Learning to become the mother I wish I’d had

Amazing and insightful post written by a diagnosed NPD (non-malignant) who has been working hard to stop the generational transfer of NPD and raise an emotionally healthy and empathic son, while she works on herself. They are learning together, and she may have prevented her child from developing a personality disorder by using the techniques discussed in this post.

I sure wish my mother had become self aware enough to do this with me.

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I have a six year old son, Andrew. I first started noticing a shift in his behavior in Kindergarten. He started acting out at school, but it didn’t become a huge problem until he started first grade this year.

For the first few months of the school year, I was getting daily calls from the teacher telling me that Andrew was a problem. He lashed out at other kids. He was hyper-sensitive to any perceived slight – if someone stepped on his toe, for example, it wasn’t an accident in his eyes. They clearly meant to hurt him. And he had to react and get back at them. He had to defend himself.

It was at the point I was worried he would get kicked out of school.

At home, he would throw temper tantrums and a couple times, he physically lashed out at me.

His friendships were dwindling. His…

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The best trio of bumper stickers ever.

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I try to avoid political stuff, but this was just too funny and true.   There’s nothing that special about the individual stickers, but the order is what makes it so great.  Almost everyone I know that isn’t a Trump supporter can relate to the order of reactions during the election last year.

This is funny too (and weird).   After I found this photo,  my son informed me it was taken by a friend of his and that it went viral.     I actually met his friend during my vacation and was very surprised it was hers.   We’re following each other on Twitter now.    It’s a small world.

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8 ways to survive a 637 mile car trip in just one day — and make it amazing.

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I love highway driving and I love long road trips most of all, even if I’m driving alone.   Most experts recommend that for anything over 400 or 500 miles, you should think about staying somewhere overnight and splitting your trip into two days.  It’s good advice, but because I want to spend more time wherever I’m going and less time actually traveling (and saving money by not spending it for an extra night at a motel along the way), I never follow that advice, as sound as it may be.   For anything under 700 miles, I make the whole drive in a day.

I’ve made at least five car trips from North Carolina to the greater New York and New Jersey area, and I clocked those trips at 637 miles one way.  Amazingly,  the Tampa Bay area where my son lives is exactly the same distance from my home in North Carolina as those trips to the greater New York area were — and take about the same amount of hours to traverse.  I also once drove from New York to Chicago in just one day — that was a slightly longer trip at close to 800 miles — but that was a little too much.   I’d definitely split that into two days if I ever had to to it again.

There are apps and online programs that tell  you how long a car trip should take, but you should always add about two hours to it.  Those calculations they give you don’t take into account the various stops you will need to make along the way — and if you’re driving alone (or even if you aren’t), you WILL have to stop.   You can get exhausted and stiff as a board from sitting in a car all day, not to mention you will definitely need to relieve yourself from time to time and fill your gas tank.

Since I’m experienced at one day long road trips and have done so many of them,  I’m going to offer some tips to make your trip not only tolerable, but utterly enjoyable.  I for one, consider the road trip part of the vacation itself — even the road trip back.    As far as I’m concerned, the vacation isn’t over until I’ve stepped inside my house.   The actual road trip is definitely part of the pleasure of a vacation.  I can’t even imagine taking a plane for trips like these because the driving part has become such an integral part of it for me.    There’s a delicious feeling of freedom and adventure driving along the highway, especially when the scenery is lovely and you make music a part of it.

Here are eight things I do to make my long road trips not only tolerable, but an absolute blast.

1. Before your road trip, make sure your car is road worthy and in good shape for a long trip.  Check your fluids, get your oil changed, and get any repairs made beforehand.  If your tires look worn, it’s a good time to replace them.  There’s nothing worse than breaking down on the side of the road 400 miles from your home in an unfamiliar or remote place, especially if you know no one there.  It’s happened to me and believe me, it’s a nightmare and you’ll waste much of your trip with car repairs and towing, not to mention wasting money.

