Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Eradication isn't okay

If you love someone with Down syndrome, you have probably seen a recent article discussing Iceland's near eradication of Down syndrome. If you haven't, click here. Now, I am Pro-Choice, basically, but I would never encourage abortion.

Here's my personal stance on abortion. It disgusts me to know that many women use it as a form of birth control when they have other options. Some women are, however, left with few options due to circumstances. While I would encourage the women to get out of those circumstances as quickly as possible, I know that changing your circumstances isn't always a magic snap of the fingers. If it's an abusive significant other, get away and to a shelter ASAP, obviously, but walking away is easier said than done. I also do understand that some people choose abortion when the child will not be perfect. While that saddens me, I do get it. I know parenting special needs children is hard. Some people can't cut it, and they know that. I also am aware that there are those who would only abort in dire situations where it is truly more humane than giving a child life who will live only moments and be in excruciating pain the whole time. I do sort of fall in this category. Never have I aborted, and never will I abort if at all possible. I do acknowledge that this is my opinion and that we are free to make the decisions that best suit our lives. I would never, ever encourage abortion.

This article seems as though Iceland is encouraging abortion of babies with an extra chromosome. I am horrified and disgusted. We are not eradicating anything but people if it is through abortion. Eradication of a disease or a medical condition implies that there is some sort of cure or remedy which would speak to the reversal of such a thing. What I would assume when eradication and Down syndrome is used in the same sentence is that you are figuring out what makes the egg split weird and preventing that from occurring. For example, we (scientific people who aren't me) figured out Folic acid was especially important and that it could prevent birth defects. The eradication of this complex medical diagnosis would indicate that we have discovered, or are close to discovering a cause.

I did a quick search of thesaurus.com indicates that an alternate word for eradicate is exterminate. I think that is more accurate--  Iceland is on the verge of exterminating Down syndrome. That headline doesn't sound so wonderful and promising; does it? That one is a little more accurate. How about "Iceland is on the Verge of Genocide"? Will that be okay? It's no different than creating a perfect race. We are still singling out a people and eliminating them to make the rest of the people superior. That wasn't okay when Hitler did it to the Jews; it isn't okay to do it now. If these children were already alive, would we be killing them? I think not. To be genetic counseled into abortion isn't the way to combat Down syndrome. I would really rather combat bigotry that says my sweet Lillie is lesser. Meet her. She is superior. At least she thinks so. I think she's pretty awesome and my life is better having known her and her peers. Iceland has it wrong. We are lesser.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

World Down Syndrome Day

As many of you know, my Lillie has Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome. I can tell you why it is written the way it is if you only ask, but I don't want to focus on that in this post.

Yesterday, 3/21, we celebrated World Down Syndrome Day. We did a few things to celebrate.
1. We wore silly socks! Mine had Yoda and Lillie's were mismatched and cute. Everett's were mismatched Star Wars®, and Reid's were neon blue and green. I have pictures of Lillie's and of mine. I will put all pics at the bottom!
2. We went to the Down Syndrome Advocacy Day at the NC General Assembly in Raleigh. #321NCGA #MyVoiceMyCommunity #TDSN Let me say, Lillie is well on her way to being a politician. She waved and smiled and laughed at the politicians, their assistants, and anyone looking her way. Maybe she will be the world's most powerful lobbyist. (Only if she lobbies for the best things). She even got to take a picture with Senator Jerry Tillman of Randolph and Moore Counties. Senator Tillman represents our area. He even put her picture in his weekly newsletter. (That picture will be at the end too!)
3. After a baseball game (TMSA Middle School Tigers) we went to McAlister's at New Garden (Highwoods Blvd) for dinner because they were offering a donation to the DSNGG for diners with a flier. Dinner was great. 

I want to teach Lillie to be a self-advocate. Don't worry what the world thinks of you. Teach the world how to think of you. I know she is just 15 months old, but she is absolutely AMAZING. She's meeting more milestones that we expected and she is the perfect Lillie for us! One day she will know! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Why isn't there a White Lives Matter campaign, Straight Pride Parade, or ableist movement?

