Smorgasbord – Something to Think About – The R’s of Life – Survival in the Modern World – Reason! by Sally Cronin


Welcome to another R’s of life… and this week I have selected the word Reason….and it is a word that has many facets as demonstrated by Dictionary.com

Noun –  A basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event, etc.: the reason for declaring war. Or a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action:

Verb- To think or argue in a logical manner. To form conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises.

Reason as a justification

Surprisingly few of us as part of a global population have the right to worship as we choose: Right to Freedom of Speech and Religion

But unfortunately, just because you have the right to worship your god, does not mean those who worship another, are not going to find a reason persecute you for it.

It has become a tragic fact of our modern world, that a handful of extremists believe that they have the right to commit violence because of differing beliefs. Radicalisation of the young, vulnerable and poorest elements of society goes against any true religious teachings.

The cornerstone of most religions, including those that have a radicalised minority, is peace, mercy and harmony with others.

To that end certain rules or commandments were laid down long ago that attempted to ensure that peace and harmony existed amongst the believers as well as those outside the religion.

For example, the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament were carved in stone and instilled in the faithful are an ancient example of this. The story of how Moses came into possession of these commandments is a Sunday School favourite, but however they were introduced, their intent remains the same.

I am not a religious expert, but I believe that most religions have something similar in their teachings.

‘I also believe if we all obeyed commandments 5 through 10 the world would be a better place!’

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall make no idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

The dark side of the commandments….

Apart from the benevolent aspect to these commandments, there is also the element of control it gave leaders of religions over their flocks. It enabled them to wield power and a reason to demonstrate their power if you failed to fall into line.

Let’s face it, if you want to manage thousands of people, what better way than to develop a stick and carrot approach to their devotion.Some high priests even persuaded the members of their gatherings that it was an honour to be chosen to be sacrificed and to go straight to the land of the gods. Something that unfortunately is making a comeback.

There are more subtle but equally effective ways to maintain control, including using an ancient language that nobody understands for all your religious services, maintaining the mystery for hundreds of years!  A congregation had no reason to question the teachings or rituals performed generation after generation.

Certainly those that did question such practices and the breaking of most of the commandments could have dire consequences, usually ending in death. In some countries it still does!

Sometimes just an accusation of breaking the commandments could result in death, and religious courts were not known for mercy, including the  Inquisition which began in 1478 and lasted 350 years.

Even the law has taken these commandments very seriously and has used them as a reason to remove unwanted members of society. Stealing a loaf of bread for your starving family was not seen as an adequate reason, and could find you on a boat to Australia.

Even in our lifetime, these very commandments intended to create a harmonious society we could all live within, have been broken numerous times by governments, including inciting two world wars and genocide.

If somebody does not believe in our rules…. then they must be in the wrong!

We are allegedly the most intelligent species on earth with a capacity to reason. This means resolve issues logically, with knowledge gained or discovered, with awareness of consequences and with a positive outcome in mind.

But that only works if there are not people in power willing to manipulate the truth for their own means. And never easier than today, with the world wide web at their disposal, to disperse their agenda to millions of receptive individuals.

Most of us like to think that we can reason things out for ourselves, but we are being manipulated in most areas of our lives from the food that we buy, the utility company we use, the clothes on our back, who we vote for, whether we vaccinate our children or not, our body image and crucially who we want excluded from our society.

Some examples of how a population can be manipulated.

Brexit and the fear campaign in the press and social media by those in power on both sides of the divide. The leavers managed to get a 52% victory over the remainers at 48% by hitting the voters with the disadvantages and horrors of staying within the EU.

  1. Brussels would continue to control our legal system and force new draconian laws on us as a nation.
  2. Brussels would impose more regulation on our lifestyle from capping the power of vacuum cleaners, the price on beer, to the wattage of our light bulbs.
  3. That the open borders meant that UK jobs were in danger from migrant workers from the EU and a massive increase in unemployment and billions on the welfare bill.
  4. That open borders encouraged more immigration from non-EU countries putting a huge burden on services such as the NHS.
  5. That the UK would be impacted by the financial issues in other EU countries such as Greece.
  6. That the European parliament was a massive black hole that cost billions annually to support.
  7. And most compelling was the argument that the British were losing their identity, something that they had fought hard for during two world wars.
  8. There was already a dislike of the leaders of the EU who were portrayed in the press as treating our own politicians with disrespect.
  9. There was also the fear that Britain would be absorbed into the union and be governed by countries that were traditional enemies.

