Where’s Our Moral Compass These Days?

moral_compass

Daily now, we’re faced with the divisiveness pervading our country. Politics has really played a number with us over the past couple of years, but this isn’t about politics. At almost 60 years old, I have never in my life seen anything like it. I have seen elections play out through the years while both sides put out political ads insulting the other. I remember a time when people were criticized for doing that and that was nothing compared to how it is now. We are being subjected to behavior that is so offensive and unacceptable that my mouth literally falls open at some of what I see and hear. When did we turn into human beings that allow this type of behavior and what are we going to do about it?

I’m going to leave the actual political debates aside here. I am, however, holding our elected officials, individually, accountable for a large portion of our current problems. They are setting the standards and they are the ones lowering them by accepting things that should not be acceptable. To me, this problem is so much bigger than politics. I think, beyond the political culture, the continuing tolerance for ill behavior by SO MANY people in the recent months is shocking. I have a hard time believing what we now consider acceptable. We have to stop blaming the political parties as a whole and look at the individuals involved and hold them accountable for their behavior. This is not a political problem; it’s a humanity problem.

When did it become tolerable to blatantly admit to sexually assaulting women and think that it’s okay?  In fact, even if the abuse is admitted, the victims are still subject to skepticism, doubt, and disbelief. Often, there aren’t even repercussions for these actions. Why do we find it so hard to believe the victim and find it so easy to find excuses for the accused? Why are there different levels of blame based on who it is, whether it’s your political party or based on the color of the person or the nationality of the person involved? When did it become okay for the KKK and other hate groups to be open about their hatred? In what world is it okay for them to spew hate and violence and not even worry about repercussions? I feel like somebody opened that door that we all knew to keep locked and we’re facing what’s there. We know it’s been there, but have been able to keep it at bay until now. We’ve tried hard to remedy these biases and have worked to do better as human beings. I feel like we’ve just been set back by decades. Why aren’t our elected officials, in all capacities, dealing with these issues as a country and not blindly following along party lines? These issues are defining us as a country, as a people. It’s their responsibility to treat these issues accordingly. These topics, like so many others that are now occurring on a daily basis, need to be addressed swiftly and surely. There really is no other acceptable choice. What kind of world do we want to live in? What kind of world do we want our children and grandchildren to be part of? I think it’s time to make that choice and do something about it before we continue to lower our standards as human beings.

The lies that we’re subjected to daily by some of our elected officials and some of the media are also not acceptable. The fact that these falsehoods roll so easily off of their tongues is a bigger problem to me than the lie itself. Since when is it tolerable to simply make things up and put them out there as truth? Even when caught, they feel no responsibility to correct it. These same government officials that we have elected to preserve our rights, to look out for our interests, are just as culpable as anybody else. The race to put through their own agenda has put our health and welfare at risk. Many of them have admitted to not knowing the details of the plans put before them yet are completely comfortable voting on them. Now millions of us are living in fear daily as to what’s going to happen to us. The fact that we entrusted these people to do their due diligence means nothing. They continue to vote in a manner that critically affects those most vulnerable while enabling those most fortunate to continue to line their pockets.

Most of what I read and hear these days is so hypocritical that it angers me to listen. It seems as if everybody has one set of beliefs and absolutely refuses to listen to anything that differs from it. There appears to no longer be a way of working together, of working in the best interest of the people or of simply acknowledging that there’s a right and wrong. People are put on television to excuse others’ words, actions, and behaviors. It’s as if they can make it okay if they can make enough people believe it is. We’ll make up excuses to support our view. We’ll bend the truth as far as we can to look at things the way we want to see them. When did this become okay?

I know that there is a group of people out there that are perfectly fine with the way things are going. They clearly embrace the violence and the hate and are taking advantage of the direction we’re headed. There’s another group of people that are simply unaware of the changes taking place and may not pay much attention to politics or our changing standards. Their world may not have been affected much. That’s pretty tempting given the amount of coverage and mind-boggling accusations being tossed around. It’s easy to tell ourselves that it will work itself out. There’s another group of people, though, that are working hard to fight this culture, to hold themselves and others to higher standards, to uphold the constitution and morals of our country. These are the people that are trying to keep our country great, to maintain our standing as the best country in the world and to look out for each other. That’s the group that I want to be part of.