*Please note that the following material was not edited. I tried to give credit throughout if and where there was outside information, but I did not include links. It is loosely cited in-text, but since this is a blog I didn't include actual MLA citations. If I start to get questions or requests about the information I will edit and properly cite in-text and provide a Works Cited list. 

Why do #Blacklivesmatter more than White? Why not #straightpride? Why isn't there an ablity awareness? Why isn't there a White history month? Or a Mens history month? Why doesn't {insert topic here} get recongnized? 

I see similar questions every day. I used to wonder about the first one until some things were pointed out to me. Things that I never thought of. Do you know the difference between prejudice and racism? Prejudice has no power. There is very little Black to White racism. When was the last time a White person didn't achieve something because he or she was White? You probably cannot name a time. Does that mean that Black to White prejudice doesn't exist? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of unfair stereotypes that Blacks hold against Whites as a society. This does not at all mean that all Blacks hold these stereotypes nor does it mean that we are injured as a population. My friend Ellen shared a video one day explaining just this. I had never thought about it. (Ellen if you are reading this, I would love to have the link to the video to share).

Let's start with how the two are defined. If you enter "racism" in to Google, it will be defined as: the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior. Historically White society has taken this notion to place restrictions on the "lesser" race. Prejudice, however, is listed as preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. Maybe the difference in definition is the difference in the way words are perceived. For example, some prejudices may not be harmful to anyone. One prejudice (based upon this definition) may be that all Southerners love Sweet Tea. Even if it isn't true (and it's not- I don't love sweet tea, but I can drink it) there isn't anything harmful. It just is or isn't true. Racism can have definite consequences.

So, what does this mean for the #BlackLivesMatter crowd? Well, racism is definitely still alive and thriving in the US. For this reason, many people of color (Black, Asian, Hispanic, non-Caucasian) feel that they have a target on their backs- and for good reason. Let's look at some statistics.  Blacks make up 13% of the population of the US but 40% of the prison population (Sakala- Prisonpolicy.org). Also, the incidence of White (only White) people living in poverty is roughly 12% overall, but for the Black population (Black only) is 26% (Census.gov). In addition, 57% of the US prison population is living with a median income below $22,500 (prisonpolicy.org). So, if you are a poor Black man living in the US you are more likely to wind up in prison than your White counterpart. To offer a little anecdotal evidence, I have worked as a teacher to prison inmates. Because I knew their first and last names I could look up their crimes/ sentences/ "rap sheet" online (and you can too if you know an inmate). I could look up White prisoners and Black prisoners with similar past convictions as well as current conviction and 99% of the time the White prisoner had a shorter/ lighter sentence. The system seems to be stacked against the Black inmate. The overwhelming majority of crimes that are falsely reported have a black suspect. What about the mistaken identity? Darryl Hunt spent how long in prison for a crime he didn't commit? This is not a new song. How often do we hear of this from other races? It's rare.

In many of the impoverished neighborhoods suspects are considered armed until proven otherwise. I thought our country was founded on principles like innocent until proven guilty. How often do you watch the news and assume guilt because the news shows a mugshot of a suspect? How many people thought Darryl Hunt or Ronald Cotton was guilty? These guys feel like there is a target because there is a major prejudice problem that leads to racism. We don't have to take care of those people because they aren't like us. I really don't know how we got to this point. I mean since the end of Slavery in the US, how many opportunities have been afforded people of color. Until the 1960's Civil Rights Movement they weren't even allowed to sit next to us (White) folks. In the 40's we put the Japanese in internment camps. I suppose we should do the same to Muslims. Mohammad did not preach anger and hate, but did teach love and harmony. He would not be happy with the Taliban, Al Queda, or ISIL. Do you really think God was happy with the Crusades? Have Christians not done bad in God's name. Westboro Baptist acts in the name of God, but clearly doesn't act on true Christian principles.

