Thoughts on Terrorism

Thirteen years ago, I had no idea what terrorism was. I had simply never heard the term. In fact, I think I can remember asking my dad on September 11, 2001 what a terrorist was after hearing the term “terrorist attack” used to describe the day’s events. Common sense tells me now a terrorist is one who inflicts terror, but the whole idea was so foreign to me on that awful day that I asked. Then I spent the next two nights sleeping on a pallet on my parents’ bedroom floor at the age of 21.

I suppose I lived a very sheltered life in my first twenty-one years, because I now realize there are parts of the world where terrorism is commonplace and children are raised with the real threat of terror at any given moment. Thankfully, my childhood was free of this worry. My biggest worry as a child was that Mama would call me back home before I wanted to be finished playing with Jennifer and Johnathan. I got to attend school and play with my friends without ever hearing about beheadings or hijacked passenger planes crashing into buildings. I’m sad that we can’t say the same about the children of today. On September 11, 2001, my sister, Ashley, lived in Bossier City just miles from where Air Force One landed at Barksdale Air Force Base and President Bush made a statement to the nation. My nephew, Caleb, was 1 1/2 at the time. Seth was three. Jacob wasn’t even born. My nephews have been raised in a world where terrorism and the threat of it is a reality. Their earliest memories probably all came after 9/11/01. This makes me sad.

Bin Laden orchestrated the deaths of nearly 3,000 people doing nothing more scandalous or offensive than going to work or flying across the country for a business trip or vacation. Eleven years later, four Americans were killed in an attack on Benghazi. In the past few weeks, ISIS has beheaded two Americans and seems to be more and more emboldened to commit more barbaric acts. Well, I say they’re emboldened, but they’re still hiding behind their masks. Is there really such a thing as an emboldened coward? That seems like an oxymoron.

These terrorists are serious. They hate Americans and they want us dead. They’re not “JV” as President Obama previously labeled them. The Mexico/United States border situation is a joke and ISIS could send their jihadists across that border far too easily. (Jihad – another word I did not know until I was an adult.) We are inviting terror on our own soil again. September 11, 2001 was a sucker punch; this is entirely different. We’re rolling out the red carpet. We can’t be surprised when heinous acts start happening on American soil. The lack of leadership in this country is astounding and embarrassing. This terrorist group must be taken seriously. We are not dealing with reasonable people here, and if we aren’t careful, it’s going to be kill or be killed before we know it. Our President needs to discover his backbone and let our strong, honorable military resolve this problem once and for all. Just get it done. Don’t play around with them or try to pacify them. Put an end to them. Destroy them.

We can’t go back to a time when terrorism isn’t real to us. I would imagine everyone who was over the age of eight or ten likely remembers where they were on September 11, 2001. It was a day that showed there was true evil in the world to those of us who had never really encountered it. I pray that our leaders will do everything in their power to prevent something horrible like that from happening again. If we close our eyes really tight and try to ignore them, they don’t disappear. They’re still there. We have to stop these terrorists in their tracks. The grownups in the room need to actually be the grownups in the room and make the right decisions, so maybe, just maybe, the kids can be carefree kids again.

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Fundraising has really taken a hit, y’all.

There’s a phenomenon that happens here in West Monroe.  I’m so curious as to whether or not it happens in other places.  If it only happens here, I may have to move away to escape it!

Often here in West Monroe you will find people – youth sports teams, charities, firemen, etc. – standing in busy intersections with buckets, begging for money.  Innocent, unsuspecting drivers get stranded at a light only to be encountered with these obnoxious, uncomfortable “fundraisers”.  I try to avoid eye contact, roll up my windows, and turn up my music.  It irritates the life out of me.  The firemen don’t seem to bother me as much, waving around their boots for money, for some reason.  I’m not sure what their cause is.  I guess I’m just partial to firefighters.  But completely healthy, athletic, able bodied teenagers who play sports competitively?  No ma’am.  Wash a car.  Mow a yard.  Babysit.  Don’t stand out on a street corner begging for money.

I know people always say “don’t ever say what you won’t do!”, but I can say with certainty that if I ever have children (probably not going to happen!) and my son or daughter is on a basketball team or in a youth group that plans to raise funds by standing in busy intersections begging for cash, I will be the difficult parent who says, “Nope.  Do some extra chores and you can earn some money for your cause.”  No indeed.  My kid will not be reporting for duty at the intersection of Well Rd. & Cypress Street.

Don’t get me wrong; I love giving.  I love giving cheerfully.  When someone shoves their bucket through my car window, I’d rather just spit my gum in it.  This would not be a cheerful giving situation for me.  Make yourself useful, folks!  Put some soap & water in that bucket & earn the funds you want.  There are lots of dirty cars out there –  mine included.  Hard work & effort is a lot more admirable than dodging cars at rush hour.  And it’s less life threatening.

Does this happen in other places?  Do you find it as annoying as I do?

Oh SNAP.

I love America.  God has given me countless blessings in life, but two of those blessings were already mine when I took my first breath.

#1 – I was born the daughter of my wonderful parents.

#2 – I was born an American.