The Remainers were also busy instilling fear in the voters if we didn’t stay in the EU

  1. The price of holidays in Europe will go up substantially.
  2. Telephone charges when on holiday will go up.
  3. The cost of importing cars, electrical goods, our gas, French wines and cheese would cost £100s more each family per year.
  4. Everything from medicines to toilet paper would run out (people have already started hording). Food would only last a week.
  5. Tourism would drop in the UK as it would become too expensive for visitors.
  6. We would have to pay billions to the EU as part of the divorce package that was money needed to bail out the NHS.
  7. There would be a hard border between Northern and Southern Ireland which could result in damage to the peace process.
  8. There would be a loss of the European cross border co-operation on policing, terrorism etc putting the UK at risk.
  9. The UK would be unable to secure trade deals with non-EU partners to make up the shortfall from current deals.
  10. We would be militarily isolated should there be a need to defend the UK in the future.

Now after three years of shambolic negotiations we seem to be at an impasse!

The British public were not given all the facts to make an informed and reasoned decision before the referendum that was called too early, and they were spoon fed a fear campaign based on their lifestyles and personal pockets.

Britain is not alone in this method of information dispersal and hence the term ‘Fake News’

Now imagine that you are even more at a disadvantage because you only have the verbal communication from those in power to go on! The Globe and Mail

The world is a small place for someone who can’t read. Basic signage, medication labels, job applications: They all become inaccessible, and the chances of a healthy and productive life are slim. Life expectancy increases as a result of literacy and the United Nations considers it a human right.

In 2010, the global rate of adult literacy climbed to 84 per cent. Still, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the agency that monitors literacy around the world, cautions that even as the world celebrates International Literacy Day this Saturday, there are still reasons for concern.

There are 775 million people in the world who are illiterate, with another 152 million children set to follow in their footsteps because they aren’t attending school.

Admittedly the highest rates for illiteracy are in sub-Saharan countries but the USA and the UK have not got a great deal to be proud about. BrandonGaille.com

1. 32 million adults can not read in the United States equal to 14% of the population.
2. 21% of US adults read below the 5th grade level.
3. 19% of high school graduates can not read.
4. 85% of juveniles who interact with the juvenile court system are considered functionally illiterate.
5. 70% of inmates in America’s prisons can not read above the fourth grade level.

and in the UK Literacy Trust

16.4% of adults in England, or 7.1 million people, can be described as having ‘very poor literacy skills.’ They can understand short straightforward texts on familiar topics accurately and independently, and obtain information from everyday sources, but reading information from unfamiliar sources, or on unfamiliar topics, could cause problems.

33.7 million voted in the Brexit referendum with 52% (17.4m) voting to leave and 48% (16.1m) to remain. A close vote. The number of eligible voters in the UK is 46 million which means that 12 million did not vote. We will never know if the 7.1 people in the UK who have poor literacy skills voted or not. But with only 1.3 million disparity, it might have changed the outcome.

Now there are millions who have changed their minds and say that if they had known the facts at the time they would have voted to remain! Hindsight is a wonderful thing but truthful communications from those in power is also a rare commodity these days.

This post was about reason…. as a justification for our actions, our attitude to those who do not believe in the same god as we do, and also as a tool to determine our personal and national futures.

We have rules and we might consider that most of them are archaic or unsustainable but the basic ones were designed to ensure social harmony and it is our responsibility to abide by them.

That being said…. it is those in power who are the most guilty of not abiding by these basic laws as they find it easy to manipulate them for the wrong reasons.

When it comes to determining our own future and that of our countries, we need to be as informed as possible before voting for political parties and participating in referendums that will have critical consequences.

And if we are to demand that people make informed decisions about their own lives and the direction their country is heading, there should be considerably more resources made available for education, not just for children but the millions of our populations who are functionally illiterate.

More education is also required on the necessity to vote in major elections or referendums. I would be very open to it becoming a required action without a justifiable reason for abstaining!

It also means not taking anything we hear or read at face value. Asking questions is part of the reasoning process and we all need to take better advantage of any opportunity to do so.

These views are entirely my own and are not intended to offend anyone’s religion or political preferences.. but I am sure it will result in some discussion… thanks Sally.

 

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – A Dozen Daughters: My Mother’s Other Family by Marian Beaman.


Time for the second post in the archive series for Marian Beaman. In this post Marian shares her parents commitment to making a difference to others. David and I have an expression that we use frequently “Walking the Talk”. Very often you will hear or read about the religious beliefs of individuals whether they be Anglican, Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Muslim etc. What is important however, is how they put those beliefs into practice. Something that Marian’s parents have done amazingly.

