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Monthly Archives: January 2013

What do these two big national arguments have in common?

A lot of people want to stop gay people from getting married because they don’t feel comfortable with gay marriage, even though gay marriage is not causing them any harm.

A lot of people want to decrease the amount of guns in this country – even legal guns of those of people who have never caused any harm – because they don’t feel comfortable with guns.

I’m sure there are a few people out there who want to ban guns AND gay marriage, but in general it seems there is not much overlap between these two groups of, shall we say, “banners”.

The “banees” in both instances (in the second instance I’m referring to the gun owners, not the guns themselves) are justifiably claiming “You are trying to interfere with my rights!”

I feel that we always have to be very careful when letting one group of people tell another group of people what they can have, be, or do.  If you feel that you have the right to tell other people how they can live, then you have to understand that you are opening the door for them to get to tell you how YOU can live.

Of course, the undeniable difference between these two debates is this:  I don’t believe that any innocent bystander has ever been killed by the discharge of a gay marriage.

Another difference is that gay marriage is an all or nothing debate – you have to allow it or not allow it.  The gun control debate is much more complicated, in that there are so many different levels of control being asked for by different people.

I believe that a lot of reasonable people want better enforcement of the gun laws that are already on the books, and consistent application of background checks regardless of where you purchase the weapon.  Then there are more extreme people who want certain kinds of weapons completely unavailable, and limits on the availability of ammunition.  And then, over here in the corner, we have the people who seriously want to see our country without any guns at all.

I hear a lot of gun rights advocates responding as though all gun control advocates fall into that last category – as if the matter of gun laws is as black-and-white as that of gay marriage laws.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this…  I don’t know what the answer is.

I do know that if we banned everything that I could use to kill someone, it would be awfully hard for me to prepare dinner tonight.

I also know that being told I couldn’t marry the consenting adult person that I love would make me even more angry than being told I couldn’t buy the gun I want.

We live in a crazy world.

 

My five-year-old son has a good friend up the street whose family is religious.  Alex often has asked if he can go over there on Sunday morning, and I always say “No, Honey, they are at church now.  You can go over in the afternoon.”  So of course, now he asks if he can go to church WITH them.

Now, I’m not rabidly anti-religion like some people I know.  But the only church I’d let Alex attend at this point is the local Unitarian Universalist church – I went there for a while about five years ago, and I know they don’t teach any “religion” at all (it was more like a town meeting with a little poetry reading thrown in).  I’m not saying *all* Unitarian churches are that way, but our local one sure seemed to be.

I’ve tried to explain religion to Alex before, and it just confused us both.  I think this sums up his understanding so far:

There are books with stories in them.  Some people believe that all of the stories are really true.  Other people believe that some parts are true, but other parts were made up (like a lot of the stories that Alex himself tells!).  Other people believe that everything was completely made up.

Church is kind of like school, but the teaching comes from these religious books.  The people who go to church might get mad if you tell them that you do not think the stories are true.

Alex is a natural-born skeptic (or at least agnostic).  He likes stories, but he does not think that anything that doesn’t SEEM like it could be true IS true.  He likes stories about vampires, zombies, gods, monsters, ghosts, and flying ponies.  He does not think that means there are such things in the real world.  His father and I, however, do tell him that just because you haven’t seen something, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist – you can not prove that something does not exist.

When he asks me about Santa, god, ghosts, and the tooth fairy, I tell him that I have not seen them and don’t really believe in them, but a lot of people do believe in them and I can’t prove that they are wrong.

Some people have told me that it is good to expose Alex to some of the Christian stories as he’s growing up, so that at least he has some idea what people are talking about.  So this week when I picked up his normal fare of library books about Greek myths and monsters, I picked up one book about the parables of Jesus.  Because while a lot of the stories that other people tell about Jesus are just plain creepy, the dude himself told some good stories.

One thing I have no idea how to deal with is the crucifixion scene outside the local Catholic church.  Life-sized representation of the cross with Jesus hanging there with his crown of thorns and people bowing in front of him.  Alex has asked me a couple of times what’s going on there, and I have just changed the subject…  really not interested in getting into how criminals used to be killed by nailing their hands and feet to wooden crosses and hanging them until they died of suffocation, blood loss, or exposure to the elements.  And how some people believe that this one guy came back to life a few days later.

Although Alex does love zombie stories, so I guess he’d like that one, too.

My boss of twelve years.

I can’t give a pithy phrase that explains why I like her so much.  I guess because it’s a few different things, and none of them are easily summed up in a word or two.

1)  She’s an excellent boss. 

Well, for me.  As my husband is an excellent husband for me.  Maybe other people wouldn’t appreciate it either of them as much as I do.  Anyway…

She tells you when something’s wrong, as she tells you when something’s right, without being passive-aggressive or beating around the bush.  She’s not afraid to just say “That is wrong”.  That is, about facts, like you’ve got a number wrong in a report.  She’s one of those rare people who seems to easily make a distinction between the presentation of facts and that of opinions.  So while she would tell you that a number or a name that you entered in a report is wrong, she never implies that the way you dress or keep your house or think about politics is “wrong”.  I realized recently that a lot of people get those things mixed up – they will get all in your face about an opinion that you have which is different from theirs, but are squeamish about pointing out that something presented as truth by a book, teacher, politician, etc. is inaccurate.

She always knew enough about my job to know that I was doing it well, but didn’t need to know every detail of what I did everyday.  Instead of micromanaging me (which I abhor), she would tell me what she needed done and then get out of my way and let me do it the best way I saw fit.  I work well that way.  I get peeved when someone hires me to do a job and then wants to hold my hand all the time I’m working and tell me how to do every step – makes me want to say “Don’t you have something else to do with your time?  If not, and you think you can do this better than me, just fire me and do this job yourself.”

2)  She can “dress up” and “dress down” at will.

What do I mean by that?

She can attend a scientific conference, play a game of basketball, go out to a fancy dinner, and round up cows, all in the same week.

She can socialize with her employees or with a room full of international professors with the same apparent ease.  She seems to enjoy my low-brow sense of humor, while at the same time being rather “classy” herself.

There is a flexibility to her life that I wish I had more of – I am terribly uncomfortable in formal settings, and unable to pretend that I’m not.

3)  She rides her bike a lot.

Of course, there are plenty of people in this world who ride their bike a lot and yet I can not stand.  She rides her bike because she lives in a town where she can, she likes it, and she wants to keep fit.  Sometimes she rides her bike one way and walks her bike back, because she knows “weight-bearing exercise” is important.  I think that’s way cool. 

Riding your bike to work, to doctor’s appointments, out to lunch – those are signs not only that you are trying to be healthy, but also that you are living a lifestyle that allows you to take the time to ride your bike somewhere, instead of being in a constant hurry.  It’s being more in touch with the world that you ride through, instead of being in your insulated bubble with your air conditioning or heat and your radio.

So I had a very good job for the past twelve years, and a lot of what made it so good was this woman who was my supervisor.  I will miss her – although I am sure that we will get together from time to time.  The chances of me having such a good boss in the next job I find are pretty slim.