Archive | October 2012

Hand in Hand, We Take a Stand

If a fourteen-year old Pakistani girl in a Taliban-infested country can stand up for her rights and nearly die for them, surely we American women can insist upon ours and vote the candidates who will safeguard our voice, our healthcare, and our liberties as females.

We owe it to each other as women and girls, to take our stand hand-in-hand across this globe.

Amen, sistah.

(Photo from MSNBC)

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Some People Don’t Like Dreamers

“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”

–Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

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“A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.”

–Response to Debbie Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies

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“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”

–Decca Recording Company, 1962, after an audition by the Beatles

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“..dreams are astoundingly important. They keep nagging you because you’re supposed to fulfill them. When you sense you’re special, you’re not neurotic or grandiose. Something inside you is calling to you and you have to listen. When you love to do something, that means you have a gift for it…And when you’re gifted at something, you have to do it.”

–Barbara Sher, Live the Life You Love

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“I don’t know what use any one could find for a machine that would make copies of documents. It certainly couldn’t be a feasible business by itself.”

 –the head of IBM, refusing to back the idea, forcing the inventor to found Xerox.

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“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”

–Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

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This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”

–Western Union internal memo, 1876.

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“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.”

–A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service.

(Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

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And, why you should not be afraid to aim high, and be willing to accept even higher:

Bill Gates:  “640K ought to be enough for anybody.”

Dream on, people!  Dream on!

Then We Women Must

There are haters in America peering out from under the sheets of religion, conservatism and family, and creating violence among us.  They crucify spirituality, freedoms, civil liberties, and human dignity, and our politicians are not containing them, but bowing down before their altars of discrimination and rage.

They are the underbelly of America that appalls other nations and they want more than anything to govern the rest of us by their hate, revenge, racism, homophobia, suppression of women, and mob action.

Who are they to be so arrogant as to bully the rest of us!?!

These inciters do not represent us, our sons and daughters, our families.  Our patriotism goes back to “United States,” “one nation,” and  “justice for all.”  We remember the Civil War and learned what history taught us:  we are a diverse people living together, not separate.  We differ with intelligence, not misspelled signs or insulting placards; we listen with respect, not place the crosshairs of rifle sights on the names of those who disagree with us.   We vote our preference, we do not vow to “reload” and attack.

If the powers that be won’t take a public stand against the sarcastic nastiness, the obvious lies, the unabashed prejudices more reminiscent of white cloaks and hoods or SS insignia…

If their political party won’t…

If the media won’t label them fanatics and dangerous…

…then we women must.

We women must speak out against the polarization and for unity; against hatred and for allowing of differences; against racism, homophobia and suppression of women and for diversity, economic equality and freedom over our bodies.

We women must do so and can simply and without fanfare, as our part of the conversation.  We must express our desire for unity, our respect for the dignity of all humans and our willingness to allow in our art, our attitudes and our teachings.

For if we women do not set the course of human events upon the path of intelligence, grace and compassion, it will not get done.

— © St. John 2010

The Legacy of Our Congress (Ouch, That Hurts!)

To garner an objective perspective of our Congress’s current policies and practices, I need a time warp machine that propels me into the future, one hundred years from now.

How would our Congress hold up?

It is the “non-war” wars I would notice first, and how we resolutely refused to learn from them:  Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, and now, Afghanistan and Iraq.  The trust our military men and women put into Congress was blatantly betrayed for its own political gains.  Our freedom of speech and right to protest without repercussions were put at risk in the process.

Then I spotted our children failing to read or use correct grammar.  Education is one of the areas where funds were routinely cut, and classroom sizes increased.  The people we had elected were officially against prioritizing and funding what is absolutely necessary for enhancing and growing the intellectual spirits of our young people.  (Personally, I think Congress doesn’t want to teach or children to think critically, because it would make their political and PAC ads more obviously slanted.)   And, rather than being nurtured, their creative and athletic spirits were completely rejected in favor of funding non-wars.

I heard the church bells ring and saw how our churches went wild.  The extreme “right” movement not only wanted religion dictated into our laws, it wanted only their religion.  The freedom to express individual religious views, separate from state, was nearly governmentalized right out of existence.

Rather than being cultivated and respected, the artistic spirit was belittled and abandoned by society.  Art and music were taken out of our classrooms, and “culture” became associated with silliness.

Congress allowed the continuing destruction of our environment, the slaughter of the American Dream of owning a home, and the loss of our nation’s reputation and subsequent negotiating power.

What would I conclude?

I would conclude that our country was still young, feeling its wings, and that these transgressions of Congress were all part of its growing up.

That makes Congress a teenager now.

The worst kind of teenager.

The worst kind of teenager uses drugs and sex for validation (officials preying on young and vulnerable pages, soliciting sex partners from madams or public bathrooms, taking away women’s health rights towards their bodies, but fully supporting their bodies wrapped around a pole and dancing for entertainment.   These teenagers impulsively follow the pack (whatever their party says, goes) to make an impression on their peers (their contributors, the president and vice president), not the courageous thinkers (the constituents who voted them in).  They’re mouthy to their elders (other countries) because they know it all and the elders are only stupid anyway.