A Dozen Daughters: My Mother’s Other Family by Marian Beaman

Longenecker family portrait circa 1961: Mark, Marian, Janice, Jean with parents

This is the family I grew up in: my parents Ray and Ruth with my two sisters and one brother. But after I left home and eventually married, my parents had more children. No, my mother was not a modern-day Sarah. She didn’t have babies in old age. But in their early sixties, Mother and Daddy “adopted” another set of children, about a dozen daughters in all, through an agency called New Life for Girls.

Because they entered my parents’ lives after I left home, I never felt jealous of them. They were simply unknown to me, mysterious. Oh, I did meet two of them, Gloria and Julie. They came to see my mother when she visited her first two grandsons born in Chicago in 2003. By then these girls both had grown children of their own.

Gloria’s Story

Gloria grew up in inner city Chicago with an alcoholic father who beat her mother and more than once tried to choke her with a dog chain. Her mother, single now with 8 children to feed, had to go to work. Alone in the world, Gloria turned to drugs and men, looking for love. She set her sights on rich men, men she hoped would take care of her. But the rich men were users, drug dealers or worse. Not surprisingly, Gloria became pregnant at age 14.

One day an evangelist named Brother Raymond, came into Gloria’s neighborhood. She responded to this kind man’s message of salvation and made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Though her heart had changed, Gloria’s life didn’t get any easier. Several times she slid back into her old ways and had more babies out of wed-lock. The hard times made her harder. She became tough as nails, always looking for a fight.

Finally, Brother Raymond suggested a way out. “There is an agency called New Life for Girls in Pennsylvania that might help you get your life on track. To enter their program though you would have to agree to their rules and stick by them. Also, your children would be staying in a separate facility.”

Gloria: “Oh no, I can’t be separated from my children!”

Brother Raymond: “Well, then we’ll try to find a host family for you, so that on weekends you can visit with them in a nice Christian home in the country.”

And that’s how my parents’ lives intersected with Gloria’s.

Weekends with the Longeneckers

Gloria was looking for an anchor and she found one in her weekend visits to the Longenecker family on Anchor Road near Elizabethtown. Pennsylvania. Most importantly, she could be with her children. Mother and Daddy would pick Gloria up at the train station with her four children who played with toys including the same marble-roller I played with as a child.

Gloria’s grand-children playing with the same marble-roller we had as children:
Demetri 12, Inani 13, and Samantha 10.

And she could enjoy Lancaster County abundance. “This is how life should be,” Gloria exclaims as she recalls some of her favorite things:

  • Going to Root’s Sale where fresh farm produce abounds.
  • Helping Mom make applesauce with her metal sieve and wooden mallet.
  • Turning the crank on the ice cream churn, always vanilla with Hershey’s chocolate syrup and peanut sprinkles.
  • Helping with quilting at Bossler’s Mennonite Church Sewing Circle.
  • Eating fresh corn on the cob – and fresh tomatoes out of the garden, both dripping juice.
  • Making tangy home-made root beer from Hires Root Beer Extract, the two-quart jars cooling on their sides in the cellar.
  • Having devotions with my parents on Sunday morning after which my dad would march over to the piano and bang out the melody to “Fill My Cup, Lord,” singing at the top of his lungs.
  • Following the Longenecker rules. And to the letter.

My brother Mark still lived at home when Gloria and her children visited, so she got some first-hand tips on getting children to obey. When Mark questioned Mother about why he had to get up and go to church Sunday morning, Mom would reply, “Because you’re in my house and that is the rule.”

But Gloria recalls Mother’s softer side when she tearfully called her at one point to break the news about yet another unplanned pregnancy: “She never criticized me; she stood by me, and said “’You just have to trust that God is still in control.’”

Gloria Araujo in kitchen with Mother (age 95) April 2014

Gloria Today

Over the years, Gloria has told her own children and grand-children this same bold statement when they question her authority: “Because you’re in my house and that is the rule.” And she teaches her clients how to use firm discipline with their children in her role as a social worker at The First Baptist Church of Wheaton, Illinois, where she has recently been appointed deaconess.

Now I work with many Cuban refugees, help them get into an apartment, find jobs and medical aid—set them on the right track. It feels so good to see lives changed,” she says.

In Retrospect

In a little green autograph book sitting on one of Mother’s living room end tables are listed all the names of the girls from New Life my parents have hosted. This April in her recent visit, Gloria noticed that her name was the first one to be signed in 1978, along with her sister Julie’s. After the signatures of 11-12 other girls, she signed the book again. “It’s only suitable that I sign the last page,” she says.

Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature:

the old things are passed away; behold, all things become new.

​​2 Corinthians 5:17

Huge thanks to Marian for sharing this story of her parents who definitely ‘walked the talk’ giving girls who had very little chance in life, a new narrative and way forward.

©Marian Beaman 2014

About Marian Beaman

At one point as a teacher at Lancaster Mennonite School, I was addressed as Sister Longenecker. Then I turned fancy and became Beaman after marrying a blue-eyed, blonde-haired German boy from Washington State. His original artwork often appears on my pages. I wrote about our unlikely meeting here.

My love of books, along with a connection to students and colleagues, has made my years in education pure joy. I have spent more than 40 years teaching, finishing my career with 21 years at Florida State College in Jacksonville.

Writing dovetails with reading and teaching. My academic writing includes a multi-colored array of topics, ranging from “A Thousand Acres: Not King Lear in a Cornfield” for the American Popular Culture Association and “It’s Not Easy Being Green, Wal-Mart and Me,” recounting my neighborhood struggle to keep large oaks and tall pines from biting the dust.

Former Mennonite with a Writing Habit

A dream came true when I presented and published “God: Myth and Mystery from the Romantics through the Twentieth Century: Informing Global Religious Conflict” in magical Oxford, England. In 2011 Bedford St. Martin’s textbooks published “Facilitating Cooperative Learning,” the mantra of my most effective teaching techniques.

Now in my Third Act, I’ve embraced creative non-fiction with “Gutsy In Ukraine,” published in Sonia Marsh’s My Gutsy Story Anthology (2014), Volume 2. In September 2016, my story “Making Love Edible: Lessons from Fanny Martin Longenecker” was published in The Mennonite magazine.

Since beginning my blog in 2013, I’ve uncovered nostalgic photos, letters, and artifacts from my two Longenecker homes in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, many of which are featured here on my blog.

I publish my blog Plain and Fancy Girl on Wednesdays. Whether you are a commenter or reader only, I appreciate your noticing. Scroll down and subscribe to my weekly blog.

My work in progress is tentatively titled Tomato Girl, a memoir that reveals family secrets. I don’t think the title quite fits my story. You can contact me to make a better suggestion or offer a comment.

Connect to Marian

Website/Blog: http://marianbeaman.com/
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/martabeaman
Facebookhttps://facebook.com/marianbeaman   (All my weekly blogposts are published publicly on Facebook.)
Rifflebookshttps://www.rifflebooks.com/profiles/136032  (I have published 111 book reviews on this site.)

I am now looking for archive posts for the festive season.. short stories fiction and non-fiction, food and recipes, humour, memorable Christmas’s etc.  Please send one or two posts to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.. I will be resuming the regular archive series in the New Year.  Thanks Sally.

The R’s of Life – Chapter Eleven -Right to Freedom of Speech and Religion


The R's of Life

According to the Bill of Human Rights we are all entitled to Freedom of Speech and to follow a religion of our choice. As I have highlighted in previous chapters, these rights come with  certain obligations that we need to fulfil to enjoy them to the fullest.

We are all free to speak our minds in private, but that does not necessarily mean we will get away with it in public!  It depends on what your government has deemed as a subject you can voice your opinion about outside your own four walls!

For example in the UK:Any communication which is threatening or abusive, and is intended to harass, alarm, or distress someone is forbidden. The penalties for hate speech include fines, imprisonment, or both’.

In some countries freedom of speech is completely denied to a population and any infractions dealt with severely; in some cases with death. Religion too is not exempt from rigorous penalties rained down on individuals as well as groups of worshippers.

I am sure that like me, you would never condone any speech or piece of writing that incited hatred to any group or individuals, whether it is racially offensive or is going to cause distress. However, it is becoming more of a minefield, as there are a great many subjects that have been added to the list of offensive topics all coming under the term ‘Politically Correct’.

In some schools for example, traditional activities such as nativity plays and Christmas carol services have been suspended so as not to offend those in the school who are not Christian. I don’t understand why we cannot be grown up about this and have a celebration with elements of all the religions represented by the pupils! Perhaps a celebration of spirituality and winter…… or would that be considered pagan?

I think we are all aware that most of the world’s conflicts since the dawn of time, have been primarily down to two main contributory factors. Politics and religion. There is a good reason they are usually banned from the dinner table.  Nothing sparks off a heated debate than everyone expressing their freedom of speech on those two subjects between courses.

