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Thanks for visiting Tinfoil Magnolia, a blog about my life, times, marriage, friendships and all the strange things that happen to me and with me. I hope you find something here that will encourage you, inspire you or at the least entertain you. And if it doesn't today, check back tomorrow because, my life? honestly...

Saturday, September 11

The Unusual One (in Which I Preach and Alienate)

Every year on 9/11 I take a moment, light a candle, and remember. As if I could forget. But you know, if you didn't lose anyone that day, if you were that fortunate, you just don't think of it everyday. There are those who are forced to think of it. Who are without their children, parents, husbands wives, on and on it goes. All those people were just there to work. Even the first responders who never made it out. They started their day as they would have any other.

I am not, as most of you know, a "religious" person. But I remember standing in front of the small tv in my bedroom that morning 9 years ago and staring at the picture. I couldn't believe what was happening.I remember the quiet outside our home when all flights were grounded and we no longer had the BNA flight pattern buzzing overhead. I will never forget how erie that was. I remember taking food and cases of water to the airport, to people who were stuck there. I felt helpless, as if there was nothing I could do that was "big" enough. I ended up lighting a candle each day and saying a few quiet words to wish peace for those people and their families, and send healing energy their way. I continued this pattern for weeks, possibly months. I don't even remember how long now. But every year on 9/11 I still light a candle.

There is so much fur flying right now over this church in Florida. The thing I can not for the life of me figure out is this, how does this help ANYTHING? It just seems hateful and spiteful and pointless to me. In the immediate post-911 days we all felt our country pulling together. We felt it growing closer, stronger. Or was it just me? Now, nine years later, I don't think I could have imagined then the divisive world we live in now, despite so many steps forward. 

One of the biggest problems I have these days is the attitude that seems to be taken up by so many people who fit into the white middle class, such as myself. I guess that is why I notice it so much-because these are the people I am around most. It is almost like someone has to lose in order for them to win. Like if I get paid, I feel better that someone has to do without. If someone else gets something, then I resent them because it probably comes at a cost to me. This is such a negative perspective and bothers me in so many ways, but specifically when it is coming from self-proclaimed "christian" people and aimed at folks who mark "non-white" in the racial survey box. Or "non-christian" in the religion box.

Why can't we just all be humans? Why is it more offensive for African Americans to be on welfare than white trash? Some people need help, they need a hand. Why aren't Muslims in Murfreesboro allowed to build a mosque in which to worship when "mega churches" are on every corner? Is their religion excluded from that freedom? Why don't women have the right to make decisions about their own bodies (still)? How does it hurt me or my marriage if gay men and women can marry? It doesn't. (As Dolly says, they have every right to be miserable like the rest of us.)

 I read a quote weeks ago, Tweeted by the Dali Lama. That's right you read that right, the Dalai Lama (or someone representative) actually tweets. I have been thinking about this ever since:

"We can’t overcome anger and hatred by simply suppressing them. We need to actively cultivate their antidotes, patience and tolerance." The Dalai Lama via Twitter

With all the hatred out there masquerading as "core American" values, I had to stop and really think about this one. What would the world be like if we just exercise patience and tolerance rather than anger and hatred? Yes, they are things I have issues with myself. Specifically patience, and specifically when it comes to achieving a goal. I am the queen of instant gratification. But tolerance, I find a whole lot easier. Everyone has their own path to walk in this life. My path can intersect, be made easier or more difficult, run parallel or overlap with other people from time to time but ultimately what I believe is this. At the end of the road, what ever it may be, I hope sincerely that I have always dealt with people in an honest and straightforward fashion, and have always worked to improve others' lives and not make them more difficult. No matter how they choose to treat me. That is not my journey, it is theirs. It is not my business to judge them on the steps they are taking to fulfill their purpose. Can I always do this? Of course not. Do I always attempt to do this? Yes, I really, truly do. Sometimes I fail miserably, but I try to treat everyone with the respect and dignity I feel they deserve as a human being. They can lose it. Don't get me wrong, but I just don't think everyone has to "earn" it. It costs me nothing to give it to them, to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Guys, anger and hatred is sweeping through our country like wildfire. Please can we work on some tolerance and patience? I am afraid to think what will happen if we don't at least try. Wouldn't it be the "christian" thing to do? Wouldn't it be the "humanist" thing to do? Wouldn't it simply be the humane thing to do?