2. Time your trip well.  Leave early enough — preferably very early morning, or even at dawn, to start your trip.   That way you won’t be rushed, and can actually enjoy the drive instead of stressing out over the possibility of being late or arriving late at night — and absolutely exhausted. In my case, I try to time my trips so no to very little time is spent driving after dark — since I don’t see well at night.

3. If you leave at dawn (as I do), there’s something almost otherworldly yet serene about an empty highway with only you (and maybe a few early morning truckers) on the road.   It’s a very zen-like feeling, and you feel like the whole world consists of just you, your car, and the road.   It’s an incredibly peaceful feeling.  Just be sure to carry a thermos of coffee so you don’t fall asleep!

4. Pace yourself.   Never try to drive straight through to your destination without stopping.   Even if you’ve brought along snacks and don;t plan on stopping to eat anywhere, you will almost certainly need to stop for gas or to use the restroom.   Whenever you stop, get out of the car and walk around, stretching all your limbs and getting the blood running through them.   You will be surprised at how stiff and sore your muscles will feel after hours of nonstop driving (or sitting in the passenger seat).   It can be worse than after a workout at the gym!  Spend about ten or fifteen minutes just walking around or stretching.   When you get back in your car you will feel awake and refreshed — and a lot less sore.

5. Stock up before your trip with high energy, healthy, but light snacks.  Granola bars, trail mix, nuts, high energy but filling fruit such as bananas, orange slices in a plastic container,  juice, water and coffee will keep you going without filling you up so much you feel heavy and sleepy.     Cheese sticks or slices will give you the protein you need, but nuts will too if you prefer those.  I don’t like to eat big meals along the road, because they always make me fall asleep.    Keep a thermos of coffee that will last most of the day.  Water is better than soda — if you don’t like the taste of plain water, stock a small cooler filled with naturally flavored sparkling water.  It tastes like soda but is much better for you.  Make sure it’s sweetened with real sugar or a sugar substitute like aspartame if you can’t eat sugar, but avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup.

6. Enjoy the scenery and local customs.   Even in the most seemingly boring locales, there’s always something of local interest to enjoy.   If you stop for gas, look around at the local fare at the gas stations (you may find things there you never saw before and want to try), and spend time people watching to get a feel of the local culture.  Listen to the local accents too.   If the scenery is breathtaking, just enjoy it — but avoid taking pictures unless you’ve stopped the car to take them (or are with a companion who can take them for you).

7. If at all possible, make your road trips take place on weekends.   There’s a lot less traffic on the highways, and you won’t run into annoying rush hour traffic, which can slow you down and make your trip stressful and less pleasurable.   Also, on the weekends, you won’t have to deal with as many semi-trucks and 18 wheelers, which can sometimes become intimidating when you find yourself boxed in by them on the highway.  That probably won’t happen on a Saturday or Sunday.

And finally, this is probably the most important of all —

8. Make music a big part of your road trip.    A road trip just isn’t quite right without a soundtrack to go with it.   If you enjoy listening to the radio, there’s something compelling about just flipping around the stations and finding music you like.  Personally, I love to listen to stations come in and fade out as you enter new cities and regions.   It gives me a feeling of vast distances and a kind of ineffable mystery.   It’s hard to explain but I love it.    I also enjoy listening to my own music on road trips.   If you have a special “road song” you love and that fills you with energy or happiness while you drive, turn it into your own driving anthem.   Here’s mine — the feeling of freedom this song conveys makes me want to roll down my windows all the way and sing as loud as I can along to it:

 

Further reading:

15 Things I Love and Hate About Long Road Trips

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Getting away is good for my soul.

pine_islandI couldn’t have asked for better weather since I’ve been here in Florida.    Everything about this trip has been perfect.  I have so many pictures, but I won’t upload them all here right now because it takes so long.   Most of them have been posted on my Facebook, but when I return home I might share the rest here.   Today is my last day.  I’ll be leaving very early tomorrow and spending most of the day driving.

