have done this.   How much of this we’ve done is a reflection of how long we’ve been around, and how strong we are.   We do this less now because we’re in trade agreements and have knives to each other’s throats.  We don’t want to look bad, it weakens our position.

So, how do you get nice people to do horrible things?   In the absence of direct threat or revenge, a great way to do it is to make the enemy sub-human.  “They are less than us”.  “They do icky stuff”.  Whatever.   This is called propaganda.    And again, every culture on earth has used propaganda to create prejudice and hatred.   Go find some WWII or WWI posters.   I have a couple of children’s books from 1980s China that are stuffed full of propaganda…

And if you don’t think there’s propaganda running rampant in 2018, you should probably take the blindfold off.    We ARE being encouraged to “other” people in our own countries.   It’s not good, people.

So.  In the LIW books, the family wanted to move to the Indian Territory… they were part of Manifest Destiny.  How do you get people to do that?  You tell them that the people who lived there weren’t really people.    They weren’t using the land “right”.  They had strange customs.  They were dangerous.  They didn’t wear the right clothes.  They were OTHER.

And the Ingalls, being people of their times, fell for it.  C’est fin.   Opportunity to make a new life, have independence, see new horizons… at a cost that was *very carefully* concealed from their consciousness.   They were told they were doing good things, and that’s what they believed.  We can **learn** from that.  Our children can learn from that.

We can **learn** from The White Man’s Burden, and how we have to “take care of” the lesser races.  (blech)  You know what that gave us?  Liberalism.  Putting my values on your head and patronizing you as a weaker person because you haven’t come ’round to my way of thinking – yet.   But you will…. and only if you have my advantages and don’t have my values do I consider you my enemy.

Othering people gave us Auschwitz’s “hospital” and the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.

Othering people is how we start wars, how atrocities happen.  “Those people aren’t my people”.

And humans have used that to get what we want since the dawn of time.  “They deserved it”.

Stop pretending any of us have hands free of blood.   Carthago delenda est.  And it didn’t get there by itself.

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Unfair Advantages

All decent parents spend their resources to improve their children’s chances of thriving.  Whether that’s money, time, skill… that’s just what decent parents do.   There can never be forced equality of parenting, because we humans will always do what we can to give our kids the best.

So, I’m totally pro giving my kids a leg up.   But I never wanted to give my kids a leg up by standing still and having the other kids’ foundations stolen.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/27/about-one-third-of-u-s-children-are-living-with-an-unmarried-parent/

I’m grateful for my husband for so many things, he’s a wonderful man and a great father.   I know everyone doesn’t have as great a dad as he is.  I know everyone doesn’t have as great a dad as I still have.  Or a great dad like DH’s dad was.

But not having a dad at all?   Ouch.

Anyway.  To all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day!   You matter.

Pharisee Choke-Collar

I have within me the tendency to be a Bratty Little Pharisee, and God has been relentless in His pruning away of those opportunities.

I do not enjoy the pruning process.

Phariseeism is the setting up of One True Way to go about doing life that isn’t straight from the Bible.  It’s over-and-above, in order to make life perfect or be perceived as a perfect person.   Phariseeism doesn’t necessarily stem from an evil impulse, and the things that we do to become Pharisees aren’t necessarily bad things – in fact, to be a true blue Pharisee, the over-and-above stuff has to be objectively good!

Example:  I spent my college years yearning for the day when I’d be married and a mom.  The subjects I chose to research, my daydreaming, all of it, oriented to having the Perfect Pregnancy/Birth/Nursing experience.   By the time (years later) when I had the opportunity to “start trying”, I did everything obsessively “right”.   But God didn’t intend for me to be a BLP.

I bled.  I got exhaustion.  I had life craziness.  That was bad enough… but then I couldn’t have the baby naturally.  Oh, I tried.  I tried hard enough that there were nurses gossiping in the corridor about “why was the doctor putting this poor woman through this?”  And then I tried to nurse and didn’t have enough milk.   I was BITTERLY disappointed.   That was my idol – a perfect pregnancy, a natural, no-pain-killer birth, nursing for ages…. and I did all the things that I could have done to make that happen, and it didn’t.

Why?  Well, there’s nothing wrong with anything I wanted, but there’s the rub – 1) it became an idol and 2) I was going to be absolutely unbearable… someone who said, “well THIS is the One Right Way”.   God wouldn’t allow it.

I’ve been wanting to go back to the land and be a prepper and a homesteader for decades now.  Still do.  But God hasn’t allowed it as of yet.  And for a good while, that was because it was (yes) an idol, but also because all the other Cool Christian Ladies were doing it.  I haven’t got a clue how being serious about your faith means you should can your own tomatoes, but … hey.   That was definitely a thing.

None of this stuff is BAD.    Being a crunchy, natural birthing mom with a pantry full of home-canned food is GOOD.  But it’s not God.   It’s too easy to make the stuff of this world into God.   It’s too easy to make the pursuit of earthly perfection into your reason for living.   It doesn’t have to be evil to get in the way of your relationship with the King.