  1. You forgot labeling...if someone has a different opinion than you do, it is apparently very important these days to label them with a very negative label.

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  3. One of my wife's amazing qualities has been to open my mind. I was an angry, confused, revenge focused dude afetr 9/11. Combine that with co-dependency issues stemming from a bad marriage (later a divorce) a few years later and I projected a lot of my own problems onto other through narrow minded politics. Since meeting my wife, expanding my family, and healing myself through therapy, religion (on my own terms), and great friends I have become more tolerant and understanding. Living with all these women will do that to anyone, I guess. I am with you on just being humans. I cringe when older people reveal prejudice and regurgitate things from right wing talk radio. Hopefully my kids get better than that from my wife and I.

  4. Lance, what a wonderful testimony. I am sure you and your wife are passing on your views to your kids. I grew up in a home with parents who are those people you speak of. They are wonderful, kind and compassionate people but they harbor prejudice and judgement based on social and religious beliefs they have held their entire lives. My mother told me "I haven't changed in 42 years and I am not changing now" when I confronted her about it. I find change a necessary part of life, but it was as if she were proud of staying exactly the same as she was at 20. It is the single biggest thorn in my familial relationship.

    Much credit to you for being willing to open your mind. Not everyone will. I didn't mean to write this as a judgement at all, just always hope to cause people to think about the reasons for why they think what they think and how their thinking affects others.

  5. Thank you, Marsha! I always enjoy reading your writing, but your words on tolerance and patience have brought tears to my eyes. Yes, sister, yes!!! The cancer of hatred, mistrust and deliberate obfuscation has been eating away at our humanity in this free country-- where we are free to be as mean and small minded as we want to be, treat each other like crap and pat ourselves on the back about it all the way to church and back-- knowing without a doubt that our god is better than your god-- so there! Not that America has the market cornered on ignorance and hatred, but we're doing a great job of climbing on our high horses to treat our neighbors as enemies and our enemies as sub-human. Our country was supposedly set up to balance the often mindless power of the majority to protect the often powerless minority. If the human race doesn't learn to use religion to foster tolerance and patience, instead of a divine excuse to dismiss and destroy the other, we are all doomed. And may all the deities out there, have pity on our angry, pompous, selfish souls.

    And the pisser is that just thinking about all the obvious bigotry and blind ignorance, even listening to my beloved NPR as they report on all the craziness these days, makes me so angry-- I find that I can easily become just as enraged and intolerant of people that are enraged and intolerant-- and then how am I adding anything toward a climate of tolerance and patience?! It's so hard-- And then THAT pisses me off. It sometimes feels impossible, trying to enlarge oneself, one's perspective, to offer compassion in the face of hatred, while not turning that compassion into complacency. How to learn to engage and honesty deal with the brokenness of our world, without getting so enraged that one ultimately only adds to it?

    In the midst of it all, it helps to know people are out there, wrestling with the same issues and feelings. I am not alone. Oh, how I wish we lived down the block from you and I could have coffee, beer, or whatever with you everyday and dish about it all!

    love, gratitude and solidarity,
    Mary (aka Eva T Fischer)

  6. Mary,

    I totally understand all of that. I continually waffle between anger and downright fear. I really try not to put either out in to the world, but it is hard sometimes. Thank you for your kind words. I can't tell you how much I wish we could get to know each other better. Your wonderful husband is one of my favorite people on this earth and I know you have to be a wonderful person too.

    Peace and Love