2016: The Annus Horribilis, vol. 2

In 1992, Her Majesty The Queen opened a speech with these words:  “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.  In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis.  I sometimes wonder how future generations will judge the events of this tumultuous year.”  I’m not sure about you, my dear reader, but I believe these words could also describe our look back at the aftermath of 2016.

I think this past year can be summed up in four words:  what the heck happened?!?  While I realize that my memory isn’t one for the record books, I don’t remember a year where we’ve dealt with more hatred, death, bitterness,division and all-around disappointment than we have this year.

On a personal note, this is the year I lost my last living grandparent. My grandma on my father’s side passed away on June 10.  Her health declined rather quickly in the last few weeks of her life, but I’m so grateful to have been able to see her and talk with her before she passed.  It will be I time I shall forever hold dear to my heart.

This year marked a milestone for me.  After over ten years at the same job, I made a move to another office.  So instead of being an oncology nurse, I’m now in pulmonary.

But enough about me, on to the rest of the world…

We’ve dealt with the Flint, Michigan water crisis, which started when high levels of lead was found in the citizens water supply.  Trying to fix it became no easy task, and to this day, the poor people living there are still having to deal with the red tape and other day-to-day problems this has caused.

The Powerball lottery reached a record 1.6 billion (yes, that’s Billion, with a “B”), and I didn’t win one red cent of it.Powerball Lottery

A bunch of redneck he-hanks in Oregon, led by some Jethro Bodine wannabe, decided they wanted to go live in a wildlife preserve to protest the government not letting them do whatever it was they wanted to do on federal property.  They became such a laughing stock by not thinking their little sit-in completely through and going on youtube or wherever asking people to send them supplies, that they were actually sent, get this… boxes upon boxes of dildos!  Eventually, their great leader was caught outside the compound with a few others in his car when they were pulled over for a minor traffic violation.  Things went from bad to worse when one of them got testy and decided he wanted to run towards the cop and throw a hissy-fit (or something along those lines, I forget) and get himself shot. Things went downhill from there.  Let’s just say they’re all in jail now, or on trial, or both.A pro-militia supporter holds a constitution while chanting

This year we saw a rise in police shootings in the black community, which brought about the Black Lives Matter movement to counteract the shootings. Then, an All Lives Matter movement started to counteract the Black Lives Matter movement.  Throughout the entire year I’ve seen my friends go back-and-forth with each other over who was right and who was wrong. Personally I think that having sunk to the point of needing either movement and not automatically treating each other as equals and having mutual respect for one another, is a sad commentary on where we are as a society.2015-09-04-1441395137-7049687-image3

A new game came out on smart phones everywhere called, Pokemon GO.  If I understand it correctly, you run around with your phone catching imaginary pokemons, and he who has the most, wins.  People were running around like they had lost their ever-loving minds, standing in the middle of roads, running onto others private property, and even falling off cliffs to their death trying to catch these things. I don’t know about you, but trying to catch some Peek-a-choo, Peak-at-you, Hoochi-hoo, Coochie-Coo, or whatever they’re called isn’t enticing enough for me to risk my life.  Thank you, but I’ll pass on this one.1-go-300x169-jpg

The biggest news, for myself anyway, is the vote in Great Britain to leave the European Union.  The “Brexit” vote, as it had become known, came as a surprise to practically everyone, since all the pollsters predicted the victory would go to the “stay” campaign. Ironically, it was only AFTER the results were announced the next day that Google declared there was a huge uptick in the people of Great Britain looking up, “what is the European Union?”  David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister, as well as other Tory leaders.  Theresa May was placed in the role of Prime Minister, all in a time span of approximately two weeks.Great Britain and European Union

The summer Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, even though there were doom-and-gloom predictions of the city not being ready for them, due to being behind on construction of the proper facilities.  To add insult to injury, they also had to deal with the Zika virus outbreak, as well as reports of the water being unsafe to swim in.  For the most part, however, the games went smoothly from what I understand.  But of course, I didn’t watch them since I don’t keep up with the volleyball.maxresdefault

Samsung began selling the Galaxy Note 7 to much fanfare, only to discover once you got yours, it was destined to spontaneously combust into flames, burning you and everything around it.  Even airlines refused to allow them on their flights. Samsung eventually had to discontinue the phone, even after the initial recall to fix the problem failed. I knew it was hailed as the new hot item, but I think actually setting itself on fire is taking the idea of being “hot” to the extreme.160902161818-02-samsung-galaxy-burnt-phone-note-7-exlarge-tease

The closer we got to Halloween, the more we started hearing about these bizarre clown sightings, where weirdos dressed up in clown costumes would just stand in the edge of the woods near playgrounds, creeping out kids and parents alike.  If it was just an isolated incident, I could understand that it was most likely one sicko with nothing better to do than scare people, but it seemed to be happening all over the country.  Simultaneously. That just added way too many levels to the creepiness for my taste.download

One of the most unusual things about 2016 is the amount of notable people and celebrities who have died this year.  It seemed that it started in January, and never stopped.  Here’s a list of some who have died, although it’s by no means a complete list:

Pat Harrington, Jr
Most famous for playing Dwayne Schneider on “One Day at a Time.”  Died January 6.