The pictures posted here were taken yesterday evening in Pine Island — I can’t get over the beauty of the sunsets I’ve been seeing.

There’s an additional benefit to going on vacation.  I haven’t followed the news AT ALL!   In fact, I’m oblivious to what’s been going on in politics this week — and I’m fine with that.    This is not only a vacation from the daily grind, but also from all the negative events in the world right now.     It’s been very liberating being outside and active, instead of sitting indoors glued to MSNBC, getting depressed and anxious over things I can do very little about.

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That doesn’t mean I’m giving up and becoming complacent!  No way will that happen. But it’s definitely a good thing to take a break from all that.   There’s truth to “ignorance is bliss” as long as it doesn’t become a permanent way of being.

 

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Pictures: 4/8/17

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Seagulls all facing the sunset.  You should have heard the din they made!

 

I haven’t had time to write much, so I’ll just share the photos I took yesterday and caption them.   We had a wonderful day.  It was a little too cold to swim, but we waded in the shallow water on the beach, spent some time relaxing in the hot tub, went back to the beach at sunset where I took most of these photos, and then went to a party at my son’s apartment where we met some of his friends.   It was a fun day!

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I found this shrub interesting.  Notice the fall colors on some of the leaves.  I have no idea what it is.

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Looking back on the beach just before sunset.

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A romantic picture of my daughter and her friend as the sun sets over the Gulf.

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I don’t know what these are exactly but since they were at the top of the beach, they appear to be the stumps of some kind of shrubs where the tides have come in and cut them off.

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Another look at the stumps.  I think they’re fascinating.

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So moody!  I love this.

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Seagulls at sunset.  They were sure noisy!

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Safe arrival.

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That’s my son at Hudson Park.   It was windy and rather chilly!

I’m just checking in to let everyone know I arrived in Florida safely.

The 12 hour long car trip was, well, a trip.    When I left my house at 4:30 AM the weather was horrible.  It was very cold and extremely windy, with a heavy, slushy rain that fortunately wasn’t icy enough to accumulate on the roads but left slushy patches on my windshield that the wipers could barely keep up with.

Driving down out of the mountains was kind of hellish, because I don’t see well driving in the dark to begin with , and it was made worse by the glare of the rain on the roads.    The roads weren’t icy, but were slick so I had to drive slowly.    The good thing about that was there was no one on the road at that hour.

When I entered South Carolina, the rain stopped, but it was still dark.  Early morning traffic was beginning to pick up,  and I stopped at a gas station in a tiny village called Joanna.   The sky was just beginning to lighten, which is pictured below, taken from the station’s parking lot.

 

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Bizarrely, the gas station specialized in selling New York City souvenirs — coffee mugs, T-shirts, plates, collectibles.    I asked the Indian owner (who was running the register) about that and he said it was because he was from New York City.   We wound up having a conversation about New York because I grew up and around that area too.  Silently I wondered why the heck he had moved to this unknown village in South Carolina that had nothing much going for it.

The sun rose just as I entered Columbia, just in time for early morning rush hour.   I stopped a few more times to stretch or use the restroom, but I didn’t have to stop long anywhere because I had brought snacks with me in the car to avoid time wasted eating or purchasing food. Besides, eating too much on a long drive makes me sleepy.   High energy snacks like granola bars, pre-wrapped slices of cheese, or cookies work best for me on a long drive.  They keep my energy up without making me groggy.

Still, the drive was exhausting.  By now the sky was bright blue and clear as a bell.  Despite the wind, it was hard to believe I’d left that morning in a slush storm.

By now, it had heated up, although it was still windy (and would remain so all the way down to where I was going). At the Georgia welcome center I stripped off my coat and hoodie, which I hadn’t been able to remove in the car, and changed from boots and socks into sandals.   Ah, much better.

