AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER? by Beth Rankin

AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER? by Beth Rankin

Several years ago I called a local print shop to order some brochures and the guy gave me a quote for the job. I emailed him the file and stopped in there a week later to pick them up.

remember_golden_ruleWRONG!!!!!

The phone guy was not there but my brochures were, without an invoice. The boss had me take the printed brochures, saying he would send an invoice.
Three months went by, no invoice. I stopped back in and prepared to pay. Still no phone guy and the boss man still had not prepared the invoice. I told him what the quote was and he had me pay that. But he marvelled that I had come back in, saying most people would not.

I said that was sad. I then said that I try to live by the Golden Rule.

“Oh yeah,” he sneered, “screw them before they screw you.”

“No, wrong attitude, ” I reminded him I HAD come back in. “Treat people the way you want to be treated,” I reminded him. He laughed, not a happy sound.

Today I saw a meme on Facebook where Elizabeth Warren challenges us Americans to consider where we are as a society. If most of us have the attitude that the printing shop owner has, we are in big trouble.

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So, why have we become a very selfish, self-centered, I need I need I need I don’t care about you society? This is not because Black men don’t stay with their families. This is not because today’s music undermines the morality of our children. This is because most of us are hurting and resentful and above all, it is because most of us want what we want and many have forgotten that you need to work for it.

Bengazi (2)Many people are unhappy with the way things are. Many people, like me, have passion for one or two issues but never move beyond them to consider the common good in choosing a candidate.


If you abhor abortion, and you’re a woman, don’t get one. If you’re a man, don’t get a woman in a position to need to consider one. Support widespread education about how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. And then, be responsible not just angry.

If you are terrified that any Muslim is going to kill you, get educated. Believe it or not, Harvard offers FREE online courses. You have a computer, after all you are reading this. So, take advantage and learn more in a way that will not be slanted to one political ideology. Here is the link for the free courses offered about religion. Xenophobia is not attractive and your fear means the terrorists are winning. They may not have to kill you to show they control you.

If you believe the poor are sitting back and taking advantage of social programs so they don’t have to work and you believe they are the cause of our national deficit, time to realize that the most expensive welfare program in our country is to corporations in the misguided effort to keep big business here at home, hiring our workforce. Large corporations despite huge profits are eligible for huge tax incentives and other programs that put money in their corporate pockets. They take advantage of the laws and STILL move offshore with their manufacturing plants, also taking advantage of the law. In the effort to keep food commodity prices low, large corporate factory farms are given money NOT to grow food. Your tax dollar, in other words, is NOT being abused by the poor. The programs may not be effective but don’t cut services without offering a better alternative.

politifact-photos-Budget_pie_chart_meme (2)

If you notice a recurring theme, it is get educated. If you are angry about something, dig in more, using all sources, not just the ones that make you happy when you read them.

And then, get back to considering my first question. Are you your brother’s keeper?

We are part of a nation with vast differences. Those differences have made us what we are. We have different heritages, different living situations, different educational experience, different work experiences. The people who seem to be most upset are those stuck in the past when the White majority had all the power, and those on the edges who are trying to gain their equal place in the sun. We should not have different attitudes about everyone living in peace, everyone living in a safe place, everyone having access to education to improve their world and the world around them, everyone doing their best at their chosen work.

If we don’t lose this “me versus the rest of the world” attitude, we are in for more divisiveness, more anger, more home-grown people choosing to use their legally acquired guns to exhibit their anger.

It starts with YOU and how you raise YOUR children. Work it. Be responsible and educated.

If this blog irritates you….there she goes again with more liberal ranting….please take the time to respond and explain why wanting all us of to work together is against your sensitivities. If you agree with the concepts here, please comment and explain why and, if you are willing, go a step further and explain how you put those feelings into action. After all, some people need a road map. Let’s build one together.roadmap

A LETTER FROM A DAD TO HIS AFRAID, GAY SON by GoGoGo Everton

A LETTER FROM A DAD TO HIS AFRAID, GAY SON by GoGoGo Everton

dog with pencil and eraserWhat a great way to end the week! This is an extremely touching letter that has gone viral. One day, this is how most dads will react, as we continue to work toward a national attitude that favors equality and the right economy for all fathers to stay and support & love their children. My father loves me, and I know he wouldn’t have disowned me if I came out as gay, but I’m also not confident I would’ve gotten this letter either.