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David Bowie
Iconic musician, actor.  Died January 10.

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Rene Angelil
Celine Dion’s husband and manager.  Died January 14.Celine Dion & Rene Angelil Arriving At

Alan Rickman
Actor famous for roles in “Harry Potter,” “Love Actually,” “Die Hard,” and others. Died January 14.alan2

Glenn Frey
Co-Founder of the band “The Eagles.”  Died January 18.635887447644481100-xxx-glennfrey-glader-hp2a5017-v01-78965680

Joe Alaskey
Best know for voicing “Daffy Duck” and “Bugs Bunny.”  Died February 3.020316-joe-alaskey-composite-getty-3

Maurice White
Founder of “Earth, Wind & Fire.”  Died February 3.maurice-white

George Gaynes
Best known for roles as the commandant in the “Police Academy” movies as well as “Punky Brewster.”  Died February 15.960

Angela “Bid Ang” Raiola
From the reality show “Mob Wives.”  Died February 18.960-1

Harper Lee
Author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”  Died February 19.Nelle Harper Lee

Tony Burton
Played Apollo Creed’s trainer in the “Rocky” movies.  Died February 25.8bb103a0-3c0e-4fca-935f-beb470b8f0f4-large16x9_tonyburtonz

The Earl of Strathmore
Michael Fergus Bowes-Lyon, the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, cousin to Her Majesty The Queen.  Died February 27.

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Joey Feek
Part of the country music duo “Joey+Rory.”  Died March 4.gty-joey-feek-cf_151214_16x9_992

Pat Conroy
Author of “The Prince of Tides.”  Died March 4.gettyimages-697790_wide-52f67899aee1aa239c59c58300242f10ca4e9dca-s900-c85

George Martin
Manager of “The Beatles,” often called “The 5th Beetle.”  Died March 8.george-martin

Phife Dawg
From the hip-hop group, A Tribe Called Quest.  Died March 22.tribecafilmfestival2011portraitstudioczmefy2dmkal

Garry Shandling
Actor most famous for “The Larry Sanders Show.”  Died March 24.gs_headshot

Jim Harrison
Author, “Legends of the Fall.”  Died March 26.28harrison-obit-master675

Mother Mary Angelica
Founder of the Catholic TV network, EWTN.  Died March 27.160327-mother-angelica_3328b036067ec2fc40d88a3c54c3ad7b-nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

Patty Duke
Star of “The Patty Duke Show.”  Died March 29.29906170001_4821895521001_4821837867001-vs

Erik Bauersfeld
Voice of General Ackbar from “Star Wars.”  Died April 3.admiral_ackbar_erik_bauersfeld_split

Doris Roberts
Actress who played the mother on “Everybody Loves Raymond.”  Died April 17.50942744CBS_CON025635067

Prince
Musician known for “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry,” “Raspberry Beret,” and “Let’s Go Crazy,” among many others.  Died April 21.prince

Michelle McNamera
Crime writer and wife of comedian Patton Oswalt.  Died April 21.160423102606-michelle-mcnamara-patton-oswalt-exlarge-169

Papa Wemba
Known as “the king of Congolese Rumba.”  Died April 24.Congolese singer Papa Wemba performs dur

Billy Paul
Singer best known for “Me and Mrs. Jones.”  Died April 24.billy-paul

Alan Young
Actor best known for his role in “Mr. Ed.”  Died May 19.21youngsub-obit-master768

Muhammad Ali
Award-winning boxer.  Died June 3.Muhammad Ali 1970

Anton Yelchin
Known as Chekov in the new “Star Trek” films.  Died June 19.anton-yelchin-2015-869x1024

Elie Wiesel
Holocaust survivor and humanitarian.  Died July 2.elie-wiesel-9

Miss Cleo
Famous for playing a Jamaican psychic in infomercials.  Died July 26.miss-cleo-dead1

The Duke of Westminster
Gerald Grosnever, the 6th Duke of Westminster.  Died August 9.Duke of Westminster death

Kenny Baker
Played the droid R2-D2 in “Star Wars.”  Died August 13.1_star10

Gene Wilder
Known for playing the title role in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” as well as characters in “Haunted Honeymoon” and “Young Frankenstein.”  Died August 28._90962477_mediaitem87811809

The Lady Chablis
Transgender performer made famous by the book, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” and played herself in the movie version.  Died September 8.ripladychablis2016-500x565

Alexis Arquette
Transgender actress.  Died on September 11.169768042_1473621270

Shawty Lo
Atlanta rapper.  Died September 21.