By the time I arrived at the Florida welcome center (where they give you a free cup of orange or grapefruit juice), I felt like I’d run a marathon.    Why is it that sitting in a car all day is more exhausting than working out for hours?

As I entered Florida, my daughter texted me telling me they were leaving the house.   She and her friend planned to drive separately, although we were to all meet at the hotel.    Well, they didn’t leave my house until 12:30 — 8 hours after I did!     I continued on.   The drive into Florida is pretty much a straight shot — I-26, and then I-95.   But after Jacksonville it gets hairy, because there are so many road changes and they are easy to miss.     Thank goodness I had my GPS!   Even so, I missed one turn as I entered the county my son lives in and had to backtrack — in heavy rush hour traffic, which was more than a little scary.    I thought of my daughter and her friend and hoped they were safe.  I’d asked them to text me every so often to let me know where they were, and for the most part, they did.

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I arrived at the hotel and my son was already there waiting — in his new Chevy pickup!   Well, it’s not exactly new (it’s a 2006 model) but it looks and runs like new.    We went to Wawa (a convenience store chain) and ordered sandwiches.  Wawa sandwiches are awesome because you can special order ANYTHING on them via computer.  I had my tuna salad done like a Jersey Mike’s sandwich — with spinach, lettuce, oil and vinegar.    We got some donuts to take back with us.

He wanted to show me around so we drove a little bit.  We went to a park where he plays Pokemon Go!  (a game where you actually go outside to capture creatures on your phone) and walked around a bit.    A strong wind was blowing off the gulf, and it was COLD!  I could hardly believe this was Florida.   I was glad I’d decided to bring my hoodie.

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Look how strong the wind was blowing.   The buildings in the background, including the one with the thatched roof, is a bar/restaurant that plays its music LOUD!  I was jamming to it to stay warm.

It was too cold to swim, but when we got back to his apartment, we went in the hot tub and just relaxed and caught up on everything.    The hot tub worked wonders on my sore muscles from the long drive.    After I dried off, he drove me back to the hotel room where I unpacked and watched TV (not the news, for a change!)

I started to worry about the kids, because it was dark now and I hadn’t heard from them in awhile.  Being me, I had visions of them being in a terrible accident.

I called and talked to my daughter’s friend.  He said she’d fallen asleep and since he was driving he hadn’t been able to call for awhile.    They finally arrived right at midnight. We ate the donuts I’d brought back and went to bed.  They were as exhausted as I was!

The weather is supposed to warm up and today as I’m writing this I can already feel the change.    I’m not sure yet what we’ll be doing today, but whatever it is should be fun.   I’m still a bit sore from the long drive, though!

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Excited!

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Tonight I’m going to bed early because I’m leaving before dawn tomorrow to drive to Florida’s Gulf Coast to spend 6 days with my son.

It should be a fun week, and a welcome diversion from all the disturbing news in the world lately.   I’m going to try to avoid the news but I will be bringing my laptop with me so I’ll probably check that at night at the hotel.

I’ll be at a hotel this time because my daughter is also coming (she’s leaving later, so we aren’t riding together) with her boyfriend and my son doesn’t have enough room for all 3 of us.

I’ll definitely post pictures and try to write something every day, same as I did during my trip last August.

I’m looking forward to the 10 1/2 hour road trip nearly as much as the trip itself!  I love driving on the highway very early in the morning, before dawn, feeling like I’m the only person on the road and maybe in the world!

I wrote about the joys of early morning road trips in this post.

 

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“Tommy” (The Who): full album.

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“Tommy” was one of the first “concept albums” I ever owned, back in the 1970s.  (The album was released in 1969).   “Tommy” may be The Who’s most ambitious project ever, and all the songs tell a story, so they should be listened to in order.