Christians aren't under attack here. I am a Christian. Whether or not I am a Christian has no bearing on whether or not I am a good person. Perfectly good people practice non-Christian religions, or no religion at all. This brings me to the second group, the LGBTQ crowd. Now, I am not going to debate whether or not it is a sin to have any sexual orientation other than heterosexual, but, I am going to argue that it isn't my place to police how one practices Christianity. There is a thin guise of religion for not wanting same sex couples to marry. I say a thin guise because I don't hear any outrage that heterosexual atheists want to marry. Under the law any heterosexual couple can marry at any time as long as no bigamy has occurred and as long as both parties are consenting adults. Nowhere under the law does it say that the Christian church must perform the ceremony. I do not believe that we should police churches this way. Let the church decide. That said, let consenting adults of sound mind decide whom they marry. I actually don't care if Bill wants 27 wives. If all 28 people are in agreement, it's not my place to tell them they can't. Due to this public outrage over whom we may marry or not marry the LGBTQ community has been targeted for many reasons. No "straight" couple has been denied service or rights for being "straight". I personally don't see how it affects anything. The government sees marriage as a contract, not a religious document. In that case let them marry. Fine, don't recognize their union in the Church. Whatever, but don't tell them they cannot enter into a legally binding contract. There doesn't need to be straight pride because there is no straight discrimination. When is the last time a straight person was denied a job for being heterosexual? I actually hate the term straight... it implies that homosexuality is crooked. Maybe your interpretation of the Bible says it's a sin, but it has a weird denotation for me. While the country is so busy trying to police sin involving love there are mass killings almost daily it seems. Maybe we should practice more love and not focus on the separation. Heterosexuality is accepted and celebrated every day. Gay Pride shouldn't need to be a thing. We should celebrate everyone. Not just those who look like us and act like us. According to GLAD, fewer than 1/3 of states have legislation protecting the rights of LGBTQ people and no federal laws. So discrimination is legal as long as it has to do with sexual orientation? NO! This should never be okay. We should protect the rights of all. Not just those who fit into our own box.

If we should celebrate everyone, why don't we get a White history/ men's history/ {insert majority} history month? Each month in schools across the nation we are taught American history from the White perspective. Native Americans and African Americans have far different accounts of how events in history happened. These groups are marginalized in text books and in classrooms all year long. So, schools spend February discussing Black History, generally November discussing very little Native American History, March discussing Women's History, and the first week in May they might mention Hispanic Heritage. You have the rest of the year. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. We still leave out many marginalized groups including the disabled students and adults. According to Diversity Central almost every month has a theme. Did you know that May isn't even Hispanic Heritage month? It's September. We never discussed Hispanic Heritage in September when I was in school. Of course we tried to ignore the disabled kids altogether.

The disabled community is mocked, laughed at, belittled, and pushed aside. People make snap judgements on who should have a handicapped placard, where disabled people should work, what types of services should be allowed, and even what kinds of decisions they can make for themselves. There isn't an ableism movement because you are ABLE to make all of these decisions yourself. I get so tired of seeing headlines like "Model with Down Syndrome to Participate in Fashion Week" or "Man in Wheelchair Starts His Own Business" or "Insert Disability Here Does Everyday task here." Why can't we celebrate the man for being a savvy business man, why does his wheelchair matter? Or her chromosome status? We wouldn't need disability awareness if so many people were not aware that people with disabilities can actually thrive. According to the Department of Labor only about 1/3 of adults with a disability were employed in 2012. 1/3! Some people with a disability don't want to work or can't, but some people without a disability don't want to work! It is ridiculous to think that these people aren't capable. Yes, it may take more time to train, but many employers have stated that these are the most loyal employees. I am ashamed at the US for not employing more people with disabilities.

Straight White men over the age of 40 aren't being discriminated against and targeted. We don't need to celebrate you because you already hold the world in the palm of your hands. When we start valuing all lives simply for being human we won't need Pride week, #BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter, disability awareness, or a women's movement.