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Agnes Nixon
Creator and writer of “All My Children,” “One Live to Live,” and other soap operas. Died September 28.agnes-nixon-dead-ftr

Shimon Perez
Nobel prize winning Prime Minister of Israel.  Died September 28.166

Raine Spencer
Raine, Countess Spencer, step-mother of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.  Died October 21.Countess Spencer

Janet Reno
U.S. Attorney General under President Clinton.  Died November 7.janet-reno

Leonard Cohen
Canadian singer-songwriter.  Died November 7.1411561144285-cached

Robert Vaughn
Actor from “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”  Died November 11.172582164_1478889790

Gwen Ifill
Co-anchor of PBS “Newshour.”  Died November 14.gwenifill

Florence Henderson
Best known for portraying the mother on “The Brady Bunch.”  Died November 24.agape_rg3_florence-henderson-horiz_s4x3_lg

The Hon. Margaret Rhodes
Margaret Rhodes, cousin and best friend to Her Majesty The Queen.  Died November 25.Margaret Rhodes

Fidel Castro
Former President of Cuba.  Died November 25.1420832283181-cached

Ron Glass
Actor best known for his roles on “Barney Miller” and “Firefly.”  Died November 25.

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John Glenn
The first astronaut to orbit the earth.  Died December 8.john-glenn

Joseph Mascolo
Actor best known for his role as super-villain Stefano DiMera on “Days of our Lives.”  Died December 7.

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Alan Thicke
Actor who played the father on “Growing Pains.”  Died December 13.2014-08-08-alanthickehs1

Zsa Zsa Gabor
Hollywood icon and socialite.  Died December 18.zsa-zsa-gabor-1

George Michael
Musician best known as the front-man for the 80’s rock group Wham!, and his later solo career.  He was known for having hits with songs such as “Faith,” “Father Figure,” “Careless Whisper,” “Outside,” and many others.  Died December 25.

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Ricky Harris
Comedian with a recurring role on “Everybody Hates Chris.”  Died December 26.58627e111500002300915fdc

Barbara Tarbuck
Actress best known as Lady Jane Jacks on “General Hospital,” as well as Mother Superior Claudia on “American Horror Story: Asylum.”  Died December 27.

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Carrie Fisher
Best known as Princess Leia from “Star Wars.”  Died December 27.carrie_fisher_2013

Debbie Reynolds
Actress and singer.  Carrie Fisher’s mother.  Died December 28.debbie-reynolds

While not a complete list, and I’m sure I’ve missed some, it’s astounding to me how many notable people have passed away this year.  I’m convinced there is some kind of cosmic serial killer on the loose in Hollywood.  I do hope they’ll catch this cosmic killer before he/she does anymore damage!

Since this was an election year, I would be remiss to not mention the election cycle we just survived.  The Americans just experienced the most bizarre election that I can personally remember.  Mind you, I’m not one to get into American politics, but this year was different for me.  To begin, the Republican party seemed to begin the election cycle with everyone who was a Republican running for President. Eventually, they whittled away their candidates until they were left with one:  Donald Trump.  On the Democrat side, they had Hillary Clinton running against Bernie Sanders for the nomination, and it was Hillary who won the nomination of her party.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to tell you the only reason I was remotely interested in the American elections was Hillary. I’ve been a huge fan of hers ever since her husband, Bill, was President.  Even in those days I wanted her to one day be President herself.  Don’t ask me why… I chalk it up to a “cult of personality” thing more than any stance on any issue.

Given the vile, misogynistic, xenophobic, fascist, nauseating and overall repulsive things Donald Trump said during his campaign about minorities, women, LGBTQ’s and anyone who isn’t a white, straight, Republican male, I couldn’t in my wildest nightmares imagine this guy would have a chance to become President.  During the campaign, videos emerged of his rally’s where people were attacked, thrown out, and bullied.  The man was endorsed by practically every hate group in the country, including the Ku Klux Klan, who said he was the candidate that “most embodied their beliefs.”  And yet, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the electoral college, although she won the popular vote by nearly three million more votes. Now the orange hemorrhoid is about to lead the country for the next four years.