A short synopsis of the story (since this was performed as a rock opera before being released as a concept album, it includes the names of the original cast members):

After seeing his stepfather murder his father during an argument over his mother (Ann Margret), young Tommy goes into shock, suddenly becoming psychosomatically deaf, dumb and blind. As a teenager, Tommy (Roger Daltrey) stumbles upon a pinball machine and discovers he is a natural prodigy at the game. Fame and fortune follow for Tommy, as he first becomes a pinball champion and later the messiah of a religious cult who view his pinball skills as a miraculous sign of divine intervention.

I was just listening to it today (on Youtube), because my original copy (a two album set) was sold in 1994 along with all my other albums I’d collected from the 1960s – 1990s.   The owner of a used record store came to my house and bought my entire collection of about 600+ albums without even looking at the titles.   There was some real shit in there, some of the records or their covers in poor condition, but there were also a lot of classics ones in excellent condition, like my copy of “Tommy.”   The guy just took the whole lot for $300.  I was desperate for the cash at the time, but I still have regrets about getting rid of all of them.

Listening to “Tommy” again today, I was as blown away and haunted by this ‘rock opera’ as I was when I first heard it as a young teen.

For your listening enjoyment, here’s a trip back in time, courtesy of The Who!

1-Overture 00:00
2-It’s a Boy 05:21
3-1921 05:59
4-Amazing Journey 08:48
5-Sparks 12:12
6-The Hawker (Eyesight To The Blind) 15:58
7-Christmas 18:12
8-Cousin Kevin 22:45
9-The Acid Queen 26:52
10-Underture 30:26
11-Do You Think It’s Alright? 40:30
12-Fiddle About 40:55
13-Pinball Wizard 42:26
14-There’s a Doctor 45:28
15-Go to the Mirror! 45:52
16-Tommy Can You Hear Me? 49:40
17-Smash the Mirror 51:15
18-Sensation 52:50
19-Miracle Cure 55:19
20-Sally Simpson 55:31
21-I’m Free 59:42
22-Welcome 1:02:21
23-Tommy’s Holiday Camp 1:06:54
24-We’re Not Gonna Take It 1:07:51
25-See Me, Feel Me 1:11:20

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Feeling sorry for inanimate objects.

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Credit: Danielle Hamer Photography/Abandoned Objects

I saw someone’s tweet today that caught my attention because I could relate to its sentiment.

True story @ work tonite I completely crushed a paper cup out of stress at work & almost threw it away but felt bad for the cup so I used it. 

And a few minutes later:

This falls under the same category as me feeling sad after accidentally stepping on an ant, but worse.

I thought I was the only one who ever had these absurd feelings of remorse or pity for inanimate objects, but apparently I’m not.

I remember a couple of years ago, when I was painting my kitchen Kelly green, I accidentally flung some of the paint from my brush all over a small throw pillow that had somehow wound up on the kitchen floor and I’d neglected to pick up and bring to safety.  (Don’t ask me how it wound up on the kitchen floor).   A small fake-velvet tan pillow with floral embroidery was permanently ruined with Kelly green paint and it was all my fault.  I had to throw it away and I felt like weeping.

How absurd is that?  I was never attached to that pillow; it was worth nothing.  I probably found it for a buck at some yard sale, but I remember feeling like the worst person in the world because the thing looked so pathetic with lurid green paint splattered over its delicate tan velvet adorned with Chinese-factory made embroidery.

I remember when my daughter was four, she tossed a Pound Puppy out of our car window to see what would happen to it.   Of course I had to keep going, but in my rearview mirror,  I saw the car behind me run over the stuffed toy and flatten it like a pancake.  Its petroleum-based stuffing exploded all over the road like popcorn.   My daughter laughed.  I felt inexplicably sad.

There have been other times like that too.   Like the time that, in frustration, I threw a paperback book (one I’d never read and never intended to read) against the wall and split its binding.  Or  the other time I accidentally burned a cheap oven mitt that had a cute lattice-like pattern on it.     I actually liked that oven mitt, but it had cost me $3 at Dollar General.   There were a gazillion more just like it. Besides, it was intended to be stuck inside a hot oven.   Getting burned was one of the risks that came with its intended use.