I have not covered #BlueLivesMatter until now. Blue lives do matter. No one should be targeted because of their profession. These police officers are sworn to serve and protect. Most of the time they try to do just that. There are some terrible cops in this world, because cops are human and there are some terrible humans. There are some amazing cops for the same reason: good people do become cops. The Black community is tired of being targeted, but some of them are fighting back with violence rather than communication. I cannot blame the Black community for being angry with cops that target them for being Black. Driving while Black is a thing. People really are stopped for being Black in the wrong place. Maybe cops are making mistakes based upon their previous experiences, but they shouldn't be killed for another's mistake. Being a cop is dangerous. No one should have to give their life because someone assumes they are dirty/ bad/ crooked. I have met some cops who were real assholes and due to this I am extremely cautious around cops. They frustrate me and make me nervous. No, I don't think they are all this way, but I don't know when I am going to meet one who is bad. I also don't think all cops should die because some cops are asses. No cop should be targeted for the uniform he puts on in the morning. Vietnam Veterans shouldn't have been targeted in the 60s and 70s. No one should be targeted for an arbitrary reason. Got a beef with a cop? Take it up with that cop or his boss. Push the issue. Demand better treatment by cops. Demand better training. Don't kill 10 cops because 1 is a jackass.

I didn't cover mental health issues because there is not yet a solid movement to help them. We currently don't seem to care.

Maybe we need one final movement. One to end all other movements. One that breaks down barriers and lifts up our fellow humans. A movement that doesn't preclude Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, Pride, or Disabilities. We need a movement that recognizes that the Black community, LGBTQ community, Police officers, and disabled Americans deserve better. Your life matters whether you are Gay, Straight, Black, White, Brown, Disabled, Able Bodied, a Police officer, or a homemaker. All life does matter. Lift EVERY voice. Lift Every Voice. Someone come up with a hashtag if you want. Start a movement. Love your neighbors.

Monday, December 7, 2015

No Apology Necessary

On November 27 we received a blessing-- our baby girl. She was 5 pounds 8.5 ounces of pure perfection. Since she was born, I have received condolences or apologies on two separate occasions. I fear that if I don't address it, I will continue to receive apologies and condolences on the life of my little one. She has Down Syndrome. It is the nondisjunctive type and most common form. It is the complete trisomy 21. There are two other types that are sometimes considered milder but that is really irrelevant here. I keep hearing "I'm sorry" or "let me offer my condolences" in reference to her diagnosis. I really don't understand this. I have been give a gift, Lillie is beautiful and the perfect Lillie she can be. God designed her to be as she is. She was designed to have Down Syndrome. I don't know why. I don't know why God chose our family to give this child to, but I imagine it is to teach us something, and so that we can teach the world something.

Yes, my child has special needs and I was aware of this about the 12th week of my pregnancy. I had the opportunity to have a definitive diagnosis back then through amniocentesis. We elected not to undergo this test because of the risk of miscarriage. Everett and I wanted Lillie no matter what her diagnosis, and were not willing to knowingly put ourselves at risk of losing her.

During her hospital stay at birth they drew blood for karyotyping so that we would know what type of DS we were looking at. We really didn't care, but wanted the diagnosis so that we would know what services and medical needs would need to be met. There is nothing to be sorry for. Lillie is special, and would be regardless of diagnosis. Lillie has a bright future, and I dare anyone to tell her different. She can do and be anything she wants.

Everett insisted she have a particular outfit for her "coming home" clothing. It has pink, purple, and grey elephants and hearts and says "dream big" on it. He wanted her to know from her first trip and throughout her life that she can do and be as she pleases; she need only to dream big.

I am grateful to those who want to offer condolences, but they really aren't necessary. I know that those offering are just saying, "hey, I know life is going to be extra hard for you and I am thinking about you," but life is hard no matter what. Please don't think I am mad at you all, just know that we don't want you to feel sorry for us. I am proud of my daughter no matter her diagnosis. Our lives are different now, and in some ways will be harder, but in many more ways will be better than we could ever imagine. Next time you think you want to apologize to a mom for this, just remember we don't need the apologies, we just want to know that you support our little ones and their dreams. After all, we should all dream big.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Words can be many things, but they are not blankets

I have seen a lot of word throwing as of late. What do I mean by word throwing? I mean using words to be hateful, or make blanket statements. Words may be helpful, comforting, harmful, deceitful, cause pain, or bring security; words, however, are not blankets.

