No Shades of Gray about About Fifty Shades of Grey

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The Monkee’s (a very popular music group from the 70’s) recorded a song called “Shades of Gray.” The lyrics describe a time in life when things seemed more clear, easier to understand. Yet, the lyrics go on to say that, “Today there is no black or white…only shades of gray.” Perhaps the movie/book title, “Fifty Shades of Grey” was intended to be a play on words suggesting that the issues here were not clear-not black or white-but shades of gray.

I shared two links on my facebook post that explained my views on the new movie released this weekend. There were many others sharing other post as well with the same ideas. This is a black and white issues for me. For many this movie is romanticizing the ideas of abuse and control as “love.” We live in a society filled with domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, and more. Love and romance have nothing to do with control, bullying, abuse, and victimization.

Now, please hear me when I say that I don’t care what two (or more) consenting adults do or with whom they do it. If sexual role-playing and fantasy are what you need in the bedroom, then that is your choice. This is not a commentary on S&M lifestyle. In fact, most of those involved with that lifestyle are raising their voices about the fact that their lifestyle if one of choice, not being forced to do something they don’t want to do, being manipulated, or being bullied.

This is about a culture that thinks the kind of control, abuse, violence, manipulation, degradation, humiliation, and more is a valid form of love and romance. This is about standing up for those who live with these issues around the world. This is about believing that just because someone winds up in a situation like these that it equals consent. Some have said that Anastasia gives her consent to the abuse, but she is a young woman who is bullied and manipulated.

On the facebook post, I had one comment that included this line…”The book is about their love and how her love for him and his love for her changed him.” I read an article by Angie Aker on the Upworthy site who addresses this question:  http://www.upworthy.com/6-real-quotes-from-fifty-shades-that-could-make-you-rethink-how-you-feel-about-it?c=ufb1
Someone said to me, “But Angie, don’t you see? In the end, Anastasia liberates him from this and brings him to true love. She is the hero.”
RIGHT. In this fictional fantasy book.
The most surprising thing about abuse victims is that they rarely see themselves that way at first. They often see themselves as strong people trying to rescue a volatile but salvageable partner. It’s when abuse victims start to let go of the fairy tale that they alone MUST stay so they can “fix” this person that they can finally start to rebuild their lives and find a love that fortifies them.

I experienced abuse as a child and as an adult. I have been that victim who felt I could fix things if I only had been a better little girl, if I was smarter, if I just did what was expected of me, if I just knew how to love more or better, if I just prayed better or harder, if, if, if. I was in my mid 30’s when someone showed me the truth. I was not then, not now, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever BE RESPONSIBLE for the CHOICES made by another person.

There is an often-quoted verse in 1 Corinthians sometimes called the Love Verse. This is what love should be about.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

If anyone can show me anything in “Fifty Shades of Grey” that looks like that, please let me know.

I am writing about this issue in the hope that someone will read it or anything else being shared on facebook or other social media and find a way to reach out. There are people who understand and can help. Let others who have found their voice help you find yours.

National Domestic Abuse Hotline   24/7 hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

National Human Trafficking Resource Center and Hotline  1-888-373-7888

National Sexual Assault Hotline  1.800.656.HOPE

Christmas Present- A Christmas Trilogy (part 2)

Cathy:

Thought I would share this post from last Christmas. Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Originally posted on Cathy's Voice Now:

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It is close to midnight on Sunday night and I am sitting in an empty office room.  During the day, the room is filled with volunteers and staff talking on phones and with each other.  But, at night there is only one person covering the phones, and tonight it is me.  I work for local hotline crisis center.  I have done this for over 13 years now.  We talk to people who are in pain, hurt, scared, angry, lost, and sometimes suicidal.

I chose this work because without a line just like this one, I might not be here today.  In March of 1987, I made a call to a local crisis line because I wanted to die. I thought  I could no longer handle the pain and guilt that ruled my life. I felt that God had long since given up on me, as had everyone else. A wonderful…

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An Experiment in Non Violence – What About Football?

Good Intentions

The text below is an assignment for my Religion and Society class.

Experiment with Ahimsa,” following the model of Gandhi and his autobiography. After re-reading about Gandhi’s understanding of ahimsa and his experiments with Truth, conduct an “experiment with non-violence.” For some set time (3-7 days), attempt to refrain from all forms of violence towards other human beings and animals, including (but no limited to) anger, hate, gossip, personal criticism, evil thoughts, jealousy, and physical violence toward any other being. Try to remove violence from speech, mind, and action; and try not to support others if they engage in violent speech, thought or conduct. You must maintain a record of your experiences and “experiments with Truth”, using Gandhi’s book as your model to emulate.

As we discussed this in class, I asked about food and football.  The Professor smiled and explained that we would have to make our own determination about how far we were willing and able to go with food in this process.   Since football is a sport and there is no intention of harm, I am going to say that watching football wouldn’t be a hindrance to this process. ” In fact,  he (Gandhi) was a path-breaker of sorts, even in football, when in 1896, when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, still a young, relatively unknown lawyer in South Africa, was amongst a group of pre-dominantly Indian men, who helped form the Transvaal Indian Football Association” (Ayush Srivastava – The Goal).  There was even a team called the Passive Resisters. Later, Gandhi would say that while his country was in turmoil against the British, people should be more interested in changing the country than sports.