These self-absorbed teenagers are predictable in their behavior.  They give people (France, Germany, Turkey, Russia) the cold shoulder when they don’t give into their demands (go into a preemptive war with us or else), to teach them a lesson.  “I’ll show them they can’t mess with me!” they smugly think.  They look to follow whatever is trendy (whatever buzz words the current lobbyists are using) and watch their peers closely (Homeland Security) to demean and reprimand them if they are “different” (denying civil union rights to homosexuals, continued lower pay for women, continued racist behavior in Jena and elsewhere).  They don’t care about others’ misfortune (disaster victims; third world starvation, aids, genocide) because no one else is in that 4’x4’ space they directly inhabit.  They are too egocentric to see any needs other than their own (veterans’ care kept horrifying substandard).

Our Congress’s conscience has completely disappeared.  Congress has steadfastly refused to mirror a sense of humanity, a sense of being a good family and a good neighbor.

At what point during Congress’s collective set of choices, did it stop being kind and foster good will?  When did Congress decide spirituality, doing the right thing for the right reasons, no longer mattered?

When did we Americans start electing self-serving teenagers to represent us in Congress and in the presidential administration?  For truly, I have come to believe that whoever is President is becoming more and more insignificant… those rogues behind an elected desk in Congress are the ones running our country and ruining our middles class, our stability, and our futures.

It is time we rein in those teenagers, before it is too late.  It is time we as a nation grew up and insisted that only integrity-based people represent us to the rest of the world.

Let us begin to care openly about others, allowing diversity as enriching, not threatening.   Let us continue to support the individuality, achievements, spirits, and bodies of our females.   Let us put money where our values should be, health care, job security, education, and civil freedoms.

Instead of ignoring us, let us remind Congress who really has the power:  its constituents.

Let us re-elect only that small handful of elected officials who protected our rights, our military and our veterans. Let us newly elect only those people who will add maturity, grace and common sense to our governments.

Instead of writing history, let us right history.

— ( c ) St. John 2007, 2012

A Time for Heroes

We’ve all had heroes as kids.  We’ve all felt that complete euphoria when our heroes actually talked to us.  Oh, my lord, what an event that was!  In that split second, you were on their level; you felt like a god had reached down from the heavens and given you wings.  It lasted for days.  I miss those childhood days when I knew somebody I wanted to be exactly like.  I miss that sense of awe for someone, of being in the presence of someone great.  I miss that hint of power and the unspoken promise that now everything was going to be okay.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt those feelings for somebody.  I wondered if maybe I had just forgotten what being a hero was all about.   I did think of Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama, but I need a more practical definition of hero – I could never be saintly.  But two or three steps down would be good.

I looked up hero in an online dictionary.  It described a hero as a figure “of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability;” “a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities;”  one that (shouldn’t that be “who”?) shows great courage.  There were three other definitions, including “an object of extreme admiration and devotion:  idol.”

Then I looked up heroine.  We women didn’t fare as well.  First of all, we were defined by the male definition:  a “woman having the qualities of a hero.”  There was no separate mention of admiration, nobility or courage.  There was also no mention of devotion, or idol status.  Probably to save space on the page, but I wonder about the little girl who looks up the word “heroine” and sees that you have to go to the male version first.  Course, we weren’t defined as a baloney sandwich, so I guess we women and little girls can feel good about that.

I didn’t look up the definitions to identify gender discrimination, though.  I had hoped to be inspired with a name when I read them, but I felt zippo.  The definitions of hero and heroine appear critically outdated.  We need a definition that is gender free and can be applied to anyone, male or female, child or adult.  I came up with some examples of what I could aspire to be like.

1) One who displays great respect and reverence for life; is admired for his/her ability to make decisions based on this value.  Ex:  strong, generous, ego less leaders or business owners; legislators who stand up against discrimination and self-gain, and vote for diversity, individual freedoms, privacy, a healthy earth, and global relationships that are based on mutual cooperation and respect.

2) One who exhibits the strength and courage of individuality and the allowing of those who are different.  Ex.:  men who ignore the macho myth; men who are good fathers; women who do not criticize themselves or other women;  women who are good mothers; children who are happy to be children.

3)  One who continually demonstrates consistency of character, dependability, and trustworthiness, who accepts worth not as defined by others, but by those acts that consistently reflect such traits.  Ex.:  kind and thoughtful family members;  generous and grateful community members.

4) The word for hero should be genderless.

Being a hero is rather simple, when you stop to think about it.  It simply requires the intended action of doing the right thing for the right reason, with respect and grace.

The irony is, we accept the high position of authority in business or government — areas ripe for heroism — as a place that cannot do the right thing for the right reason, as it wouldn’t be profitable.  We allow a substandard kinda guy or gal – the one with the biggest ego or the largest personal agenda — to determine our national policies.  As a society, we seem to accept this unquestioningly, as if we were brainwashed into thinking no other way is possible, and so we shouldn’t expect anything different.

We need to return to the expectations of our childhoods…when heroes accomplished great deeds and great joy was unleashed upon the people.  We need to expect — and require — that the people who represent us, do so in the right way, for the right reasons, for the highest and common good of all.

It’s time for our children to have heroes like we did.

I kinda want one again, too.

— ( c ) St. John 2006