On the other hand, there actually HAS been some good to come out of this year.  I met some amazing people at my new job who are absolutely wonderful.  I had to buy a new car when my Mazda gave up the ghost, but so far, my new gray Nissan is running really well. We nicknamed it “The Gray Ghost.”  We’ve made plans to visit England this coming February, and airline tickets and hotel have been reserved.

So having said all that, here’s to the end of 2016, the annus horribilis vol.2. Let’s all hope and pray 2017 is somehow much better.  Lord knows, it couldn’t get much worse.

The First Annual Christmas Letter

It’s that time of year again—the time where people take stock of the previous year and reflect on the good things that have happened as well as the not-so-good things that have occurred. Many people have taken to participating in this trend of writing Christmas letters to their loved ones, so for the first time ever, I decided to do the same. Here are a few highlights from my year:

As many of you know, my driving expertise is considered by many to be lacking. To add to the weird things I’ve hit with my car, you can now add “swimming pool” to the list. It wasn’t my fault, however, so let me explain… Upon leaving the illustrious Walmart, I found myself behind someone who bought one of those kiddy pools they have propped up on the side of the store. Unfortunately, they didn’t have it tied down very well. As we started driving down the road, the wind picked it up and threw it onto the road, just in enough time for me to run over it as it hit the ground. I suppose I should be grateful their weren’t any “kiddies” in the pool at the time.  Did I also mention I received at text from “John” asking me if I would be interested in driving for Uber?  I guess “John” doesn’t remember riding with me.

This year, I actually received a letter requesting my presence for – of all things – jury duty! To make matters worse, it was from a county I haven’t lived in for probably ten years. While I thought it was a nice gesture on their part to think of me, I wasn’t about to be bothered with all that nonsense. We all know I would have found them guilty just for dragging me to a cold, inconsiderate, uncomfortable courthouse that hasn’t had fresh air in it since 1952. When I called to inform them I couldn’t accept their lovely invitation due to not being a resident of that particular county, the receptionist (or whatever you would call her) on the other end told me I had to send proof of residence in order to be removed. I asked her, “Was the fact that you had to send me the letter to my address two counties away not proof enough for you that I don’t live there anymore?” After a brief silence, Miss Personality rambled on about how they needed a copy of my drivers license and such. Fine. I sent her the requested info to which I received a letter releasing me from said jury duty for the rest of my life.

We decided to move this year after finding a good deal on a house outside of town, so we decided to sell and move.  I don’t know how it is in your area, but I’ve quickly discovered it seems people house-hunting in Wilmington seem to expect people to GIVE them a house.  For free.  After some insulting, low-ball offers, I instructed our Realtor to tell people if they want a free house to talk to the people at Habitat for Humanity and to leave me alone. I hate it for my Realtor, however. She’s the sweetest girl you’d ever meet, and she’s doing her best, given the fact Wilmington house-hunters are cheaper than Ebeneezer Scrooge after he’s fallen on hard times.

Since this is the year where all the arguing and fights start to commence in the political arena, I would be remiss without mentioning that there have been some back-and-forth banter among my friends and myself. Suffice it to say, I have some stupid friends.

That pretty much sums up my noteworthy experiences for 2015. There’s plenty of other things I could have written about, but let’s face it – I would’ve totally bored you to tears if I haven’t already. I hope you have had a great year, and an even better one to come! In the words of Her Majesty The Queen, “A very happy Christmas to you all.”

With these Handcuffs, I thee Wed

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you’ve undoubtedly heard about a woman named Kim Davis (no relation, thank the good Lord) who serves as the County Clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky. Just in case you have been under a rock or in a coma and don’t know who I’m referring to, here’s a quick recap: Mrs. Davis has been making headlines in the news recently due to her unwillingness to issue marriage licenses ever since the Supreme Court made gay marriage legal nationwide. She attributes her refusal to issue said marriage licenses to her ultra-conservative religious beliefs.

Ever since the Supreme Court laid down the gauntlet and declared that homosexual couples had the same right to marriage as their heterosexual counterparts, Mrs. Davis has had her apostolic panties all twisted in a knot and has made it impossible for anyone living in her county to receive marriage licenses, gay or straight, by denying everyone a marriage license. So now we have the old, “if I can’t have it my way, no one will have it in any way” song-and-dance.

