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If You Could Do It All Over Again …

Back when I was a kid, whenever I came within hearing distance of two or more women talking together, I often heard one of them say something like, “If I knew then what I know now … ,” or “I’d love to be young again, but only if I could have the knowledge I have today.” Occasionally, I’d hear someone ask the other, “If you could do it all over again, would you do it the same way?”

Now, I am one of those women. Actually, I’m probably older than those women were then, by 10 or 20 years. That means that those women were questioning their choices, or were just plain unhappy with them, in their thirties or forties.

In the 1960s and 1970s, in my Irish-Catholic, middle-class neighborhood, women didn’t have as many choices as they do now. Money was tight, education beyond high school was rare, and kids were plentiful. The men made the money and the women stretched it for all it was worth. Women couldn’t get credit on their own. Their economic situation depended entirely on their husbands’ ability to earn.

Not long after, women went to college, got jobs, moved out of their families’ homes, and had mostly-worry-free sex, due to the introduction of birth-control pills. Women supported themselves, traveled, worked, and lived in their own homes with or without a man to whom they were or were not married. Life changed drastically and very quickly. Education and birth-control made this possible.

But, despite these changes, adults still had to make choices and decisions. Some of us got married, some of us had children. Some of us raised our children without working outside the home; some did both, with varying success. Others dedicated our lives to our careers, or that’s the way it turned out, anyway. That was because, even though women had far more options than our mothers did, we didn’t have them all. Sometimes our choices were limited, so we chose between what we were offered. Some people never met a man they wanted to marry. Some women were unable to have children. Some women got the jobs they wanted; others took the jobs they could get.

Even with all of the new opportunities that were offered to us, they weren’t all offered to every one of us. We, like previous generations, did the best with what we we chose from what we were offered.

My friends don’t seem to ask each other the questions that our mothers asked. Maybe that’s because if we don’t like our marriage, we leave it. Or, if we’re unhappy with our job, we look for another. We don’t feel pinned down to choices we made when we were young, or younger.

But, the prevalence of divorce, relocating, changing jobs and/or career paths, depression, homicide and suicide, indicates a great unease with our original decisions. I believe we’re all still asking ourselves if we would have done things differently if we knew how things were going to turn out.

What would you have done differently? Would you have married the same person, had the kids, chosen the career you first decided on? Or, knowing what you know now, and how things played out, would you have gone a totally different route?


The Trump Chamber

Today, President Trump’s press secretary banned a number of prominent news outlets from his press briefing.

From The New York Times (online): Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing. Aides to Mr. Spicer only allowed in reporters from a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed.

The behavior of the White House is eerily reminiscent of the Star Chamber, an English court that started out with good intentions but which grew, over the centuries, into a court with endless authority.

From Wikipedia: In modern usage, legal or administrative bodies with strict, arbitrary rulings and secretive proceedings are sometimes called, metaphorically or poetically, star chambers. This is a pejorative term and intended to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the proceedings. ‘Star Chamber’ can also be used in its original meaning, for instance when a politician uses parliamentary privilege to attack a powerful organisation or person. …

The power of the Court of Star Chamber grew considerably under the House of Stuart, and by the time of King Charles I, it had become synonymous with misuse and abuse of power by the King and his circle. …

King Charles made extensive use of the Court of Star Chamber to prosecute dissenters, including the Puritans who fled to New England. This was also one of the causes of the English Civil War.

On 17 October 1632, the Court of Star Chamber banned all “news books” because of complaints from Spanish and Austrian diplomats that coverage of the Thirty Years’ War in England was unfair. …

The Star Chamber became notorious for judgments favourable to the king. Archbishop Laud had William Prynne branded on both cheeks through its agency in 1637 for seditious libel.

President Trump isn’t a court of law. In fact, he sometimes acts as if there aren’t courts of law in the United States. American citizens must fight to protect our free press and our civil liberties. To do this, we must keep up with current events and learn about previous abuses of power, so as to prevent them from being repeated.

As George Santayana, wrote in The Life of Reason (1905), “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Other people said the same thing, using slightly different words, and they were all right.


Holy ….Water!

The other day while ice skating (for the first time in 30 years), I fell on my right side and sprained my hand and wrist. The top of my right hand was grayish-blue and swollen. My wrist was slightly swollen and painful.

Today, after Mass, I went to the holy water dish in our church and liberally doused the top of my hand with holy water. In front of my eyes, the color returned to normal and the swelling went away. I could see the bones in my hand again.

I was marveling at the miraculous recovery of my hand in the car, on the way home. I showed my husband and he said that my hand looked normal again but my wrist was still swollen. I agreed and said that it still ached, too. Then I remembered that I hadn’t applied the holy water to my wrist at all. I’m going back to church to finish the job.

Have faith and look for little miracles in your life. They’re God’s way of showing you that He’s with you, even if He didn’t grant your wish to win the lottery. After all, God’s not a genie.

A Crazy Story

I have a male friend who is married to a man and they adopted two sons together. Last week, they all went on vacation to Los Angeles. Because they had taken their sons to the Ronald Reagan library during their last visit, they decided to take the boys to the Richard Nixon library this time.

My friend said that while he and his husband were walking through a garden at the library, he commented to his husband, “There sure are a lot of white, conservative men here.”

Immediately, a man behind him responded loudly, “There’s nothing wrong with white, conservative men.”

My friend turned around and flamboyantly agreed with the white, conservative man who had made the comment, “You’re right, there’s not!”

He then turned back to his husband and said in a voice that was meant to be overheard, “We’re all here for the same reason. We like Dick.” And then he laughed hysterically.




Bernie and the Ninety-Nine Percenters

I like Bernie Sanders. I do not dismiss his democratic socialism out of hand. The more I learn what it means, the more I learn how it is not the same as socialism. Capitalism, our core economic principle, would remain under a Bernie Sanders presidency. So would the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government. What would change is that loopholes will be closed for corporations who have avoided paying taxes, and the very wealthy would be taxed more to pay for social programs like universal health care and free state-college tuition. These are goals, however, and probably not even ones that can be accomplished in the near future, if ever. (There’s still the House and Senate to contend with, as well as state governments.)

As I tried to familiarize myself with the concept of democratic socialism, I did some reading and learned that it already exists in our society to a large degree, and not only in government-assistance programs, like Medicare and Medicaid; you’ll see democratic socialism at work in our national highway system, our free public school system, our libraries, our post offices, our municipal trash pick-ups, municipal snow removal, state road resurfacing, bridge building, etc. These things are all possible because democratically elected officials voted for these projects and institutions, for the good of all.

So, I’m rethinking my political philosophy, which is mostly center, or a little left of center, but occasionally veers to the right. I will always support a free, capitalist society. I also support Senator Sanders’ contention that medical care and higher education should be available to all. These two things are not mutually exclusive if some major adjustments are made. After all, you can make a cake with many different recipes, but you’ll still wind up with a cake.