I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘America’

The Show Must Go On.


Can’t what, you ask? Stay in the bed, as I wanted to do. There was a Veterans’ Day Assembly at work and naturally, the music teacher was on call. On the program today: a 1st grade class singing America and This Land is Your Land, and a Kindergarten class matching with flags to The Stars and Stripes Forever. 

I first went into the first grade classroom to do a quick run through with them. I smiled as they stood up and faced the American flag, excited to represent their school in front of the entire student body and the guest veterans. I kept it together as they sang America, but as soon as they started bouncing cheerily for This Land is Your Land, tears came to my eyes. The simple lyrics of the first verse: 

This land is your land

This land is my land 

From California

To the New York island

From the redwood forest 

To the gulf stream waters 

This land was made for you and me 

You. And. Me. 

I love that I teach an ethnically diverse group of students, each of whom sings enthusiastically and believes in that America. Each time they come to my classroom, they stand and face the flag giddily, prepared to start, sing, and end together prior to the beginning of that day’s lesson. Whenever I teach them their patriotic song in the beginning of the year, I ask, “Why do you like singing these songs in particular?” 

I love America.

It is fun living here. 

America has lots of stuff to do. 

I am humbled to have a job where I help children express their positive feelings about our country. I ask them to think about the people who have served America in the military prior to singing, the ones whom have helped make America a lovable, fun place with lots of stuff to do. I demand that they sing their best because so many have given their best so our children may sing freely. I strive each day to give them my best so they have as many opportunities as possible; to think, to grow, to challenge themselves. 

I brought my Kindergarteners into my room to rehearse the flag march, and let me tell you something – you have not seen excitement until you’ve handed 20 5-6 year olds each two miniature American flags to wave.  I reminded them to hold the flags still and respectfully, just as we should respect our country. As I heard the introduction of our national march, I started to tear up again. I stepped outside myself to ensure that my students were moving correctly, marching steadily, facing their conductor. “If you are not paying attention, you don’t get to celebrate veterans with us today -” was indeed an effective warning for them. They were eager to do their best, for me, for their school, for their families and country. 

As we filed outside for the assembly, I saw the veterans to be honored on the stage. After making sure my performers were seated and knew what to do, I stood to attention, as the color guard was about to enter. 

I lost it. 

Tears were streaming down my face. 

I wiped them away, not wanting to cause anyone concern, but all I could think was, 

“There are people who don’t want me here.”

There are people who see the many colors of my American classroom as a bad thing. There are people who see others as enemies solely because they appear different, worship another deity, or were not born in the United States. I know this is hardly news, but these people are elated that America’s president-elect has helped them express their views more comfortably. 

I understand that there are many people who voted for Mr. Trump that have no interest in discriminating against that which is different. I understand that there are people that I love – and that love me – who did so. I am saddened that this was the man who excited the conservative base in our country, because there were 16 other candidates with the same agenda who didn’t have an interest in overtly provoking the racist dragons that have existed in America from its beginning. I don’t expect them to feel how I do, but if you are truly my friend, I do expect you to consider my feelings. Consider that you probably have never had to question whether people viewed you as American enough. Consider that people likely don’t approach you with pre-judgment. Consider that I am wondering if my uterus should remain vacant until 2020 because I am not sure if this is the America I want my child(ren) introduced to. 

I truly believe the biggest lie told during the presidential campaign was that America is not already great. I could not stay in bed and reflect today because I had a show to do. I have rehearsal every day until Christ comes back (maybe between December 20 and January 20; I am kinda curious to see how my marathon goes – relax! I kid), and my mission in America’s practice room is to make her better by engaging with people who think differently than I do in a respectful manner. Helping others achieve their dreams. Serving my community. 

We’ve got a show to do. 

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Dear Christians, I’m lobbying for a new hobby.

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First, I’d like to let you know who is writing you. I count myself among Christ’s followers. I was raised and baptized in a Southern Baptist church. I regularly tithe, read the Bible daily and do not view it as merely good ideas. I am saved by Grace and work (and fall short) every day to show that I am thankful Christ gave his life for me. Theologically speaking, I am no liberal.

I count myself blessed to have been born in the United States, where I get to put on my church hat, grab my iPad, and choose which translation of the Bible I’m going to read without fear. I’m not talking about the kind of fear of losing a couple of friends or people thinking I must not be too bright if I think the Bible is God’s inspired word. I mean fear of the government. Fear for my life. I can worship freely and I love that the framers, whatever their flaws may have been, set us up that way.

