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Tag Archives: tolerance

Face Painting for World Peace

photo(2)Some of the events in my novels were inspired by real life occurrences, some came from dreams or daydreams and others are a melange of stories told to me by others. I suspect this is the case for most writers. A few of my tales, however, happened almost the way I tell them. One such narrative is Lola’s realizing how running the face painting booth at her children’s grade school changed her life.

This is autobiographical. I was raised in a small town filled with only northern Europeans, loved by adults who were at best distrustful of others. Education taught me that tolerance was the way to go. But the mind can conclude what it will; it is harder for the heart, for anyone’s heart, to feel comfortable reaching beyond how one was raised.

It was the south. It was barely two decades after the civil rights movement and it was a world in which most adults of all ethnic groups felt distrust. When confronted with any human who didn’t share my ancestry, I was awkward and nervous. I wanted to do the right thing, but had no clue how to relate to anyone who didn’t look like they could have grown up with me. Then I had children of my own, and off they went to school in a very different world than mine had been.

It brings me pride that my own kids were far more oblivious to variety in human appearance than I ever was. Watching them helped me. But in the end it was their classmates who helped me the most. The other children at their school — the children whose ancestors hailed from South Asia, Africa, the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia — they managed to teach me to recognize our common humanity as they spoke to me through their love of flowers and ninja turtles. It sounds silly, but sometimes the truth is. As I painted scary snakes and colorful rainbows on their skin, I earned their respect and their smiles and I became a different person.  A better one.

photo(1)Decades have passed and I am in the process of cleaning out the home I have lived in for years. It’s been a little painful, forcing myself to part with keepsakes as I make my way through attics and closets. Last week I found these — signs for my booth from over the years.

I need to keep these, I thought. This is an important part of me. “You’ve got to be kidding,” my husband said, looking at my pile of big, dilapidated poster boards. He was right. These did not need to be hauled across the country with us.

“Take a picture of them,” my daughter suggested. Brilliant. Today, a picture is never lost,  particularly if you post it to your blog and tell the world.

Hey. Look at this. It might seem silly but these aren’t as trivial as they look. They taught me a lesson that has made my life so much richer.  And then I chose to retell my own story of this awakening of the heart through my character Lola. And Lola, well, Lola is going to take what I learned and she’s going to write an article about how face painting could help us find our way to a more peaceful society and with that kernel Lola is going to go out there and try to change the world. No, she is going to change to world.

Luckily for our over-stuffed, rented storage area, I don’t need the real posters anymore. I carry their message in my heart, where it belonged all along.

For more thoughts on letting go, check out with a breath of kindness blow the rest away on my y1 blog. Also check out Kurt Brindley’s blog Relating to Humans. You’ll find a more personal account of this story on his page on Race Issues.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in being better, empathy, oneness, writing

 

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Tolerance gets a test

nothingThose of us who walk around proclaiming how humans ought to treat each other with more kindness and respect run into this problem. We find people doing things that aren’t illegal or unethical but just make us say “yuck”. Whether it is hot dog eating contests or tongue splitting procedures, our first instinct is to search for reasons why this is a a genuinely bad idea. There must be some valid objection that allows us be disgusted. There is health and nutrition. Infections and sanitation. And always, the children. We have to protect the children.

Of course, one quickly sees how those same arguments are used to ban books and ostracize anyone unusual and ultimately discriminate against freedom of choice of all kinds. Do you really want to live a world were anyone gets told how much they can eat of what or how little they can modify their own body? I don’t. And I don’t believe in treating people poorly based on preferences they are entitled to have. I don’t have to like their choices, but I’m also not entitled to a world in which my sensibilities are never offended by other people enjoying what I don’t like.

Enter the new BSMD craze.Or is it BDSM? I’m not sure, but the indie publishing world is aflame with hunky dominant men who enjoy hurting and demeaning their otherwise strong and gorgeous women who apparently love every bit of the pain and humiliation. Given that I am the author of four self-published books, I do some marketing research and was kind of aware of this in the background. However, I recently took my latest creation, c3, on a blog tour and got a whole new look at what is out there. Oh my.

My tour was conducted by a recommended site that focuses on fantasy, science fiction and romance. Kind of a nice mix, I thought, and I checked out some of the blogs ahead of time and they seemed fine. Once my tour started, however, I noticed how many of the sites involved required me to click something affirming that I was over 18 years of age and did not object to sexual content. That was fine.I enjoy a little erotica now and then. No problem.

To be fair, many sites did include a wider variety of stories, but once it moved to the erotic, it looked like most of the folks in these books were busy tying each other up and beating on each other. Yuck. My fantasy novel championing the power of young girls to take control of their own bodies and their own sexuality was actually sandwiched in between a novel about a football player who likes his women to pretend to be submissive little girls and an excerpt about one female submissive interviewing another about getting beaten with a stainless steel cane by her fiance as he ‘prepares her’ for their honeymoon. I’m not making this up. There was also a blog feature about how African American’s are embracing the sadomasochist fun, and listing various conventions to attend. Conventions? These people with slavery agreements and stainless steel canes have conventions?

spirit science 1I took a few deep breaths. Adults are entitled to all the consenting fun they can handle, I reminded myself. They are entitled to read about it as well. I just had no idea that there was such a market for something that seems to go far beyond mostly gentle horseplay all the way to a lifestyle of chosen submission. I found myself angry about how often these “she really loves” it arguments are used to justify genuine abuse and rape, and how debilitating such treatment is to the many women who find it disgusting, not erotic. I found myself protective for the young men and women who might read this and let it shape their ideas of how to behave, in the bedroom and outside of it, with those who share such tastes and more critically with those who don’t. Yes, I found myself wanting to protect the children. I took a few more deep breaths.

It was too late to cancel the book tour, so I let it wind itself down, and declined to add any more posts or articles of my own once I hit this point. Honestly, I’m still struggling with how I feel about this.

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in writing

 

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The True Children of a Lesser God

I know that people want to read light happy things, but every so often I find a blog that tears at my heart and screams for me to pass along the message. This post says to me, think of the children everywhere. In Syria, absolutely, but also in every other repressive and war torn society that we prefer not to consider.

Attenti al Lupo

Child in Syria

We are not talking about it. It’s a shadow. Just far and away. We are not talking about it.

We are not talking about the children of Syria.

In February a report was presented to the U.N. Security Council that verifies the terror suffered by Syria’s children during three years of an insane conflict. But they don’t care. No action.

Children have been sexually abused. Raped. Executed. Children have been used as human shield. Their relatives have been tortured before them.

More than 10,000 have been killed. We are silent. They don’t exist. The children of Syria are far and away. Shadows and ashes that we ignore.

They are the true children of a lesser God.

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Posted by on March 15, 2014 in empathy, peace

 

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