Why is she doing this? From what I understand, she adheres to a belief that the “homosexual lifestyle” is a sin in the eyes of God, and that signing the marriage license for a same-sex couple is somehow supporting a relationship she doesn’t agree with. Regardless of the fact that it’s one of the main responsibilities of her position, Mrs. Davis has consistently refused to do the very job she was elected to do ever since same-sex marriage became legal.

I don’t know about you and your particular job, but in my situation, I would find myself in the unemployment line faster than I could say “fundamentalist hypocrite” if I were to refuse to do part of my job duties. Herein lies the problem with this whole sordid, convoluted mess. Mrs. Davis was elected to a secular government position which, when she took office, swore an oath to follow through on all duties which pertained to her position – the signing of marriage licenses being one of them. Due to her beliefs regarding homosexuality, however, she is refusing to do her job duties and using “religious freedom” as an excuse to get out of it. Since she’s an elected official, she can’t exactly be fired, so that makes the issue even more of a headache to deal with.

Those who are supporting her and her crusade against same-sex marriage have wasted no time in crying foul to anyone within earshot and trying to make the case that she is the one being mistreated due to her religious beliefs. The poor girl is simply trying to do what she feels the good Lord leading her to do.

A certain friend of mine said it best – “Well ain’t that just the skank calling the slut a whore!”

Anyone with an IQ greater than Forrest Gump can surely see this for what it is; nothing more than hate and bigotry dressed up in the robe of religiosity. Those who support this woman are constantly bleating about how her religious freedom is under attack. Listening to these people have caused me to suck my teeth and roll my eyes so hard that my fillings are loose and I’m constantly dizzy.

In order to gain a little perspective here, let’s talk a little bit about what an attack on a persons religious freedom looks like. If you’ve been awakened in the middle of the night by intruders in your home who’ve come to beat you (or even worse) because of your beliefs, or you’ve been kidnapped and tortured because of your Christian faith, you’ve been persecuted. If you’re expected to sign a marriage license for a gay couple, and it stands in contrast to your faith, you’re not being persecuted. Why? If for no other reason, the fact that you are free at any time to resign from that position and find another job out in this crazy world where you don’t have to deal with another persons marriage should be evidence enough. No one is forcing Kim Davis to remain in her position (or even change her beliefs about same-sex marriage), but she refuses to leave her post, and at the same time, refuses to do the job which she’s been elected to do.

Today Mrs. Davis was finally put in jail for her actions, and from what I understand, will remain there until she gets her head out of her posterior and agrees to do her job or resigns. People on social media are posting their little hearts out, for and against her and her stance. Politicians and other high profile people are also weighing in with their thoughts on the matter. Even presidential candidate Mike Huckabee took to twitter today defending Mrs. Davis. In my own personal opinion, if a repulsive, hypocritical, pedophile-loving piece of trash like Mike Huckabee is defending you, that should tell you just how wrong you are… but I digress.

It remains to be seen how all this will play out before it’s all over with. I hear that the Rowan County Clerks office will actually start issuing marriage licenses tomorrow in Mrs. Davis’ absence. It should be interesting to see what tomorrow holds, and even more interesting, to see how long Kim Davis lasts in jail before she has a change of heart about her so-called convictions.

The Duggar Dilemma

So, my dear readers, it would seem we have another scandal amongst the religious right to discuss. As I’m sure anyone who’s not been living under a rock for the past week has heard, the Duggar family has found themselves a tad embarrassed by the actions of their eldest child, Josh. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Duggars… they’re this cult-like ultra-conservative family who has managed to make themselves famous by having a reality show called “19 Kids and Counting” which has aired on the TLC network. They’re part of this weird group of people who follow some odd “quiverfull movement,” which prohibits any and all kinds of birth control due to some whacked-out belief that it is somehow on the same level as abortion.

These people, who I might add are as crazy as a houseful of sprayed cockroaches, actually have nineteen children. Can you imagine giving birth to nineteen children? My nether regions hurt just thinking about it, but that’s neither here nor there. It would seem Michelle, the family matriarch, has had no problem popping out one child right after the other. I don’t know what Jim Bob (and that’s really his name, I’m not making this stuff up) does for a living, but I suppose he had to be well-paid to feed nineteen quiverfull mouths on a daily basis.

In any case, it has been revealed this week that Josh, the oldest of these nineteen children, had sexually molested his sisters and some others in his early teenage years. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his parents knew about it the entire time and kept it under wraps. Now the truth has come out, and as expected they’re playing the part of the victim.