I want to go back to the world I grew up in, one where there’s a right and a wrong. Right means behaving in a manner that is moral, that is honest and that is appropriate. Wrong is selfish, hypocritical, and negative. I really don’t understand how these two things can be confused. Lies, violence, and inappropriate behavior or words should not be tolerated or excused by anybody. Our humanity has taken a steep dive and I think we’ve continued to move the bar in a negative way and accepted way more than we should have as normal. I don’t know how much longer we can allow this to continue and still remain the country of people that we want to be. I think it’s time for each one of us to say we’ve had enough. We deserve the honor, the integrity, and the respect that our ancestors worked so hard to create for our country. We cannot and should not give that up. We need to raise the bar again; raise our expectations for those that represent us. Hold people accountable for behavior that is not representative of our country. Women, children, disabled people, people of color, people of different religions…nobody… in this world should have to be afraid daily or treated in a substandard manner. Hatred and violence should not be a daily occurrence where we just shrug our shoulders.  I’m tired of being afraid of what our representatives are doing and being embarrassed and angry. We deserve a country that we’re proud of and a government that supports us and puts our best interests first. I think it starts with each one of us and what we can do to change it. Make a phone call or write a letter. Get involved. Vote for whoever represents your values and vote out those that don’t! Let your voice be heard and let your actions be representative of how you want our world to be. Stand up for what’s right and don’t accept less.

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Martin Luther King, Jr.

We think we know the man we’re honoring today because of his accomplishments, but there is so much more to him than those already well-known facts.  Born on January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. became an activist and a leader in the Civil Rights Movement.  This man became most well known for his advancement of civil rights and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  What I didn’t know, however, was a lot more about the man himself, his story, his struggles and the personal accomplishments that he achieved in his too short 39 years.  After learning more about him, I really have more admiration for the man than I had before.  Overcoming many obstacles and achieving many successes at such an early age, he remained true to himself, his values, and his beliefs.  That’s something to admire, both in a leader and in an individual. Continue reading “Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Holiday Treats for All!

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holiday treats

Who doesn’t enjoy a holiday treat like cookies, candy, fudge or cake?  Well, those of us with celiac disease typically can’t indulge since it’s rare to find a gluten-free item included.  It’s really hard to manage this, as well as other food allergies, during the holidays when all of these goodies show up at work, friends’ homes, and at family dinners.

I think we’re all at least somewhat familiar with celiac disease these days.  It’s become much more common than it used to be and is all over the news and social media.  We likely know someone with either a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease itself.  According to the Celiac Disease Foundation:

“Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.  It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.  Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.”

If you or someone you love is affected with celiac disease, this is one of several amazing resources.  They offer information, product suggestions, recipes, etc.

Since it’s become more publicized, it’s become both easier and more difficult to manage.  You would think that with the additional publicity, resources, and additional gluten-free food offerings, both in the store and at restaurants, it would be easier to eat gluten-free.  It is, in a way.  However, there are so many foods being offered as gluten-free that truly aren’t, it’s frightening to me as a consumer.  At this time, manufacturers are not required to test their product in order to label it as gluten-free; it’s up to the individual manufacturer to ensure that they meet their labeling requirement.   In restaurants, you have to be cautious as well.  Just because they use a gluten-free crust or gluten-free pasta doesn’t ensure that your pizza or your meal is safe.  The preparation, the tools, the surfaces, and the pasta water must all be separate and gluten-free as well.   As much as I appreciate the extra effort by companies and restaurants to accommodate our needs (even though we pay much more for the privilege) it’s not fair to me, as a consumer, to be told something is gluten-free when it’s really not.  It IS up to me, however, to verify this information to my own satisfaction and to then decide whether I will purchase from them or not and choose whether to eat there or not.  Personally, I’m sticking with those brands that are certified or Celiac Support Association-approved (another great resource for lists, resources, and info.) and those restaurants that are diligent in their preparation.