None of these were valuable objects, or even objects that had any special meaning to me.  They were just part of the background — things I’d acquired and that were just there.   Things I never thought much about.    Of course I realized they had no feelings, and could feel neither emotional or physical pain.   I’m not an idiot.

And yet, when bad things happened to them — or worse, when I did bad things to them — I felt just terrible, as if I’d killed someone.   Would these inexplicable feelings of guilt had been less had I loved those objects or had they been valuable, either financially or in the sentimental sense?    Maybe I’d have grieved over their loss but have been spared that guilt.   After all, those poor objects were never loved, and then were destroyed through my own carelessness.  Maybe if I’d cared, I wouldn’t have done things like spill green paint all over them or thrown them hard against a wall in frustration.

Sometimes I also feel bad for abandoned or neglected objects.    There’s a website I visit sometimes called Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos.  The site owner has a bizarre obsession with those ubiquitous plastic outdoor chairs.   He or she calls them the “garden chairs of solitude” and positions them in poignant configurations that just rip your heart out, like in this photo:

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“Garden chairs of solitude”

Whenever I rescue some forgotten or abandoned object from certain destruction by the trash compactor that barrels down the road every Monday, I feel like I’ve done a good thing for it, as if the thing actually cares.

 

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We live in dark times, but…

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Yes, we are living in very dark times.  Not just here in America, but in many other countries around the world.    It’s enough to send the most emotionally healthy person into the pits of despair, but we can’t allow that to happen.   Succumbing to despair and hopelessness is exactly what the enemy wants, because when we’re helpless and hopeless we can lose our souls. We become weak and malleable spiritually, and more easily used by the forces of darkness.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man of God, a preacher who fought for social justice and what was right and good in the eyes of God — a stark contrast to many American “Christians” of today, who somehow believe wealth, whiteness, material success, and greed are godly, and if you aren’t blessed with these things (and if you don’t vote Republican), you aren’t one of the “chosen.”

This uniquely American belief system is based on Calvinism, which is in my opinion an ugly and hateful philosophy that teaches that Jesus didn’t die to save everyone, but only the  “elect.”  The belief that only certain individuals can be saved and this was determined before you were born is called “predestination.”   Many fundamentalist Christian churches believe in this.  To those who hold this doctrine, there is nothing you can do if God hasn’t chosen you.  You will not only be cursed with disease, misery, and poverty, but will ultimately wind up being punished for all eternity — just because God didn’t favor you.   This horrible and cruel doctrine is in direct opposition to what Jesus taught us.   Today, of course, someone who acts the way Jesus did would be called a “socialist.”

If God is really like that, I want nothing to do with him.  That God is worse than the devil himself.  But I don’t believe God is like that.

We live in dark times, and more and more people are embracing a false Christianity that is anything but.  They may read their Bibles and attend church every Sunday, but it means nothing.  Even the enemy can spout Bible verses.     Those of us who practice kindness and compassion, and care about the less fortunate, the immigrants, the old, the sick, the children, and the oppressed and suffering people of this world (the way Jesus did) have a duty to pray for those who have been deceived.   We must not lose sight of the truth, whether it’s refusing to listen to “fake news” or “alternative facts,” or not denying such realities as climate change or the fact that none of us can survive without each other.  We are not islands and were never built for individualism above community.  We are tribal creatures, intended to support each other and work toward the greater good, not just what is good for us.    What benefits you benefits me, and benefits the entire society.

We must pray the ignorant ones see the truth and stop listening to and believing the lies that run rampant across the land these days.    America is not the promised land and it never was.    People who believe that America is God’s chosen nation and only the white and rich are blessed by God aren’t evil but they are ignorant.

America may fall just like the Roman empire, but those of us who believe God loves us all and who reach out to others rather than kicking them when they’re already down will be able to transcend all the hatred, violence, greed, and selfishness that defines America (and the world) today and find peace and joy in our relationship with God.

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