Some people use word blankets to say things like "you always" or "I never..." but one rarely always or nevers anything. Other people use blanket statements to talk about others' views. Such as "he or she hates _____ because ___." While this may hold true most of the time, a blanket statement is rarely accurate.

I say this because several times I have seen posts on Facebook that say if you think this is offensive, but not this you are part of the problem, or other things to that nature. One of these pictures is that of the Confederate flag on top, and young Black men showing their underwear (pants sagging) on the bottom. Why can't I find both offensive? If I do, am I part of the problem? Am I only part of the problem if I only find one offensive. And by the way, it can be a young White guy and I find it equally offensive. It's lazy and I don't want to see your underwear. I also find the Confederate flag offensive because I feel that it promotes division. It was a result of the Southern States dividing from the Union, and promoted division then. Now, it makes MANY (not all) African Americans feel marginalized, thereby dividing the nation still. Another has to do with abortion and Gay rights, or something. It's been a while since I have seen it, but basically if I believe in Gay rights, I must also believe that abortion is okay. Yes, I believe abortion should remain legal, but not because I think it's okay. Mostly because if it is not legal, then when it is imperative for a woman to end a pregnancy due to medical reasons, it can mean that she doesn't get the procedure. If the laws were properly written to allow for special circumstances, I might say ban elective abortion. At the same time, however, I don't believe we can police people's beliefs.

The last is the meme that says we should take the welfare checks of anyone caught burning the flag. There are more problems with this one than just taking food from people. First, a lot of people burning the flag ARE NOT ON WELFARE. How shall we punish them? This meme is meant to imply the ignorant poor are to blame, well, my friend, not always. ALSO, this act is actually protected under the first amendment. I am also torn with this. While I think this is a horrid act, and if you hate America so much, leave, I support the first amendment.

I also support the second amendment, but refuse to buy a gun. See, I don't quite fit in that little box. I am a responsible non-owner. While I support the second amendment right to own a firearm, I know that I suffer from depression, anxiety, and PTSD. A gun in my house is a really bad idea. I also expect you to respect that and not bring a gun into my home (if you are a visitor). If more people would be responsible non-owners, maybe some of this violence wouldn't occur. I don't know maybe it would, but I know I will wind up on the news if I buy a firearm. So, I don't buy one.

The world isn't black or white. Words aren't blankets. Please stop smothering people with false dichotomies.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

An eye for an eye or prayers for my enemy

Apparently last night Fred Phelps passed away shortly before midnight. Many people are rejoicing at this. This is an interesting thing to me. I am not really sure how to react to the rejoicing. See, they are rejoicing for the wrong reasons. They are doing so because in their opinion the scum of the earth is dead. Well, do I disagree with this fact, not really. Do I think he did horrible things and made people feel horrendous and took advantage of situations that were already too difficult for people to stand? Yep. Do I think we should cheer when someone dies because they were a poor excuse for a human, and abused Christianity for their own agenda? NO.

There are a lot of bad things that can be said about Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. I think that they use Christianity to hide behind bigotry and hate. I think that Jesus taught love and tolerance and would not approve of belittling people grieving or in any other state and the fact that this "church" chooses to do so is perverting the very foundation that Jesus Christ stood upon. That being said, I think that Christians cheering over the death of this man for the same reasons are doing the SAME thing.

If I want to picket and protest his funeral, how does that make me any better of a Christian than he was? Doesn't the Bible teach us to forgive and even LOVE our enemies? I am not saying that it is a simple task, but isn't that our instruction? How then, can stooping to his level be teaching Christianity to these misguided self-proclaimed Christians? We are doing what they are. I have to rise above and pray for his family, congregation, and his soul. I have to follow the Bible, no matter how hard it may be. I think he was a bigot, a fool, and needs to pay for his sins; but I am not the judge. He has passed and God will be his judge. I actually see him as lucky in some ways right now.

He now knows the truth. Something none of us really know. He knows exactly how God feels about his actions. He knows if he was justified, or if he was wrong. He is being judged for his sins. The Bible says the wages of sin is death. It never actually condemns anyone to hell. If Mr. Phelps was in fact saved he will go to heaven and answer for his sins. If he was not he will not. The only way to heaven is salvation. There is no alternative. All we know now is Mr. Phelps has the answers. He will answer for his sins. He will be judged. Not by you, nor by me, but by God.