I feel genuinely blessed to live in this great country.  I’m free to practice my Christian faith.  I’m free to further my education if I choose.  I’m free to travel the country, free to vote, free to express an opinion.  I see such a sad, shameful problem that our government has enabled.  It started as a display of compassion, a help to those who needed it.  It has, in far too many cases, turned into a crutch and has put the brakes on motivation.

Food stamps.  SNAP.  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The number of SNAP recipients over the last few years has skyrocketed.  I know there are people who need assistance and I am all for helping them.  I truly am.  The problem is that for so many, there is no motivation.  They don’t want to even try to earn a higher income (or an income at all, in some cases), because they don’t want to be disqualified from receiving SNAP.  (I have found this to be true; I have conversations with folks on a weekly basis who have proven this.)  When a single mom would rather receive food stamps than have her child’s father pay child support to help pay for things like food, there’s a problem.  (Yes, this happens.  Often.  I’ve seen it first hand.  Often.  And unfortunately, because of current law, this is common.)  When a single mom doesn’t want the father of her child to pay child support, but is very worried about her WIC & Food Stamps, and says all she has to feed her child are a few junk food items while she herself reeks of cigarette smoke, there’s a problem.  (True story.)  There is no motivation.  Far too many people want their government entitlement programs to keep funding their lifestyles and putting food in their bellies, but have no desire to try to better themselves.  This is a problem.  This is where we are, America.  Something needs to change.  These people with no motivation could actually do more than they give themselves credit for.  They’re limiting themselves.  The EBT food stamp card is illusive.  It’s not the golden ticket.  Self sufficiency is worth so much more.  It feels better.  It tastes better – even when you’re buying the generic store brand products and grocery shopping on a tight budget.

Fraud and abuse are so out of control that I do not know how this problem could be fixed.  Government is way too big and out of control.  The government program looks much like the government itself.  It’s messy and chaotic and completely out of hand.  But something needs to be done.  One obvious step, to me, is to make child support mandatory when a single parent receives SNAP.  Feeding a child is a basic need that both parents should be responsible for.  This responsibility should not fall on the taxpayer.  It should not even be an option.  It’s a simple equation, really.

Single Parent + SNAP = Mandatory Child Support Case

Simple.

Would some single parents still need SNAP even with the absent parent paying child support?  Sure.  And if so, then by all means, they should receive it.  But to have the ability to say, “No, I’d rather just get my food stamps” is nonsense.  It shouldn’t be an option.  Mom and dad need to feed their children.

Part of the problem is that we are such a consumer driven society.  We want what we want when we want it.  Priorities are way out of line.  An iPhone is not more important than feeding your family.  Cigarettes are not more important than feeding your family.  A Coach purse is not more important than feeding your family.  These items are luxuries, not necessities.  But here in America, according to commercials, you “deserve” a new television, a new car, a new smartphone.

Food, shelter, clothing.  These are necessities.

For those who sincerely need the help, I believe we should help.  Absolutely.  But I also think part of helping is motivating people and guiding people into a more prosperous future for themselves, where they are productive citizens.  I believe a lot of the leadership on this could come from the church.  Christians are called to care for the poor; part of caring is helping show the way to a better life.  It’s like the old phrase – “Give a man a fish; feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish; feed him for lifetime.”  We need to teach people to fish.

Ideas?  Thoughts?

Really, America? (#1)

There are many things I don’t understand.  In fact, I may come up with a little series here on my blog.  I think I’ll call it the Really, America? series.  Every so often, something will come along that baffles me.  So here’s today’s mind-boggling issue.

Today a ruling was handed down in Colorado that permits a 6 year old boy who identifies as a girl to use the girls’ restroom at school.  They’re calling this six year old child transgendered.  A six year old little boy.  A psychologist labeled this child transgendered when he was four.  Four!  And now they’re ruling that he should be able to use the same bathroom as all the little girls.  Wow.

What about the actual little girls, who were born with little girl parts?  If I had a little girl at that school and they ruled that a little boy with little boy parts who wanted to have little girl parts could utilize the little girls’ restroom, I’d have a problem with that.  A big problem.  According to the article, the school had denied the child’s access to the girls’ bathroom, but was going to allow him to use the bathrooms designated for teachers or nurses.  I think that was very compassionate of them in this situation.  If this family was so against having their son use the boys’ restroom, then that was a reasonable and compassionate thing for the school to allow.  Oh, no.  This wasn’t good enough.  This was discrimination.

Now, they say, this clears the way for students – at least in Colorado at this point – to use the bathrooms that “match who they are”.  I’m sorry, what?  This is not difficult.  Public restrooms have always been set up for people to go to the bathroom that matches who they are.  Those with penises, proceed to the boys’ restroom.  Those with vaginas, proceed to the girls’ restroom.  Penis – boy.  Vagina – girl.   Why is this confusing?

I read some comments posted underneath the article.  One stated that what is to stop any man from going into a women’s locker room or women’s shower at a gym, because he “feels” like a woman?  Bingo.  Someone else said his son had been crawling on all fours and meowing like a cat all afternoon, so he was going to respect his decision and get him a fur coat, and then sue the school to put a litter box in the bathroom for him to use.  I have to admit, that one made me laugh out loud.

But wow.  This is where we are, America.  Really?  Wow.