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11:12 a.m. - 2013-04-10
In seeking shut-eye I got an eye-opener.

I haven't been sleeping well for the past couple weeks. Broken sleep mostly. I sleep for 2-3 hours then wake up needing to pee, or I'm boiling hot and gasping for air, or a bad dream got me. Not complaining, just explaining how I came to be watching a TV bible lesson in the pre-dawn of this morning. My favorite trick for getting back to sleep is to find something on the droning side but interesting enough to pay attention to so I can settle and focus my mind to be still enough to sleep again. Science channel's 'How It's Made' is perfect for this. When I am commissar of the entire world I'll decree that 'How It's Made' has to be on 24/7. With new episodes, mind you, I've seen the one on how to make Swiss cow bells and heated hockey skates at least 15 times already. This morning there was no 'How It's Made' and I flipped channels until I saw a kindly looking guy giving a bible lesson to a roomful of older people. Not a sermon, no begging for money, just a discussion of the gospel of Peter. Specifically those verses dealing with The Golden Rule. Okey-doke, I was down with that. And for a while the lesson went on just fine. The guy's reading out snippets and translating them from Bible into everyday English explaining how respect is the name of the game. Bosses need to respect and care for their workers. People need to respect the government even if it's not perfect. Then he says, "Even though you have to go out among the liberals, the pagans, and the godless who work every day to tear down our churches and destroy us..."

WHAT??? Dude, where did that come from? Seriously? The closest this godless liberal ever came to destroying a church was during a game of 'hide and seek' and I accidentally smushed some day lily sprouts when I hid behind the signboard of the First Methodist.

I thought it was truly sad. Here was a guy supposedly teaching a lesson on tolerance and respect and he let fly with something as ugly and hateful as that. Real breezy about it too. Like this was just how it was. La la la la. The freezing point of water is 32 degrees. Lions eat gazelles. Liberals, pagans, and the atheists destroy Christians.

No wonder they hate us if this is the message they're steeped in all the time. What a waste and a shame.

On the topic of seeing things with kinder eyes, when I was in high school I assumed I'd go to college. All my friends would go to college too. If my buds weren't in honors classes with me they were at least in the Regents level classes and tracked toward getting the upper diploma and in the fall after we graduated would go off to university. It was a given. Water freezes at 32 degrees, etc, etc. I knew there were other kids who attended the same high school as I did, kids with no ambition for college. Kids who'd bumble along, scrape by enough to get a local diploma and then spend the rest of their lives doing some lowly job where they got dirty and wore a shirt with their name on it. Some of those kids with that 'name on their shirt' future took morning classes at our school then at lunchtime would get on a bus and be taken to Podunkville and the county trade school. I didn't know a single one of them by name. Those trade school kids were 'other'. And in my youthful arrogance they were 'less'. Poor doomed things who'd marry a second cousin, live in a trailer, and have lank-haired offspring that always looked grimy and had poor dental hygiene.

I swear to you that's what a snob I was. I didn't know it then, all I knew was what I'd been told. My assumptions came from being steeped in educational snobbery. Nice people, the 'good' people went to college. The ones who didn't were not to be trusted. We don't know them at all. Done deal. I told Mick it's a good thing he lived in New Jersey when we were kids because if somehow he and I had met as teenagers I wouldn't have given him the time of day. This despite his being cute and wearing glasses and that he drove a VW (all on my hot list). Why? Because he went to a vocational high school. I would have flinched back from him like he had ringworm, leprosy and head lice.

Know where I'm going tonight? To an open house at that very same county trade school I scorned all those years ago. Why? Because my son will be going there in the fall to begin his studies as a chef. Wolf is enrolling in the culinary arts program and I am thrilled.

In the years between being a snotty 16 year old and my (wiser and hopefully a little kinder) 50 year old self my path brought me to lots of places. Met all kinds of people. Got some experience in the real world and left my university ivory tower behind. I raised Alex with the assumption he would go to college, of course I did, but because I believed an education for its own sake is a good thing. Still do. His father has a college degree, and guess what? To this day Mike wears his name on his shirt. The sheepskin was nice to have but his degree in geology was never how he made his living. Alex, too, has a diploma, but until recently he managed a Friendly's restaurant. He pulled a triple major in music theory, education, and philosophy and now he sells insurance and retirement plans. He's still educated in all those fine things but I'll stack his morals and compassion against his trade school attending little brother's and you know who'll come out on top.

Anyway, my point is that when I was young I was taught a limited and erroneous view of the world. I was told that only the people who were exactly like me were the good ones. I heard it over and over- the others were wrong. They were different and not to be trusted. As good ones we should pity the others and we should be polite, but we didn't date them and we sure as hell didn't marry and make children with them! They were nothing like us! They were ignorant. And as ignoranties of course they had evil intentions. Duh! They couldn't be decent and kind and loving! They weren't like us! We had a lock on the one right way to live.

Sorry to drive my point home with a sledgehammer, but the parallels between my former mindset and that casually hateful Bible teacher this morning shocked me. I keep thinking about how easy it is to make assumptions when those you trust to teach and guide you fill your head with garbage. When your view is carefully limited and unless life knocks you sideways and opens your eyes to the bigger picture how easy it is to stay with those erroneous beliefs.

I admit my first feeling was anger. I was really ticked to hear me and mine be so mistrusted and accused of evil. However, I've had time to calm down and think on it. And instead of punching his lights out I'd like to have that teacher over for tea. And if he were willing to listen I'd tell him a story. A story about a girl who was taught to believe ugly unhappy things about 'others' and how through time and being smacked upside the head with Truth she opened her mind and thus her heart.

'Complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose.' - Philippians 2:2


Or in the words of Bill and Ted, "Be excellent to each other." ~LA



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