I mentioned I was torn by the cheering. Many people believe, and I will admit here that I don't know the Bible well enough, that we are to rejoice at death. We are not to grieve at the passing of a loved one. How many of us actually follow this? This is probably because we are selfish by nature. We want to keep those we love around. We don't want to lose loved ones. Again, cheering for the death of Mr. Phelps here is not a pretty sight. We are cheering because we are glad to be rid of him.

Does being rid of Fred Phelps mean anything? We aren't rid of Westboro Baptist Church. I am led to believe they actually excommunicated him last year. So, they are going to continue being bigots, picketing, and spreading hate. How does helping them spread this hate rid us of hate? It doesn't, rather it furthers their agenda. So fellow Christians, I ask you this, look in your hearts and find the love that Jesus taught. Find forgiveness. Bestow it on an undeserving individual, Fred Phelps. Forgive him, forget him, move on. Spread peace, spread love. Rejoice in Christ. Amen.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Politics and religion shouldn't be married I don't care if gays get married

Ok let me begin by saying I don't care what is or isn't a sin; it isn't my place to monitor sins. My whole issue with the debate on homosexual marriage is not one from a traditional religious stance. It is one from a political stance. See there seems to be this huge religious debate on whether or not gays can marry because God doesn't recognize gay marriage, but my question is does He recognize marriages of pagans, atheists, agnostics, blasphemers,  non-Christians, or other groups that do not subscribe to religious doctrine? We do not prevent these people from getting married. There are ordained ministers in each of these groups that can marry people. Why then do we prevent homosexuals from marrying? The religious debate is irrelevant here.

Also, from a political stance, if it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, how then do we justify this? Are we not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation in the area of marriage licenses? This is a political question, not a religious one either. I would think that this is unconstitutional.

Let's just toy with the idea that we think it is okay to say that gayness is a special sin that garners special treatment. Why then does other sin not garner the same treatment? I am divorced, and the Bible is clearly against this behavior. Why was I allowed to remarry? Of course, I do have a bit of an excuse. The circumstances of my divorce did involve what could have been considered sexual immorality. Of course, this is a matter of interpretation, as are the scriptures that handle homosexuality in the Bible. Let me also say I am not specifically blaming either party for immortality, only stating that someone behaved in a manner that may or may not be interpreted as immoral during the 13 years we were married. We both had faults please don't go telling him I said he was sexually immoral. I didn't.

I would also like to play devil's advocate for a moment. Which Bible are we considering the scripture to come from? There are many interpretations of the Bible. The most widely cited seems to be the King James Version (KJV). This version was translated in the seventeenth century, many years after the original Bible was written. I would like to offer food for thought here. The Bible was written by fallible man's hand, and in turn, translated by fallible man's hand. While the Bible may have been instructed by God, do we really know that man did not make mistakes? Also, In 1611 the Bible was commissioned to be translated by a King. In these days one did not anger a King for fear of his or her own life. How do we know that there were not alterations made to the Bible in order to appease the King? We don't. This is where faith comes in. As a Quaker, I believe we have our own relationships with God. I believe that God teaches love of all people regardless of sin. I love my brothers and sisters regardless of sin. I am not perfect, and find that I love some more than others, yes. I have to distance myself from some because of my own mental health, but I am no better than any of my brothers and sisters through Christ.

I cannot wrap my head around a God that would preach so much love and then instruct me to ostracize a group the way that Americans seem to be ostracizing our homosexual brothers and sisters. God tells me to love them and that He will deal with their sins. I am to teach them to live for Christ and to be an example of Jesus' love for us. I am not supposed to make them hate themselves or make them feel inferior. I love all people and I believe that if our constitution says that one right is good for all the ALL should mean ALL.

I don't believe guns should even exist, but the second amendment gives the rights to ALL law abiding citizens to own guns; therefore, I do not challenge that law and believe that congress needs to leave it alone. Those of you that carry guns know what I am talking about. Chew on that.