I’ll speak to one of our favorite hobbies now – the pro-life movement. As to where I stand, I think abortion is tragic. I wish they didn’t have to happen. I wish no woman suffered the pain of a miscarriage. I wish no woman would ever go to the doctor to learn that her child would be born with an unimaginable defect. I hesitate to call myself pro-life because of all the mess it’s associated with. At the same time, I am not comfortable calling myself pro-choice for the same reason. I find it disturbing that people would picket and shout at complete strangers with whose situation they are completely unfamiliar. I also find it flippant and disrespectful to say “don’t like abortion? Don’t have one.” Everyone has a right to a voice. Christians, we have a responsibility to make that a Christ-like voice. A loving voice. The stuff that happens outside those clinics ain’t it. In a perfect world, abortions would not have to happen. Many things are not under our control. You know what we SHOULD do if we hate abortion so much? 1. Work to improve circumstances of mommies and 2. Work to educate children so children are not having children. Nothing unbiblical about that. Summary: put me in Clinton’s camp. It should be safe, legal, and rare. I think there are lots of things related to 1 and 2 mentioned above that the church can be doing to make it rare.

You know what will definitely NOT make it rare? Not covering birth control in an insurance policy. The recent decision of the Supreme Court disturbed me on several levels. I could only imagine if my mother worked for Hobby Lobby when I was a teen and needed birth control for hormonal issues that had nothing to do with the pill’s intended purpose. Our God made us free to follow Him. Jesus did not grab Peter by the throat and say “joker you better put that net down or else.” We cannot expect for everyone to believe what we do, and certainly not in this context. Aside from that, regarding the purpose of birth control – I am positive that many of the women who work for Hobby Lobby are in happy, heterosexual marriages. If the beef is that everyone should be procreating, why is Hobby Lobby covering vasectomies? Certainly Viagra promoting procreation is a joke too, right? Most in the market for an erectile dysfunction drug are not in the market for children. It just makes me suspect that if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a non-issue. “Shoot, I’ve got season tickets. I can’t have this baby.” Just. Like. That.

Christ died and rose to save people. John 3:16 does not say “For whatever corporation believeth in me shall not perish but have eternal life.” If a corporation were a person, it would be a two year old. Selfish, having no interest except in the here and now for its own sake, regardless of how it impacts others. What do we do with two year olds? We don’t let them out of our sight for a moment. We appreciate two year olds and love them, but we – some more than others – are all too aware of the damage they can cause.

Christians, a decision like SCOTUS made is damaging to us. Don’t think for one second that it’s out of the realm of possibility that people will say they have a right to deny anyone, including us, a right to anything. Christ is bigger than this. We should be bigger than this.

I used to think that the thing I feared most about following Christ was that I wasn’t doing a good enough job with the rules to be known as a Christian. Now it scares me that because I am not shoving my theological beliefs in people’s faces like a jerk I will not be known as a Christian. We should be known by our love (with truth, of course) and not by trying to keep women from having access to birth control. Not even abortion. The thing that prevents women from having them!

I know my walk is imperfect. I share that with all of you. Let’s all walk more humbly, keep our eyes on Him, and leave the judgment to the Perfect One.

Love,
Lady J

The Perils of Privilege: Why holidays are a BFD

I’ve always found the response of “first world problems” to any seemingly trivial complaint to be problematic. While its intent may be to remind the complainant of his/her blessings, the implication is that once you reach a certain level of privilege that you don’t have real problems any longer. Moreover, I think the response gives an excuse to the respondent to be dismissive. Why, especially if a friend is telling you s(he) is struggling with something, would you essentially say “Hey. You’re stupid for even thinking you have a problem.”? The issue is either legitimate OR if the complainant truly has a problem with seeing how blessed s(he) is, perhaps you could restore them in a way that is less abrasive.

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If The Lord knows something that appears as inconsequential as the number of hairs on our head, surely we can do a better job of listening to each other’s struggles.

I say this to say I believe that first world problems are very serious ones. Not the problems themselves, necessarily, but what having them means. As I am teaching the babies patriotic songs, we discuss the reason we sing them and the sacrifices that those who have served have made so that we can freely discuss anything. The first day we sing them, everyone is generally well-behaved and respectful.
The babies get it – people have done things for them so that they could be there. They appreciate being able to sing and play and learn. The next time I see them, someone is invariably distracted or goofing off. I’ve got to remind them again – don’t forget why you are able to be here! They tighten up quickly.

Without exception – the older the students get, the more reminders I have to give.

I don’t think this is a coincidence. The more experience that we have with privilege, the more we tend to take for granted. That is a big ass problem. It has to do with more than honoring our amazing military. Upon their shoulders stand parents, teachers, and who knows who else that enable all of us to live lives that most people in the world could not even imagine. In a strange twist, too often we are caught up in creating and living that life we forget why it is that we’re able to do anything.

I wish we didn’t need holidays for those reminders. We really should live every day remembering the sacrifices of others. It is because increase in privilege does not mean decrease in fragility and fallibility that we must make special effort to honor our heroes.

Happy Memorial Day!

‘Murka – Land of the Free, Home of the Ig’nant

Welp. It happened. I saw something politically related on Facebook that moved me to the blog. It was a post that appealed to me as musician, athlete, and citizen. Juicy.