Millions around the world do not have freedom of speech and men and women are effectively gagged from talking about politics or practising religion. It is unimaginable to me, how terrifying it must be to have to guard every word that you say and to keep your family safe in that environment.

However it is a sad fact that some of us who enjoy the right to speak our minds frequently misuse its power. Both on a personal level  and now, courtesy of the Internet, on a much wider scale.

Of course some members of our communities take their right to freedom of speech to extremes. The paparazzi for example, who feel that they have the right to intrude into people’s lives and dish the dirt even when they do not have the facts.. Sometimes they exercise their right by simply publishing a photograph with an ambiguous headline and let our imagination do the rest.  Even alleged mainstream media lean to left or right according to their financial and political affiliations rather than editorial responsibility, and there is a definitely a manipulation of facts and statistics when it comes to the political and financial institutions that govern our day to day life.

But is it not just the major media organisations who manipulate the truth to cause dissent or to stir up friction between communities. It is easy to for us as individuals to create barriers before we even begin communicating with others online.

We seem to be fixated with creating labels for ourselves and others. Certainly on official paperwork we have to define ourselves as White, Black, Asian Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Mormon, Quaker, Catholic, Irish, English, Scottish, disabled, Gay, married, single, divorced, widowed, retired or all of the above!

But we seem to be doing this in our personal lives too. I look at the profiles of some people that approach me to connect and they appear to want to belong to as many groups as possible. Even if I was meeting them for the first time face to face, I wouldn’t have an interest in their colour, religion, sexuality, political affiliations or that they are a feminist or manist! These terms do not describe a person, only the labels they have adopted that they feel defines them. There are some things that I deem as private and don’t believe belong in a persons Facebook or blog profile.

Personally I would like to know more about what makes them a human being. What areas would we both be interested in such as books, writing, the cinema, love of animals, sport, meeting new people and learning more about others. I don’t want to know about the groups or labels that might highlight our differences before we get into some form of relationship to establish how much we have in common.

What happened to the joy of belonging to the human race?

A lack of tolerance and respect for others probably raised its ugly head as humans and Neanderthals began to inhabit the same terrain around 45,000 years ago. There is some evidence that the two groups did co-exist for around 5,000 years and very probably did cohabit too. There are genetic links to a tiny proportion of modern day man that supports that theory. However, the investigation into the mystery as to why Neanderthals became extinct is still ongoing. One theory is that the modern humans migrated in as the earth warmed up and pushed the Neanderthals out over time.

Chances are that modern man wanted nice cozy caves, rich hunting grounds near to flowing rivers and established plants and fruits. It may have taken them 5000 years but in the end they got what they wanted. Including the freedom to live, worship and survive without the complication of a group with a different perspective and needs making life difficult. That was just two groups working against each other.. We now have thousands of factions all shouting about their needs and beliefs; it is no wonder that the world is in chaos.

Then of course there were the gods who have maintained their presence in our lives throughout the history of man in many guises. One group would worship the moon and others the sun and fall out over it. Some believed that their gods lived on mountains and were omnipotent.. Others felt that throwing some poor individual, preferably a virgin, into a fiery volcano would appease these legendary beings. Wars have been fought, some cultures wiped out and many of these early religions disappeared completely. However, after thousands of years, we are still following this tried and tested method to get people to join our gang or suffer the consequences.

Thankfully most people agree to differ, respect each other’s beliefs and live and let live. Yet there is an element of every society, who have defined themselves by their interpretation of a religion, and take the moral high ground, expecting everyone else to convert. There have been extremists in every religion on earth and it will always be so.

There are some individuals who assume that freedom of speech entitles them to say whatever they like, whenever they like and to whomever they like. Because of course, their political, personal or religious views are the one true path. And despite all the laws enacted against hate crimes or inflammatory language, we do not seem to be becoming any more tolerant.

You don’t even have to get up close and personal. The Internet provides a wonderful platform for free speech despite the new legislation. Which is why cyberbullying is such a popular sport and that the main casualties are young people. Words can be brutal and young people in particular of both sexes have not concept of how devastating their comments can be to someone of their own age.

  • Over the last three years there has been an 87 % increase in the number of Childline’s counselling sessions about online bullying.
  • 40% of 7 to11 year old respondents know someone who has been cyberbullied .
  • 7 in 10 young people aged between 13 and 22 have been a victim of cyberbullying .
  • An estimated 5.43 million young people in the UK have experienced cyberbullying, with 1.26 million subjected to extreme cyberbullying on a daily basis

The statistics for bullying of gay students is even more concerning.

