A New Life Event

My family has Obamacare. Despite what Fox News and the conservative press want you to believe, it’s not free.

We pay $1,071/month for our health-care coverage. If we didn’t qualify for a government subsidy, we would be paying $2,400/month. I’m not going to go into why $2,400/month is an insane amount of money for a struggling-to-remain-middle-class family to pay every month. I think it’s obvious that most families couldn’t afford that premium. We can’t afford the $1,071/month premium either, but we have to, in order to be insured and not fined by the government. Other things, like bills, have to be shuffled around in order to pay our premium, but that’s just life, I guess.

What is worrisome is that President-elect Trump and many Republicans are determined to get rid of Obamacare, i.e., dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Ordinarily, one cannot qualify for new health care after January, unless he or she has a “life event,” which could mean anything from unemployment to a marriage. Now there will have to be a new qualifying life event, “loss of insurance due to Obamacare going away.”

Obamacare was not built overnight. And even when it was built, it was not problem-free. I hope the Republicans have the foresight and sense to not obliterate the program until they have another one built and ready to replace it.

I also hope that my hope is not for naught.

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Carrie Fisher*

Carrie Fisher died today, at age 60. I think that she was probably Dorothy Parker’s reincarnation. Carrie greatly admired Dorothy Parker and, like Dorothy Parker, had an intelligent, sarcastic, hilarious wit. She was also brutally honest about her life. Her candor, however, was a double-edged sword. While Carrie will be remembered as Princess Leia, and as a hugely talented actor and writer, her name will go down in history followed by an asterisk.

The asterisk will remind us of her problems with alcohol and drugs. As the years progress, the asterisk might fade as the stigma associated with addiction diminishes. Carrie has said that she used drugs and alcohol to diminish the agonies of her bipolar disorder. She is far from the first person to self-medicate, and will not be the last. We can only hope that, in the near future, mental illness becomes universally accepted as a medical condition that is on a par with other illnesses that are in our genes and not of our making. She contributed to the unveiling of mental illness, and that is one of the gifts for which she’ll be remembered.

Because she was only four years older than I am, her death was significant for me. I will never be famous, but when I go, will I have left an impression on anyone? And will it be a positive impression?

As trite as it sounds, I’m grateful for my blessings: my husband, my son, my extended family on both sides, our home, the food in our pantry, our jobs, our dog, and many other things. Nonetheless, my immediate family is going through an uncertain time right now. Our faith that God will not abandon us is unshakeable but, still, we are often in states of high anxiety.

I am also very grateful for one more thing: my innate happiness. Even while things crumble around me, I still retain hope for the future. I’m an eternal optimist, which is helpful during difficult times. Only recently have I realized that sharing my happiness might be the most important thing I can do.

No matter how serene others appear on their surfaces, everyone — absolutely everyone — is struggling with something. If I can lift a person’s spirits for even a moment, that’s a gift. And it costs me nothing to compliment someone, lift his or her spirits with a funny story, or listen.

We’ve all been told that the most important thing in this world is love. We’re supposed to love one another. That seemed like an impossible goal until I learned that loving isn’t the same as liking. You don’t have to approve of someone’s behavior or particularly want to spend extended time in a certain person’s company. But you can be nice, compassionate, and kind when your paths cross. Hugs help immeasurably. Human contact can elevate spirits and probably cures many ills, as well.

That’s love. And love multiplies, because someone you’re nice to might feel better about himself or herself, and pass the good feeling on to another person. Plus, you will love yourself for making someone else happier. It’s easier to love yourself when you spread love freely and indiscriminately.

Look Before You Leap To Judgment

niqab-1621517_960_720Anti-Muslim sentiment is rampant in the Western world, ever since the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and thousands of lives were destroyed by radical young Islamic men on September 11, 2001. These hate-filled madmen have continued to propagate murder and destruction under the banner of Allah. But, they’re not representing your average, God-fearing Muslim, or the Islamic religion.