Text is below the picture. Pick reposted from FCKH8.com

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“I overheard your phone conversation with Mike last night about your plans to come out to me,” it reads. “The only thing I need you to plan is to bring home OJ and bread after class. We are out, like you now. I’ve known you were gay since you were six, I’ve loved you since you were born.”

He signs it “Dad” and finishes with a post script: “Your mom and I think you and Mike make a cute couple.”

 
Obviously, anonymous. But, the piece has gone viral. It has appeared in other places, but we are pleased to pick it up from Daily Kos with permission.
FAMILY TIES by Beth Rankin

FAMILY TIES by Beth Rankin

Following the Christmas holiday I don’t need to tell YOU that your family is……..well, challenged.  I have one myself. I had an aunt that my mother disliked so much she never talked to her brother but, because of family dynamics, I needed to allow her to sing her warble of some song I didn’t even know at my wedding.  I had another aunt who, in the 1950s got a (whisper here) divorce and all we ever heard was “don’t come running home to us if you have problems with your husband.” Not exactly a helpful life lesson.

So, we all have less than perfect families, and if we are true to form, we don’t do such a great job at parenting. We do what we know, so unless you have sought out a parenting class, you will have a tendency to teach your children in the same dysfunctional way you were raised.

In the interest of changing that here are TEN RULES TO BETTER FAMILY LIFE:

  1. Recognize that the reason you love your friends more than your family is because your friends let you do the shit your mom and dad won’t. That doesn’t mean that shit is good. It still is shit. Your parents literally cleaned up your shit as a baby and into your childhood, but  now it is time for you to realize that your actions have consequences and you really need to accept responsibility. When you grow up, your relationships with the long term people who are on your life path AKA your family, will improve.Illustration by Nate Powell.
  2. Let go of anger. We want to be RIGHT! We want others to know they are WRONG! Let it go. It is not a helpful manner of communication. If you really feel strongly that your little sister or your second cousin is on the road to perdition, sit down calmly, maybe with a cup of lavender tea (ha ha) and ask why they feel their pathway is going to bring them the life they want. LISTEN.  They probably will not come around, but at least you’ll understand better and maybe they will turn to you when they recognize they need to change their ways.being kind
  3. Look in the mirror. Recognize your own flaws. Now praise your skills realistically. Understand that each of us is made of the entire ability spectrum. You and your buddies are not the only ones who can do things right. Even your parents get it right some of the time.looking-in-the-mirror
  4. Learn from others. Yup, even that warbling aunt of mine probably had something worthwhile to share with me……hard for me to imagine but I am remembering her with a child’s memory. If you are an adult, you can go where I was unable to perceive.learning
  5. Look at your children. We watched Home Alone again this Christmas and a few things were obvious to an outsider that the family members did not perceive. Be fair when you think over your kids’ strengths and weaknesses. Don’t have them do what YOU wish you could have done as a kid if they are not interested. Help them develop their own interests. Help them learn to read and research. Your-Kids-Look-up-to-You-for-Guidance
  6. Look at your children again. Help them learn life skills like cooking, sewing buttons and hems, how to wash laundry and iron to press a shirt to make a good appearance,  and how to swim.  A man who expects his wife or girlfriend to do all the cooking does not realize the stress that constant task causes. More importantly, he never sees her face light up in pleasure when he prepares her a nourishing meal. A man who can cook is sexy.LifeSkills-750
  7. Look at your children again. Teach your kids to change their oil and their tires. You may not be that proficient yourself. Learn it together. Your daughters too.  Watch your tendency for sexism. Let your sons and daughters learn they can access the entire array of  arts and skills.Nike-Voices-Feature
  8. Tell stories to your kids. Turn off the television and the electronic gadgets. Have one evening a month (or more) when you gather to share the stories of your childhood. Keep it as upbeat as possible. Your baggage with your parents need not be their baggage.  Tell about adventures you had when you were tested and succeeded. Tell about times you thought you could do something but failed and how you responded to that experience. Let them tell stories too. Use a talking stick to pass the right to talk around the circle. talking stick
  9. Explore together. Food is an excellent vehicle for exploration. Move away from what you know. I remember when we visited England for the first time and I asked for bangers and mash at a pub because I had read about it in numerous British stories,. The server paused and then said, “You know that is nursery food?” In other words, for little kids. That was okay, since it was a new experience for me, but it is not okay for you to turn to mac and cheese every few days. Time to learn new tricks. You are an adult now. You have control over your gag reflex and will not barf into your plate. Really. Taste new things. You need not repeat if you honestly do not like it. But your world will open when you explore the amazing variety of flavors from all over the world. 11646-learning-culture-through-food-mexico
  10. Realize, if you change your ways, your birth family members may make some snarky comments. That’s when you get to practice your smile and say, yeah! I’m doing great and I’m proud of my kids! And mean it.keepgoing
Beth Rankin is, first of all, a mother; freelance craftsperson, blogger, and social activist from McMinnville, Oregon. All illustrations and pictures used with her permission.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TO OUR HONEY BEES? by Shane Fields