  • Over two in five gay pupils who experience homophobic bullying attempt or think about taking their own life as a direct consequence  Three in five young people say that bullying has a direct impact on their school work and straight-A students have told us it makes them want to leave education entirely
  • More than half (55 per cent) of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people experience homophobic bullying in Britain’s schools
  • Ninety six per cent of gay pupils hear homophobic remarks such as ‘poof’ or ‘lezza’ used in school. Almost all (99 per cent) hear phrases such as ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’ in school http://www.antibullyingpro.com/blog/2015/4/7/facts-on-bullying

Of course bullying is not the only misuse of the freedom of speech. Many suicides of young people are because they do not wear the right label. They do not belong to the accepted in crowd, and because they are different, they are ostracised and isolated.

Added to this is the continuous bombardment by the media, across all communication devices, of the devastating results of human intolerance. The young of today face a climate of fear and uncertainty for the future that has never been experienced before in human history on this scale.  Is this really the world we want our young to inherit from us?

In the United States a young person commits suicide every two hours 11 minutes

Everyday 11 young people will commit suicide.

1 in 12 students attempted suicide in the last year.

It is tough to imagine that we as an individual can make a difference to the world and its chaos. But we can certainly make sure that we and those close to us understand that freedom of speech is a ‘right’ to be treasured. A right that when exercised with thoughtfulness, can positively change things that are broken, instil trust and understanding with others. We can set an example and be role models for our children and those we meet that have a different view of life and religion that we do.

We are too far down the road for this to change overnight. Some of the conflicts that are currently fuelled by hatred and intolerance may not be resolved without more violence but we have to start somewhere and that is right here and right now.  We need to choose the words that we speak and write more carefully and treasure the right we have to use them in the first place.

At the end of the day there is only one true fact and that is we belong to just one group and the label reads Human Race.

Sources for statistics on bullying and suicide

http://www.antibullyingpro.com/blog/2015/4/7/facts-on-bullying
https://www.teachervision.com/education-and-social-issues/mental-health/57131.html

The previous ten chapters can be read here:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-rs-of-life-new-book-by-sally-cronin/

Thanks for dropping in and reading this latest chapter in my book..Sally

 

What Does The World Need Now? With Kim Gosselin author and blogger


Welcome to What Does the World Need Now? In this series I decided to ask the people that I have come to know through blogging and social media to offer their opinions of what they feel is troubling this world of ours. I also asked them to share their ideas and views on how we might move forward to leave behind a better world for the next generation. The subject is very broad, since we seem to have so many issues that need addressing, and I have left it to my guests to choose their own selection. The aim is to find as many differing views and opinions as possible including those regarding politics, religion, education and other social issues.

3a34843

Today my guest is Kim Gosselin from the Greater St. Louis area of the United States. She is an award winning author, blogger and public speaker

Like most of the bloggers that I follow, Kim has a wonderful way with words and it is clear that family values, community and care for others are very high on her list of priorities.

Kim has loved books from an early age and at college she also felt at home on the stage in plays and musical theatre. As a young mother, she found that life had some challenges for her to face when her two young children suffered from chronic conditions. Insulin dependent diabetes and asthma.

To educate others parents and children, Kim set up a successful business writing and producing picture books explaining the conditions. Over the next seven years Kim wrote 16 children’s books and published a total of 26 titles successfully marketing over 3 million books. Eventually, the family and her growing sons required more of her attention and Kim sold the company to a New York Publishing house while retaining her author’s copyright.

diabetes at school

However Kim has been very much involved with organisations that focus on children’s health and is a former board member of The American Diabetes Foundation and The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In fact one of her titles, Taking Diabetes to School, is still being lovingly dropped into JDRF’s “Bag of Hope” as a gift to newly diagnosed children even today, nearly 20 years after being written.

Her grown family and grand-children and a “Doodle” Dog are now the recipients of undivided love and attention and it is family that I wanted to ask Kim about first before moving onto the four core elements of the interview.

Thank you Kim for joining us today. You talk about your family in your blogs and it is clear that you are all very close. Can you tell us about your childhood and teen years and what key experiences and people made the most impression on you and how they have influenced you as an adult?

Thank you for having me, Sally. I am so honoured to be asked. Yes, family is a number one priority for me. I am the oldest of five children with thirteen years between myself and the “baby boy” of the family.