While reading about Gandhi and his idea of ahisma, we learned that Ghandi believed non violence went far beyond “doing no violence or harm”.  Gandhi taught that ahisma was non violence in our thoughts, intentions, actions, and our lifestyle. It was about compassion and love.

“True ahimsa should mean a complete freedom from ill-will and anger and hate and an overflowing love for all.”-Mahatma Gandhi
It reminds me a lot of the teaching of Jesus.  He told us to love one another as He loved us.  He said that the intent of your heart was as important as your deeds.  We are told to love our enemies and forgive them.  So, in attempting this experiment, it seems that perhaps this is the life I should be living as a Christian anyway.
Part of the assignment is to take this vow publicly as a means of accountability.  I will begin the experiment in ahisma this Sunday, Oct.26 and go through Friday, Oct. 31st.  The Professor jokingly said that we may want to sleep a lot during this time.    If you see or hear me acting in a way that would not fit this lifestyle, please let me know.  I promise no anger, hate, criticism, or evil thoughts!

Another Empty Toilet Paper Roll!

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” ― M. Scott Peck

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It is inevitable that at some point, everyone will find himself or herself comfortably seated and suddenly realize that the toilet paper roll is empty with no spare roll in sight. This situation has several solutions, although most of them are embarrassing to some degree. The worst solution, in my opinion, would be asking for help. “Um, can someone bring me a roll of toilet paper, please?”

If we are to believe M. Scott Peck, then this could be one of our finest moments. As my friend, Jan F. used to ask, “What is it I am supposed to learn from this?” One lesson may be to take more time in preparation and look next time. Another may be to have a spare roll hidden away for such an emergency. Perhaps, the “truer” lesson is learning to ask for help. (Oh, and forgive the seriously disturbed person who left the empty roll.)

This year has brought more than usual “empty toilet paper holders” to my life, and I have tried to look at each situation with an eye for a creative solution and what lesson might I learn. I will admit that this question is usually the last thing on my mind when something happens. My first reaction is pure crisis mode. I know this about myself, yet in those first moments of what I consider a crisis in my life, I panic. I decide the worst possible outcome to the problem; this is usually an exaggerated worst possible outcome. I internalize first, ask God why He wants to torture me this way, breakdown and talk to someone I trust, and then, and only then I go into solution mode.

Last Thursday  presented one more empty toilet paper roll in my life. I did not create the situation. In fact, I didn’t even know there was a situation. Someone else “left the toilet paper roll empty.”  It seems  all I can do is move into solution mode. This financial crisis took me totally by surprise, and it will be a challenge in my life for the next three months or so.

My mother was the one who taught me most about working in a solution mode. She overcame so many obstacles in her life, and with each one, she became more determined to overcome whatever may come her way. My mother was a unique character. Her solution sometimes included being a steamroller, yelling, cursing, and being a total b###ch!  She would agree with that statement and be proud of it.

I have been thinking about her a lot this weekend. Six years ago, she died suddenly and unexpectedly. While I don’t want to become like her in some ways, I hope I can be as strong as she was in overcoming life challenges. It was only in the end after fighting for so long that she gave up. She never learned to ask for help or to trust people who would help her with those life challenges. It has only been in the last twenty years that I have learned to trust and allow people into my life. I am blessed with family and friends, yet I struggle to ask for or accept help. I am working to step out of that rut and find a different way.

I imagine all of you closing your computer screen, walking by your bathroom and sneaking a look to be sure the toilet roll holder is full. You may even go and find some extra rolls to hide away. Just remember that is all else fails, you can always yell for help.

218062_1034694790696_1325238216_81030_4576_nClaudia Haber  October 12, 1935 -September 16, 2008

I Still Want a Donut!

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Last week I embarked on what seemed to be a rather innocuous journey, and I shared a post here about it. The challenge was to post a picture every day for 100 days of something that made you happy. I started well, but floundered around day four. In the eleven days since I accepted the challenge, I have posted only seven pictures, and truth is one of them was an old picture.

I tried to take pictures of things that made me happy, but soon came to the realization that not too many things really make me happy. Well, I meant to say things I could photograph, that is. Don’t misunderstand me; I have many things in life that make me happy, but I just couldn’t find a way to make it work in this challenge.

Of course, things like the beach, a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the color of fall leaves or spring flowers, spotting a deer in the woods, and more all bring happiness into my life. However, it is a bit of a drive to the beach or the woods, and I am often not in a place to photograph those other things on a daily basis.

Yet, what really makes me happy is sharing that experience with people in my life. I don’t have to physically share the experience, but I find such joy in sharing the story with a friend or family member. Even better is when the person with whom I choose to share the experience gets as much joy or excitement from it as I did.