WHAT’S HAPPENING TO OUR HONEY BEES? by Shane Fields

I am a younger bee keeper, as in I have had bees for only about six years and just two hives. I have heard a lot about bee problems and have had my own issues to work through with my hives. I have some thoughts of my own and am happy to contribute. Just keep in mind that I am not a scientist with years of research under 173472349my belt. I’m just a plain ‘ol farmer trying to earn my keep!

My first thought is this: Honey bees are not native to North America. Anything forced to live in an ecosystem to which they are not native, even if it has been tens to hundreds of years, will face many difficulties. The hive, as we know it today, is not natural to them and not conducive to their well-being. It is designed to make it easier on the beekeeper for extracting the honey. So, in short, we have taken honey bees out of their native environments, put them in boxes for our own convenience and think the bees should be happy, healthy and thankful for all we have done for them.

Second is, yes, pesticides: There are many different type and applications, most of which are deadly to not only the honey bees, but native pollinators and predatory bugs, amphibians, reptiles, and birds that naturally feed on the “bad bugs”. The most prevalent killer is the 7-dust and similar products. These dusts are easily collected as bees fly through the plants and work the flowers. It gets mixed up in the pollen and taken back to the hive where it poisons and kills the bees.

The second, and by far most dangerous in my own opinion, are root and seed- treating pesticides. These poisons are put on seeds and roots of plants. They are then absorbed into every part of the plant. Its design is simply anything that eats any part of the plant will ingest the poison and die. (Now, I wonder if you could tell me which plants or seeds you have bought and planted recently that have been treated with these kinds of poisons. You know, without good research about the suppliers I wouldn’t know either. They are invisible!) Bees gather up the nectar and pollen from these plants, take them back to the hive, turn them into honey they eat and surprise, surprise–the hive dies. I wonder what would happen to anyone who would go ahead and gather the left over honey and eat it? I am not a fan of any type of poison in the garden.

BUT, for those who are too lazy or too busy to fight the good fight, my thought is simply this: Use a water-based spray pesticide. Wait until the plant has finished blooming to lessen the chance of harming the bees, and spray it on in the evening. By the time the sun is up and the bees are out, the spray will be dried and less likely to be collected by bees. I personally do not and will not use them, period! That is my recommendation.

Third is over management: The number one money-maker with honey bees is not the honey. It’s pollination. It’s too easy and cheap to get sugar-based syrups from overseas and unregulated farms call it “honey.” They sell theirs cheaper than small-timers like me can price the real thing. Farmers will pay bee keepers to pollinate their crops. This symbiotic relationship is wonderful, in my book, except when it becomes migration pollination. As poetic as it sounds, it is, in my opinion, a death sentence to the bees. A honey bee’s life is only months. They actually work themselves to death. (Warning to those who faint at the thought of a thirty- to forty- hour work week!) I can’t see any positive aspects to loading thousands of honey bee hives onto a tractor tailor and driving them all over the country. Honey bees are not natural road-trippers. They only fly up to three miles away from the hive in search of nectar and pollen. So they are stay-at-homers. And, interestingly, they don’t fly back to a physical location. When I work my hives and have to separate them to fix a problem or replace something, the bees become confused. Even though the hive body may be just a foot away from where it always sits, the bees that are coming home with their pollen and nectar fly right to where the hive is supposed to be and seem to hover in bewilderment. They fly to a navigational point–not a physical address. So, when you move the bees around, they get disoriented and many will never make it back to their hives.

A bee keeper told me once, “Ask ten bee keepers the same question and you will get fifteen different answers.” So, I leave you with my thoughts. I have read many articles and have talked to many people and can say that my three points are merely a scratch on the issue about what’s causing today’s bee problems. The best advice I can give is simply this: We need more people having just one or two bee hives, more people using less poisons in their gardens and supporting those who are!