Why the part of the victim, you might ask? As they’ve gained notoriety and fame, they have come out against gays and lesbians, and anyone who isn’t just like they are, to accuse them of living sinful lives and condemning them to eternities in hell as if they had that kind of power to begin with. In doing so, they’ve placed themselves on a pedestal as the definitive Christians that everyone should strive to be, and woe unto you if you don’t live up to what they deem acceptable. In their attempts to be the perfect Christians, they have also promoted themselves as martyrs if anyone disagrees with their viewpoints or fights back against their hatred clothed in religiosity.

Now that pedestal seems to be cracking and falling apart, and rightly so. After all, these so-called “Christians” tried to keep the illegal actions of their oldest child away from the authorities and out of the spotlight so no one would know. I know some will say they reported it to the authorities, but if you look closely they only reported it to a “family friend” who, by chance, was a policeman. This same policeman was also found to have child pornography in his possession. This “child pornography connoisseur” only gave him a “stern talking-to” and left it at that. One has to wonder if this “talking to” was nothing more than trading pornographic child molestation stories or something else. I guess the world will never know. It also seems quite odd to me that this revelation was only made to the public after the statute of limitations had passed for this particular crime.

In any case, these people have led others to believe they are so superior in their ethics and beliefs that they have become (in their own mind) the standard by which all others are judged. They have taken it upon themselves to speak out against such things as transgendered persons using the appropriate bathroom when they have to relieve themselves. Michelle, the family matriarch, accused transgendered people of being “child predators.” Well, I suppose if anyone would be an authority on child predators, it would be Michelle Duggar. After all, she raised one.

But I digress.

It now seems that the shoe is on the other foot for these so called “Christians,” and it isn’t fitting well. It’s funny to me how these people are so quick to sit in judgment of others while they and their loved ones are guilty of the very same acts they accuse others of doing. While it may be said by those who support these hypocrites that “he who is without sin cast the first stone,” one has to remember that it was the Duggars who have been willing to cast the first stones at anyone and everyone who were different than they were from day one. Now, those stones are being thrown back at them and they have nowhere to hide.

Poor Duggars. I guess they forgot about that verse in the Bible that says,”For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17).

Have fun with working out the fact that, like everyone else, you are sinners and no better than the rest of us. Actually, I might take that back: you might be worse than anyone else, seeing that you put yourself on a pedestal for all the world to emulate. After all,”From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”(Luke 12:48)

While I’m sure there will be those who defend the Duggars to the ends of the earth, I have to wonder how they would feel if it was their daughter who was molested by this clown. When the infraction hits close to home, most people sing a different tune than the one sung by his supporters. But I suppose it’s easier to pontificate on appropriate actions from a distance than when you’re the victim or trying to cover up the sins of your family.

As the Dust Settles

The votes have been cast, the results are in, and Scotland has decided to stay within the United Kingdom.  As I watched the results come in last night, I don’t mind admitting I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was watching from my computer. As a die-hard proponent of the United Kingdom, I have to admit I was very pleased with the results.  It seems there was a larger percentage of No voters than what the polls had led us to believe were there in the last few days, but we all know polls can always be somewhat askew.

Even though I, personally, was happy with the outcome, I realize there are also those who are not and feel dejected, depressed, and isolated at the moment.  I know from experience how this feels, and believe me, it’s not a good place to be.  I do hope, however, that the two sides of this vote can come together and work toward a solid, unified, working United Kingdom that seeks the betterment of all its citizens, whether they be English, Scottish, Northern Irish or Welsh.

Both sides, I believe, worked very hard for their side, and I believe both sides believed in their message and that they both believed their viewpoint was what was ultimately best for Scotland, and the United Kingdom as a whole.

Now, however, I feel it’s time to put aside the differences on the issue of independence and work together with the reality of what we have:  a Scotland that is part of the United Kingdom.  Over the years, I recognize there have been differences and opposing opinions on how things should be done, and I recognize the hurt that has been caused – not just for one, but also for both sides of the issues.  Now that we are on the other side of the vote, let’s work together, but let us also acknowledge there is much work to do to heal the wounds that might have been caused by the vote.
How can we do this?  The answer to that question, I think, will be different for each individual and each situation.  In order to do this, however, changes may have to be made on both sides of the issue.

In saying this, I hope that it is clear to the powers that be in Westminster what this vote was, and what it was not.  I hope Mr. Cameron and the rest of the Tories realize that, even though the No side was victorious, this was NOT a vote for the Tory status quo.  I don’t feel that Scottish independence would have been voted on in the first place if Tory policies as they are now were acceptable.  Of course, that’s only my personal opinion, and I’ll be happy to admit I’m wrong if I am.  I do hope the devolution policies are quickly forthcoming, and that they help to heal the Union from the internal bruises it now has.  I also hope devolution also happens for England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well.  Fair is fair, regardless of what side of the fence you stand.  I know this won’t be the only thing needed in the future of the Union, but at least it can be a start.