It’s hard enough to manage a gluten-free diet on a regular basis and make these decisions.  To do so around the holidays is the worst!  We are faced with these temptations daily and, as much as we want to give in, we can’t!  It’s not just a matter of gaining a pound or two; it’s a matter of getting sick and setting off an internal process that damages our body and hurts us.  In consideration of your gluten-free friends and family that will likely be with you around the holidays, please honor their restrictions without making them feel guilty or embarrassed by it.  Please feel free to ask questions and we would be happy to provide information on brands or ingredients, etc.  We’re happy to talk about it and share information and awareness.  If you would like to provide something for your guests to enjoy (especially kids), there are lots of gluten-free grab-and-go boxed cookies and cakes at the grocery stores.  Please remember to store and serve these separately!  Fresh fruit or vegetables (with a g-f dip?) are great. There are also so many more things that we can cook and bake such as Chex mixes, candied nuts, fudge, and baked goods with gluten-free flour and ingredients.  I use Progresso cream of mushroom soup in my cooking without issue.  We have lots of resources and we must rely on the information provided to us.  Trust me; we are no happier than you are about this.  We need to make sure that, when it says gluten-free, that it actually is.  Please help us stay safe throughout this holiday season.

Protesting – One of Many Tools

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protest

Interestingly enough, there are protests being held both in the United States and in South Korea regarding the behavior of the president (or president-elect).

In South Korea, there are more than 500,000 people peacefully protesting in Seoul to demand the president’s resignation.  Their president has apologized twice for the scandal involving a long-time friend that was getting advance policy information with which to advise the president on a number of state affairs.  The friend had no experience or official position and has been accused of an abuse of power and fraud.  It is believed by some that the president is simply a mouthpiece of several others making decisions behind the scenes.  According to a demonstrator: “It’s an explosion of their feelings,” demonstrator Jinwon Kim says of the crowds. “People are very angry.”

Back here in the United States, we are also experiencing protests in various cities throughout the country about our recent presidential election.  Thousands of people are marching in the streets carrying the message of “Not My President”.  These protests appear to be unprecedented in American history.  The protesters are acting on their displeasure with the president-elect’s behavior, words, and decisions.   This election has been singular in the negative, angry, threatening and divisive remarks being made throughout the campaign.  I think most of our country has agreed on that.  The fact that our new president-elect has made so many Americans feel unwelcome, angry, frightened, and unsafe is turning into a big problem for him and the people are letting him know how they feel.  This is key-we have to acknowledge people’s feelings, whether we agree with them or not and whether we believe they are justified or not.  It doesn’t matter how each of us feels; we need to respect everybody’s right to express their opinion.  THIS is the American way.

We hoped that whoever won the election would move forward in a much more positive manner, one that we could all get behind and believe in.  The fact that our votes were almost 50-50 obviously leaves half of us unhappy with the current president-elect.  What’s more American than protesting your dissatisfaction?  We are given the right to do this…peacefully.  There are positives for protesting.  We are letting Mr. Trump know that we are watching him, watching his choices, his actions, and his words (both tweeted and spoken).  We are going to hold him and his staff accountable for the promises he made, for pulling the country together and moving forward on a positive path.  It appears that, to date, he is not following the standard protocol in his actions…not about staffing choices, business matters, publicity and transparency, nor his communications.   I believe this is why people are now protesting.   I think most of us would like to believe that he will, very soon, become the person that we all want to have as president.  He has this one moment in history to make the right choices.  We’re all hoping that he does the right things.

This accountability is important and something that should be an ongoing process, not just when we’re unhappy about something.  We should all be watching the people that make decisions that directly affect us.  If you disagree with something, voice your opinion, become active in the cause, write a letter, make a phone call, and effect change.   Contact your member of Congress!  There is always work to be done at the local government level, which is what affects our daily lives in so many ways.  Getting involved is so important because it not only allows you some control in how your life is affected, but keeps you informed about the issues as well.  If we are all more involved in this process, we won’t need to rely on hearsay, Facebook, internet and television news stories that may or not be factual.  We will be educated participants in the process and be able to make informed choices on issues.

In most recent history, the Black Lives Matter movement was more prominent.  Do we all know what that was about?  Certainly…because it was out there, it was talked about, it was acted on, even if not always apparent.  This is how we, as Americans and South Koreans alike, can express our opinion, hold people accountable, and make change when necessary.  It indicates exactly how we feel about something and it needs to be acknowledged.  This is obviously a world-wide form of communication and one that is effective.   Protests, in whatever form they take, should always be acknowledged and taken seriously.