 

National Anthem Question

I’ll go ahead and share my own opinion – yes, of course. Few things unite people in the way that music and sports do. We may be playing/cheering for different interests, but we’re doing it in a country that we all support in one way or another. I have to quiet the music teacher in me whenever I see or hear someone not showing respect for both country AND performer. Our anthem is quite difficult to sing well and the effort should be appreciated and applauded with exemplary performance etiquette. Each time I hear it performed at a sporting event, I feel proud of both my country and my self-control for not punching some rude jackass in the face.

So I made a poor decision. I clicked on the comments.

I was not surprised to see people say that if you don’t want it performed at sporting events, you should leave America. Love it or leave it, blah blah blah. However, this particular comment offended me because of its implications and attempt to connect things that are unrelated:

Americans are being asked to give up too much because our way offends people who have come to our land. America accepts all who come and want to be free. If our laws and ways are not what you want then leave. America was good enough for you to leave where you came from so stop asking us to change what our country was founded on. If you had chosen any other country to go to would you ask them to change and not sing their National Anthem? No because they would kick your butts out of their country. So leave us alone to sing our National Anthem and observe our religious freedoms to pray when and where we want to.”

Sigh. I’m going to hit the parts that bother me in ascending level of personal offense.

1. If you had chosen any other country to go to would you ask them to change and not sing their National Anthem? No because they would kick your butts out of their country.

Any other country? So if you went to the United Kingdom, France, Russia – and you said you didn’t like that the national anthem was performed before a sporting event, they would revoke your citizenship/visa. That’s how that works. Okay. Sure, you might get some looks,  but you can get those same looks here. Hell, I might give that look to someone who said that to me. When you or I expresses an opinion, it does not infringe upon the rights of others. You can safely express your opinion in several other countries aside from the United States without fear of deportation.

2.  Stop asking us to change what our country was founded on.

Let me make sure that I understand you, ma’am – our country was founded on the right to listen to the National Anthem at Sunday’s game? Is that what you’re saying? I hope you will allow me to assume that what you are actually talking about is what you see as the erosion of open displays of patriotism. This is the same line of thinking that if you say anything is wrong with America that you hate it. You threw in a line about religious freedom (which I will address in just a moment), so I am sure you will appreciate this:

For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives. (Hebrews 12:6 NKJV)

That’s right. If someone who claims to love you is not calling you out when you’re screwing up, s(he) doesn’t love you. Full stop. If you are in the type of relationship with your country where you love it blindly, you don’t know your country. There are many fantastic things about America, and there is nowhere I would rather be. That doesn’t mean I can’t see what needs improvement and I hope to be able to work with others to do so. Indeed, those who founded our country had many an argument about what was best for America. Does that mean they didn’t love it? I doubt you would say so.

 3. So leave us alone to sing our National Anthem and observe our religious freedoms to pray when and where we want to.

You know what’s great about the National Anthem? Well – real talk – at least the first verse of it, anyhow. It unites people who love America and different sports teams and different gods or maybe no god at all. I have my babies dissect the lyrics of the song as soon as we start learning how to sing it – no mention of God, religion, or faith. Just pretty lights and bravery. Did you only want to be united in the United States with people who believe the same things as you do? I have to wonder what you see the point of singing the anthem is. I am a practicing Christian and if someone told me he thought singing the National Anthem before sporting events was inappropriate, I would just think he was stupid. I feel my right to practice Christianity is perfectly safe from an idiot like that. Come on, people. Not every discussion is DEFCON 1. I would guess that the bottom line for you would be tradition, and there is nothing wrong with tradition unless it is unquestioned tradition for tradition’s sake.

Tradition.

Tradition.

4. Americans are being asked to give up too much because our way offends people who have come to our land.

Jesus take the wheel keyboard. Please.

The implication here is hardly subtle, folks. If you don’t want the National Anthem sung, it’s because you’re not a real American. You know what fake Americans tend to have a lot of? Melanin. I am a daughter of an immigrant whom I got to watch happily stand among others, equally elated, to sing the National Anthem and wave the American flag as a naturalized citizen. I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing many naturalization ceremonies and I have not seen ONE person who wasn’t amped to embrace his/her new country and its traditions. Not. One. In fact, you know the only people I know of that don’t want to sing the National Anthem? People whose faith prevents them from doing so. They come in many colors, and I haven’ t even heard of an instance where they’ve advocated for no one singing the anthem simply because they don’t do it. They simply choose not to participate and respectfully sit out. Sounds like a well-functioning country to me.

I’m going to go ahead and call it how I see it. This isn’t REALLY a problem about the right to enjoy/perform the National Anthem. This is a problem about people having different opinions/beliefs. If you want to be a racist xenophobe, you’re free to do so. You can even wrap it up in patriotism and pretend you “just love America.” Please, enjoy your right to be a jackass with little consequence.

 

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