As we move forward as a United Kingdom, I hope and pray time heals our wounds and we are reminded that we are family, even though we might squabble at times over various issues and problems.  As Her Majesty The Queen said today, “Now, as we move forward, we should remember that despite the range of views that have been expressed, we have in common an enduring love of Scotland, which is one of the things that helps to unite us all. Knowing the people of Scotland as I do, I have no doubt that Scots, like others throughout the United Kingdom, are able to express strongly-held opinions before coming together again in a spirit of mutual respect and support, to work constructively for the future of Scotland and indeed all parts of this country.”

God Save The Queen, and God bless ALL the people of the United Kingdom!

 

 

…And Now We Wait

The polls in Scotland have now closed for this historic vote whether to leave or remain with the United Kingdom.  I heard a record 96% of the Scottish electorate turned out to make their voices heard.  Now the painful waiting commences until tomorrow morning when we hear the results.

It may seem odd for many people to see me take such an intense interest in the results of this vote, seeing that I live in the states.  If you know me, however, you know I’ll be a bundle of nerves until I hear the official news, and then even moreso if the vote was yes.  For reasons why, please see my earlier blog post, which will save me from repeating myself.

So now we wait until the morning…

 

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A Kingdom United

Allow me to preface this post by saying that, even though I may live in the United States, Great Britain is my ancestral home and I love it with all my heart. Therefore, the current Scottish referendum hits me very close to home.

September 18th will be an extremely important day for the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and myself. On this day, the people of Scotland will be casting their votes in a referendum to decide whether Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom, or whether it will leave and go it alone. On that day, Scotland will have the power to either save the Union or tear it apart.

Some have called this upcoming referendum “a vote of Scottish independence.” I, however, can’t help but believe it will be much more than just that. When the people of Scotland go to cast their vote this Thursday, they will not be deciding the fate of Scotland alone; they will be deciding the fates of England, Wales as well as that of Northern Ireland. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. This vote is not a temporary fix to anything that may be wrong or will only have consequences for a year or two. People living in the United Kingdom will have to deal with the consequences of this decision for the next century and beyond.

When this vote takes place this Thursday, people who do not live in Scotland, including those Scots who live outside Scotland, will be denied a vote. They will have no voice in trying to save a bond that has lasted for three hundred years. This bond that has held my ancestral homeland together for so long has survived war, crisis, upheaval, and has bound the countries of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland together through some of the most turbulent periods in history.

This is a union which has, despite the difficulties in the past, produced some of the greatest men and women who have bestowed their gifts to humanity in science, engineering, medicine, literature, art, religion and politics. Together, this Union has played a great part in forging the modern world.

 

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So while the rest of the Union has no vote, and while I certainly have no vote, I would like to think that we might have a voice.

What would I, personally, like to say with this voice?  Only one thing: vote on the side of unity; unity with each other, and unity with the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a mixed nation – four peoples mixed together, sharing lives, ties of history, language, and above all, ties of family. The United Kingdoms culture and humor, the way it works together, plays together, the families and friends – the people of these islands share all these things.

Like many of you who live there, I share your frustrations with the current state of politics. I can wholeheartedly understand your irritation with the state of the economy. I understand and I share in your frustrations and irritations as the Union moves ahead in the face of new challenges and problems of the past that have been left unresolved. I completely understand the depth of feeling that you want better for your country. No one can begrudge you the feeling of wishing to be free from leadership which seems uncaring, even on its best days. I can completely understand the wish to be free of economic mismanagement, free to live a life that would build a better future for you and those you love. I understand these feelings because I certainly have them myself. In my humble opinion, however, a vote for Scottish independence isn’t the answer to these problems. I have a gut feeling that a Yes vote for independence would actually bring about many more problems in its wake with no solutions to be found.

Please believe me when I say I have no desire to sweep the problems the Union faces now under a rug and vote no to independence simply to keep the status quo. I would whole-heartedly ask every Scot that will be voting to vote No to independence, and work together with the rest of the union to bring about needed changes; not only to Westminster, but also to governing bodies throughout the entire country. The shared economy is struggling back to health, so lets see the recovery through together, as a unified nation. A family of nations, just like any regular family, has disagreements on what the United Kingdom should be and where it should be going. Lets discuss these visions of the future together, iron out the differences together, and find the answers together.