When I was 15 months old, my younger brother was born with a hole in his heart. Back then, doctors wouldn’t do surgery until he was a toddler of three. All those months and years my young mother lived with two babies, not knowing if her youngest would survive. His fragile condition probably triggered her life of mental struggles. Although she was the best mother possible to all five of us, she never truly escaped her demons. To this day, Sally, I have great sadness for her needless suffering. How ironic that at babyhood, my fate was set to live a life honored by Chronic Conditions. I use the word, “Honored,” because the people I’ve met through life and work, together with my relatives and my children have amazed me in so many ways. I’ve been blessed, Sally.

sisters

Kim and her sisters as close as ever.

As a child a favorite past-time was using my imagination to play make-believe, probably an escape in some sort of way. I loved telling stories to friends in overgrown fields or putting on plays in our basement for little ones. When Labor Day came around, the neighborhood kids gathered to raise money for Jerry Lewis by putting on carnivals for MDA. My friends chose me to be the Fortune Teller every year, sitting me at a covered card table with a plastic “crystal ball” on top. Beneath it was a slot hiding each child’s school photo, depending on who sat across from me. After telling someone’s fortune, I’d yank off the colored scarf to reveal the chosen one’s picture! Red heads or blondes would plunk down quarters before running away, screaming with eyes all a ’wide. So fun it was, Sally!!

During my pre-teen years I discovered the magic of reading, where I spent hours hiding in our three-story historical library. Throughout the years I devoured everything from picture books to heavy volumes of Shakespeare.   Whenever visiting home, I hurry to skip flights of stairs in order to run fingers across spines of weathered books. Such memories live in that building!

Upon entering high school I met extraordinary teachers who left great impressions on me. Although none of us knew it at the time, fate was already stepping in. Together, they gave me that certain ‘spark’ in life, helping me to believe that anything was possible. Dreams and wishes came true at a later date when creativity was needed to form a children’s publishing company for kids living with chronic conditions and/or special needs.

Parenting in this modern age is more challenging than ever before. What do you believe are the key elements to bringing up children safely and with the ability to fulfil their potential?

First of all, it’s definitely a tough balance. So much has changed from the time I raised my own children. And, my baby grandchildren are being raised even differently. Sadly, it isn’t possible for kids to be brought up as freely as when we were children. At the same time, I would never want to instil ‘fear’ in child. Awareness is key. Education is a must, but at the appropriate age levels. Even kids as young as toddlers of two can begin to learn the difference between proper touching, stranger danger, and when to say, “NO!”

As your children grow and convey their wishes and dreams, encourage them to believe in such. If you do, they will to! Help them to the best of their ability, but be careful not to push a long-lost fantasy of your own into their hearts. If they choose to be a waste management supervisor with gusto and happiness, let them “Go for it!” It never mattered what “degree” my children earned in life, the most important thing to me was their health and happiness. Of course, being able to support themselves financially was always nice too!

The theme behind the show is to discover the varied views of people of all ages and all walks of life on how we might improve the world for those who follow us.

Firstly, perhaps you could tell us about the most useful lesson that you learned in life and how it has impacted you both as an adult and a parent?

Wow! That is a hard one, as I’ve learned so many Life Lessons, particularly while raising chronically ill children. If I had to choose just one, Sally, I believe it would be to “let go of things I can’t control.” There was once a time when I was having great difficulty trying to cope with helping my children through their illnesses. I was worn out. Spent. A very wise therapist took my shaking hands in the two of her own and brushed my weeping eyes one by one to look directly into the soul of them. “Kim,” she said, “No matter what you do, you cannot save them. Only God can do that.” For the very first time in many years I ‘got it.’ Finally, I had permission to ‘let go,’ to live my life and join the family who long awaited me. God would take care of the rest.

There are many issues that are very concerning about the present and the future of the world. It is clear that health is an important issue for you but I am going to put you on the spot and ask you to name three key areas of life that you consider are vitally in need of focus and how you feel we might improve and resolve the issues going forward?

1. Adversity and Tolerance: I’ve always considered myself to be a people person, loving and respectful of all faiths and religions, colors and races, creeds and ethnicities. Everyone is welcome in my home. Yet I live in a city very near the area where protests and riots have taken place for many months. Sadly, I see no end in sight. “Justice” seems to be a word without meaning, for no one can agree on the same definition. All that has taken place in this city that I love and share with others…is this truly the answer? People tell me that unrest has always existed here, lurking beneath the surface which saddens my heart. Now it often propels to an unimaginable magnitude. Protests have left hardworking proprietor’s businesses in ruins or completely without patrons. Buildings have been burned to the ground, some by surrounding neighbors. Others are painted with graffiti or boarded-up and empty.