These brainwashed, blood-thirsty, jealous ideologues hate the West and all that we stand for because we have it better than they do. And they’re willing to die in order to destroy us. As a result, many fear all Muslims now. And when people are afraid, they either strike out or run and hide. However, when many people are afraid, they don’t need to hide because there is safety in numbers and a mob mentality takes over. Mobs act in ways that the individuals, who make up the mob, would never act alone. And, make no mistake, there are mobs of Americans who are anti-Muslim, a sentiment born of fear and anger.

The U.S. isn’t alone in its Islamophobia. Cities in France have banned the wearing of burkinis, which are whole-body swimsuits worn by Muslim women. The reason given by officials is that the burkinis go against their law of secularism, i.e., separation of church and state. Other officials say that the ban is permitted if the wearing of burkinis could cause a disturbance.

Everybody needs to just stop and breathe. First and foremost, those of us who aren’t Muslim need to learn what Islam teaches. Those radical Islamists do not represent most Muslims. Muslim extremists are buoyed by the support of those who feel hopeless and helpless. This is not an excuse for their behavior. They must be stopped by more reasonable thinkers. But more reasonable thinkers also need to do some research before castigating an entire religion.

I came across a blog, Dazzling move,  written by a young European woman who was raised as an atheist and voluntarily moved to Egypt, converted to Islam, and chose to wear a niqab, that is, (according to merriam-webster.com/dictionary/niqab), “a veil for covering the hair and face except for the eyes that is worn by some Muslim women.” She also covers her entire body with robes.

I started reading about why she chose to wear the niqab and was enthralled by her story. I continued reading her blog and was astounded when she wrote that Muslims believe that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship the same God. Here is what she said in her post titled, Moses’s Life: “All religions – judaism, christianity and islam says the Same story, the Same point. Some people says that Islam is another religion but in fact Islam teach us that these 3 religions are from the same God and the same message and leadership for people. Judaism is the oldest one and Islam is the youngest one and it completes the religion of the previous ones.” So at the end ALL IS ONE MESSAGE FROM ONE TRUE GOD TO ALL HUMANKIND SINCE THE EARTH WAS MADE.

This specific post went on to tell the story of Moses’s life and the story came straight from the Quran.

This was an eye-opener. I think we should all invest a little time in browsing the Quran before we paint all Muslims with a broad brush.

The terrorists are not practicing Islam. They’re practicing terror, plain and simple. We need to make a distinction. And we need to take the radical Islamists—not all Muslims— down.

 

 

The Second Amendment Needs an Amendment

When the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, on December 15, 1791, assault weapons, assault-like weapons, automatic weapons, and semi-automatic weapons did not exist. Therefore, it is not unconstitutional to ban these weapons.

Muskets, bayonets, and cannons were the weapons of the day. When James Madison wrote the Second Amendment, at the behest of a few of the states, he and our country’s leaders wanted us to be able to protect ourselves. Because today’s weapons were not even conceived of then, Madison wrote a law about the weapons that were being used at the time. Those weapons included cannons. However, while armies of countries possessed cannons, our founders did not expect the average colonist to own one. It probably never even entered their extremely intelligent heads that an individual would own a powerhouse military armament. The cost alone would have been prohibitive.

Over the centuries, personal weapons became more powerful, accurate, and affordable. Now, our leaders must address the weapons available today. Assault weapons and their like must be banned for personal ownership; we cannot tolerate any more mass murders committed by people with these guns.

Our founders approved the ownership of muskets and bayonets. Our leaders must determine what can be owned in our own time, just like Madison did more than 200 years ago, when he wrote our hotly contested Amendment.

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, Bernie, Bernie

Oh, Senator Sanders. Sit on your hands. Right now. Compared to Hillary Clinton in Thursday’s Democratic Presidential Debate, you looked unhinged. You aren’t unhinged, though. You have progressive, humane ideas and great vision. You have political experience. You have life experience. You’re intelligent. But you wave your hands around too much. Presidents don’t do that. Someone told me that that is your “shtick.” Presidents don’t have shticks. Comedians do.

Presidents also have patience. When Secretary Clinton said something you disagreed with, you interjected and wagged your finger. You looked like you were about to explode. Presidents don’t regularly blow gaskets, at least not on national television.

Calm down, Senator Sanders. Control your hands. Wait your turn. Breathe. You have what it takes. You just need to present it in a dignified fashion.

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.