Of course, I shall respect your final decision, just as the rest of the United Kingdom will. It is, after all, your decision and yours alone to make. On Thursday as you take your ballot paper in hand, however, I would ask and plead with you that you think about the rest of the United Kingdom and its desire to stay with you and check the box to stay with the United Kingdom. Please think beyond the present political problems and think into the future that you are forming for the entire Union as you cast your vote.

The people of these great British islands have faced challenges before, and face great challenges today. There will surely be challenges ahead for this generation and those to come. For the sake of all, lets face these challenges as we have for the last three hundred years: together, indivisible as a United Kingdom working together to overcome these problems, not apart.

 
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The War Song

There’s a horrific song that has been playing in the hearts of all humanity since the dawn of time. Sometimes it’s all one can hear, and it drowns out even the loudest of voices. Other times it’s barely audible; yet if one were to listen close it can be heard, even if it’s only in the heart of the listener. This song I’m referring to is what I’d like to call the War Song, which has been on the lips of nations and peoples from the very beginning of civilization.

It’s a frightening melody, this song that never seems to have an end. The words seem to change from day to day, and yet it still seems to strike the same frightening chords, instilling fear in everyone forced to listen to its message of hate and intolerance. Those of us who are lucky enough to live far enough away from the source of this awful sound can become numb to the terror others are facing in the midst of the noise and horror war brings. When this happens, we rarely think about the tribulations of others, unless it’s in the most abstract of ways.

The latest verse of this war song now seems to be orchestrated from the Middle Eastern stage, with Israel and Palestine as the main players. While I’m in no way an authority on the political and/or cultural tensions of the area, I’ll give you a brief overview of this new development, as I understand it. Three Israeli teenage boys were kidnapped and murdered at the hands of Hamas militants. One of the teenage boys had managed to try to call for help during the kidnapping, but at the time it was considered a practical joke until the boys never came home. After a search by the authorities, the boy’s bodies were discovered in a field on June 30th.

After discovering the bodies, the Israeli Prime Minister vowed to deliver swift action against Hamas, and demolished the homes of the men responsible. Hamas retaliated, Israel fought back, and thus started this back-and-forth fighting we see today.

I’m sure we can all agree that war is terrible for both sides involved. No one comes out of it unscathed, regardless of who claims victory at the end. While it’s surely terrible for those fighting in this war, the horror of those who are caught in the middle through no fault of their own must be unspeakable. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about an innocent little child who, not understanding what’s going on around them, suddenly finds himself or herself without a mother or father due to the fighting. It’s also heart wrenching to imagine the little old lady left homeless with no family due to a bomb killing her loved ones and destroying her home, leaving her nowhere to turn. The stories we could tell of despair, sadness, heartache and suffering from both sides of any conflict would be too numerous to begin tell.

In all of the sadness and tragedy war brings on those living in that kind of torment, there is also a silver lining, even in the midst of such dark times. Somehow, even during what seems to be a living hell on earth, we hear stories of love and compassion that give us a glimmer of hope that maybe we can conquer hate and war. Michele, a friend of mine, shared a story yesterday to come from this part of a war-torn world that filled my heart with hope that all is not lost. She received an email from a friend living in Israel telling her that while he was on his way to work, the sirens went off warning them of an attack. Looking for somewhere to hide safely, he ducked under a house for shelter. The family living in that house saw him and invited him inside, and took him down to their safe room with them where they stayed until the alarms stopped. Afterwards, he left and went to work. It’s this kind of story that fills my heart with hope, even when things seem their darkest. Here we see complete strangers, possibly not knowing which side of the conflict the other is sympathetic to, helping each other and valuing the life of someone they’ve never met, regardless of who they were. This act of helping our neighbors, doing good for the stranger in our midst, even in the middle of life-threatening danger is the type of evidence we need to hear about to help us realize that there is still good in people’s hearts. As Michele said, “This is an example of humanity at its finest!”

Even in the horrible noise of this war song that’s being played over and over, it’s the undercurrents of a melody underneath the noise like the story Michele shared that gives me hope that one day, a new song of peace and love could emerge which would drown out the drones of war. I hope and pray for a new song of peace that would have such an infectious tune that even the hardest of hearts would begin to hum along with it and let go of the old ways of war and begin to gain a new understanding and appreciation for the differences and similarities of their neighbors they have fought for so long.

Will this new song emerge in my lifetime? I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that if each of us would join in singing a song of love and understanding and apply the message of that song to our daily lives, we could help it spread. Who knows… if we keep it going and teach it to others, we could all play a part of learning a song of peace and helping it spread throughout the world and drowning out the war song once and for all.