Yes, I understand anger and I certainly understand frustration in life. I understand the right to free speech and respect everyone’s right to protest. What I do not understand is the rationale behind all of the destruction in the very neighborhood where the protesting is taking place. Isn’t there a better way? How does this help anyone? What does this solve? Please explain this to me…please?   What about the innocents who are trying to make an honest living, the children going to school or toddlers who wish to ride a trike? How about the elderly who lay awake because they cannot sleep and now have no place left to shop? Who will be there to help them? I try so hard to understand. Why can no one come together?

I don’t know how this can be resolved. “Experts” from all over our nation, even the world, have been wracking their brains, discussing the issues on television or have been out among the public grasping for answers. No one wants to ‘budge,’ Sally. Globally it seems to be the same when it all should be so very easy. Meet with one another. Shake a hand. Learn to trust. Someone has to begin a conversation. Don’t be afraid to join in! Hug your neighbors. Look each other in the eye. Really look at one another. Be human for God’s sake. People are people. Love each other. In reference to your song, Sally. “What the World Needs Now…. Oh, if it were only that easy….

2. Technology: The very ideals to make our lives easier have made things more difficult in many ways.   Technology was supposed to give us “more time.” Instead, many of us seem to have less time.   Does it even make sense???   Send an e-mail or text someone. In an instant the receiving end expects an immediate answer. Our children and grandchildren have no down time, Sally.   I never see my children able to relax or take a break. I worry about them being over-stimulated. Will the next generation and the one after that all end up being medicated some day for anxiety? Is it all just too much???   What about our grandchildren? Is it possible for a little one to curl in a cosy corner to read words upon a paper page? Can kids in a group of four play a board game or watch a movie in a theatre with popcorn in their hands??? Wherever I go I see little fingers moving up and down, back and forth. They’re swiping to the right and punching ever so light.   Listen, Sally….You can almost hear the “tap-tap-tapping and click-click-clicking” sounds from early dawn until the dark of night.

For our children and grandchildren this technology will be their normal, I suppose.
They will know nothing else, which is good in a way. We will have to tell them stories of “the old days,” Sally, when we were young. When books were read from pages held in the two of our hands. When “play” was riding bikes till dark or running in the sand.

Technology will continue to improve. It will get better. Faster and smaller, easier and
more efficient. Our children will adapt to all of this change without any problems, hopefully. I must remember the most important lesson I’ve learned in life,“Do not worry about things I cannot control.”

 3. Government Waste: Although I vote, I’m not much of a political junkie. Still, I see so much waste within the Government that it often makes me sick to my stomach. I’m all for helping those in need, but it bothers me terribly to know of so many who could physically work but simply choose not to because they get a check in the mail each month. Cycles and cycles of families, men and women who literally make excuse after excuse why they can’t get a job. “I don’t have a car.” I do have a car, but I’m sick this week.” “My boss yelled at me.” “I can’t work with a baby at home.” “They want me to work, but why bother???” It never ends, Sally.

Not only do people get money for food and shelter, they get free health care together with much, much more. The cycle continues. As their children grow older, they too learn the system, often repeating it. I’ve even seen third generations repeating the cycle! Personally, I know of many who have sold their food and/or shelter assistance for drugs. Afterwards, additional help comes in from parents or relatives who are in denial until another government check rolls in.

There is so much abuse of the system that it would take major efforts on both sides of our Congress to try to solve even a tiny drop in the bucket of water waste before any help begins.

What I would love to see happen is for every welfare recipient pass a spot-on drug test before they are ever handed a check. I know, “the check is in the mail.” So how is this supposed to happen? Well, Sally, I never said I had all the answers….just a few ideas.

As a final word do you have a piece of advice or perhaps a quotation that you would like to share?

Yes, I believe if everyone followed the Bible verse below, much of what we’ve just discussed could easily be solved. “What Does the World Need Now?

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Thank you very much for having me, Sally. It’s been a true pleasure.

LINKS
Website-http://www.kimgosselin.com/
Blog- http://kimgosselinblog.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/realkimgosselin
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/kimgosselinblog

My thanks to Kim for her thoughtful insights on how we might all make a difference to not just our neighbourhood today but on a more global scale in the future when we hand over the reins to the next generations.  It is clear from her views that we all have very similar issues in most of our home countries and local communities.  Perhaps we should all stop inventing the wheel and put our combined heads together to resolve these important challenges. It needs feet on the ground and common sense collaborations at all levels and more publicity for those projects that are desperately trying to make a difference.

Please comment as both Kim and I would welcome your views and if you wish to share and reblog please fire away – make our day.

Have a safe and happy week.   Best wishes Sally