I grew up as an only child in a home where talking, touching, and sharing life experiences were non-existent. I had very few friends and often felt alone. As an adult, I have come to cherish the people in my life. I sometimes share my experiences with the exuberance of a young child, bursting with excitement to tell my story. I imagine that I can be a bit overwhelming to those who know me best. However, they usually smile and say something encouraging.

I have decided that I am not going to continue with #100happydays challenge, but I am going to continue to look for things every day that bring happiness into my life. If something captures my attention, and I can take a picture, I will still share it on Instagram. Keep watching! The next picture you see may just be of a donut!

Refocusing or May I Have a Donut?

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I have been watching my friend Abby, from the infamous Abby Gabbs blog, posting pictures with the hashtag #100happydays. I wasn’t sure what it was about, but I loved the pictures. Today, Abby posted that she had completed the challenge, and I finally understood what it meant.

It is a very simply challenge- every day submit a picture of what made you happy! Post the picture to your Instagram or facebook and tag it. At first it seemed to be a rather Brady Bunch, Leave it to Beaver look at your life. Yet, the more I read, the more I realized that some days I only focus on the fear or the negative. Every day has something that brings happiness. Every day I can chose to be grateful for something.   I know this is pretty simple, and I know it won’t change the circumstances of daily living, but it might just change my attitude a bit.

The challenge says, “#100happyday challenge is for you – not for anyone else. It is not a happiness competition or a showing off contest. If you try to please / make others jealous via your pictures – you lose without even starting.

I decided to take the challenge. I won’t be posting to facebook every day, but my Instagram will be updated daily. I will post again in a couple of weeks, and let you know if my attitude has changed.  I hope I don’t have to buy too many donuts!

Off the Computer and Into the Streets?

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The past few months have been a time of questioning and feeling powerless.  It began when I read the story of 200 young girls in Nigeria who were kidnapped and held hostage.  A movement called #bringbackourgirls was started, and the internet exploded with people posting concerns, demanding action, and praying that the girls not be forgotten.  I quickly jumped on board.  I chose and committed to praying for not only all the girls, but for one young girl named Naomi.   I changed my profile picture on facebook to the logo for the movement.   I signed a petition  and tweeted about the girls.

Last week, I changed my profile picture back to my own picture.  As I did it,  sadness filled my heart knowing that we are approaching 100 days, and the girls are still being held captive.  Did all my efforts mean nothing?  Is it useless to try to effect change?   I hope not.  Yet, I wonder if it is enough.  Could I have done or do more? What would that look like?

I am thinking about the answer to questions like these as I take classes this summer.  In the first semester class, we watched  Half the Sky documentary about the lives of women and girls around the world who are abused, treated as slaves, sold as property, and mutilated.   We saw sex trafficking here in our own country, as well as around the world.   We discovered girls being denied access to education just because they are girls.  We also watched a documentary about the conditions of people  around the world living without proper sanitation or access to clean water.   We looked at poverty at home and globally.

This semester we are talking about social problems and solutions.  In one of our discussion posts, I wrote about the use of the internet and social media to effect change.  I know these movements bring issues to light and help unite people around a common cause, but are they enough?  My professor asked a difficult question, and I am trying to find an answer within myself.  She called using social media, etc.  “armchair activism”.   She asked “What do you think it might take to get people off the computer and into the streets?”.

It seems like a radical idea, doesn’t it?   Yet, isn’t that how change has taken place in our country since the beginning?  Please understand that I am not talking about violence or overthrowing the government, but I am talking about finding ways to have a voice that will make a difference.   Social media can have an impact; a study last year showed that people were more likely to vote if their friend’s post about voting.  Many people learn about politics and politicians on the internet.  Social media has been helpful in creating movements that do make a difference.

Take Molly Katchpole. She was 22, working two jobs, and struggling to make ends meet. When Bank of America announced a new $5/month banking fee, she thought it was unfair and decided to do something about it. She used Change.org to start a petition, shared the effort with her friends, and got 300,000 petition signatures, which pressured Bank of America to scrap plans to institute the fee.   http://techchange.org/2013/07/02/social-movements-and-social-media-spark-a-movement-change-the-world/

Let’s talk about voting.  Do you vote?  Do you know that America has one of the lowest percentages of voter turnout for countries that allow voting?  Among the 58% of people that did vote in the last election, how many actually took time to research and learn about those for whom they voted?    Do you know that according to the constitution the only requirements for running for the House of Representatives are being 25 years old, have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and live in the state they represent?  Of course, I understand that  you need to find backers with money, etc. in order to win.  Or do you?

I am asking questions because I want to do something.  I work in a field where I  talk with  so many people who are facing issues that are far too common in our country.   I look at statistics about our county or read stories in news, and  I hear people say, “That is so sad or so horrible. Why doesn’t someone do something?”  It reminds me of a couple of quotes that seem appropriate right now.

I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.”    Lily Tomlin

“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it.” “Well, why don’t you ask Him?” “Because I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.”   (Anonymous) -a quote from A Hole in the Gospel, by Richard Stearn, President of World Vision.

Do think it is important to do something about things going on in our world?  A student in my class said that he believed people either feel helpless or just don’t care.- Do you  feel helpless?   What do you think you can do to effect change?