I’ve had so many moments in my life where I’ve felt the bite of the choke collar … moments when I was going after something GOOD … but not something that God had planned for me.    I *never* understand in that moment.   Sometimes God’s had to yank hard and hurt me.   That’s okay, He’s the Master, and it is for my good.   It still hurts.

I’m grateful that God doesn’t allow me to be a Pharisee.  I would be, if it were up to me.

Why am I grateful?  Because when you become a Pharisee you put your idols between the world and God.   You hold up all the extra stuff and say, “this is how I’m good” and you don’t hold up Christ and say, “It’s His righteousness that I’m wearing – my own is rags”.

Stuff happens in life.   You don’t always get to live perfectly and according to your plan.  If you put your plans above your obedience to God, you’re going to screw your own heart up, and much worse, you’re going to make other folks think they have to be just like you to get into the kingdom of Heaven.   We in this time and place are so incredibly fortunate – we think we can make life perfect with just a few tweaks.  But life isn’t perfect.  It’s … life.  Heaven is perfect, and it’s Heaven that is our true home.

And I don’t want to imply through any of this that I don’t have an amazing life.  I’ve been blessed in so many ways.  I couldn’t count them all.  I am provided for and protected and sheltered and allowed to bloom.

…but if I could just tweak…

-laughter-

Beautiful Moment: Age Mix

A small thing that I am enjoying right now….  accessible to all!

I’m enjoying people of different ages.

I go to meetings on the first two Saturdays of the month.  The first Saturday is at church, and is my mentoring meeting.  The second Saturday is my sewing guild meeting.  On both Saturdays, I’m blessed with the company of women far older than I am – both groups include women in their 80s and 90s.   The wisdom and skill they bring to the table is incredible.

The teacher of the mentoring group is 91… she’s nearly blind, going deaf, and uses a walker.  But she uses her experience to teach others to mentor, mentors others, and is a gift to those around her.  Her perspective and sharing are a blessing.

The lady who arranged our use of the space we meet at ASG is 97.  She had a stroke this year and lost enough of her sight that she can’t sew on her machine anymore.  She still made a beautiful hand-embroidered feather… she’s going to make it into a purse.  And she’s a Christian sister with a heart of beauty.

There’s a lady at ASG who has sewn her whole life, created and traveled… she’s amazing.  On my to-do list this summer is to ask permission to visit her home (she’d offered once, and I couldn’t take her up on it at that time).  She wants to show off her art, and I’d like to appreciate it.  I already appreciate her skill – there’s pretty nearly nothing she can’t do with a needle and thread.  Weave, crochet, knit, embroider, mend… what did you say you wanted to know?

So, I enjoy the older ladies.

I go to a Crossfit gym where most of the members are young enough to be my kids.   They’re beautiful in their enthusiasm.   Watching them court one another, raise littles, pursue their young-adult ambitions, it’s a blessing.   It’s watching the world go ’round as it should.

I have teenagers.  It’s hard to be a teenager, as it’s always been – but I enjoy watching them mature.  I enjoy watching them grow and become the people that I am looking forward to having in my life forever.

I enjoy the ladies of my acquaintance who are 10 years older than I am, who have just finished the life stage I’m in.  They have so much to teach me.   I enjoy the company of ladies my own age, as we help one another along in the craziness that is life.

The world is a very beautiful place, it just takes eyes to see.  Pause for a moment, and look around.  You’ll be blessed.

Choice vs. Blessing

It would be useful if we could differentiate between the virtue inherent in our choices vs. our blessings.   I keep having the conversation with friends who don’t want to say that they’re intelligent so as not to be prideful.  That, IMO, is as silly as denying how tall you are.

It is good to be healthy.   How much of that is your genetic lottery, and how much of it is the product of your daily choices?   You can take credit for the latter.

It is good to be beautiful.  Most of physical beauty is genetic lottery, choices made by your forebears (particularly the nutritional choices that your mother made, and her mother before her), age, and circumstance.    Adornment and maintenance are your choices.

It is good to be smart.  Your choice to dull your mind or sharpen it, use your wits to improve the world or damage it – those are to your credit or not.  Your IQ was given to you.

There are many facets of life, and much of it was handed to you.  You’re not living in the slums of India digging through trash to find enough calories to keep you from starvation, and it’s not your virtue that made that difference.   God’s grace, the choices of generations past, etc, got you here.  Contrariwise, if you’re afflicted with a horrible illness or burdened by the results of sin-not-your-own, that’s not your choice either.

But we all have choice.   What will you do with what was given to you?  If you were given much, you are obliged to use it to honor God.  If you are given little, you are obliged to use it to honor God.  God is not honored simply in the end result, He is honored in your choice to bring what you have to Him.

So please stop lying about what you were given.  Instead, look at it as a solemn obligation.