Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: issues (page 1 of 3)

Finding Safety in Fault

Just a few nights ago, I began reading a new book – A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy. Most notable: the author’s name: Sue Klebold. The mother of Dylan Klebold, of the 1999 Columbine tragedy. It’s challenging my idea that parents can be at fault for the actions of their children.

In the introduction, a journalist who met the Klebolds writes that one of two reasons we blame parents for the crimes of their children is, “because in supposing that, we reassure ourselves that in our own house, where we are not doing such wrong things, we do not risk this calamity.” He continues on, “I didn’t want to like the Klebolds, because the cost of liking them would be an acknowledgment that what happened wasn’t their fault, and if it wasn’t their fault, none of us is safe.” (Emphasis mine.)

Thankfully, because I keep a pretty compassionate FB friend group who are speaking avidly about considering the feelings of the poor mother who’s toddler escaped into the gorilla’s habitat, I’m hearing more of this spoken – even if we don’t all realize the underlying truth. If we can find cause and point blame, we mistakenly begin to believe that we’ll never run such risk.

It’s the same idea behind the study which recently found that people who considered themselves not a target for advertising were significantly more susceptible to buying from an advertisement. There’s folly in believing you will never be a victim.

Of course, living fearfully that everything will happen to you is it’s own brand of magical thinking. Both approaches to the world are convincing you that you’re someone special. As if who you are is an indicator of how life will treat you.  The temptation is to believe everything terrible will happen to you, or nothing terrible will.  The truth is, some of it could. And those are the only guarantees we get.

Blaming others, finding the reason, reducing complex situations down to simple solutions won’t save you from tragedy. Perhaps learning from tragedy will save us from history repeating itself, which is its own gift, and one we can turn to for comfort. Finding someone to take the fall will rarely insure our own safety, though it often feels like it can.

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Hitchhikers, the News and Normal

When JJ and I were expecting the last baby, we were to deliver at a hospital downtown Dayton, where JJ had not previously visited. I requested a practice route, in fear I might be a tad busy laboring to give directions when the time came. So we drove to the hospital, up the ramp where I pointed to the parking garage, and back down again, headed to Thai 9. Just a typical date night for pregnant people, yes?

While at the stoplight, a gentlemen knocked on our window and explained he had just been released but no one was available to pick him up from the hospital. He had been treated for internal bleeding and didn’t feel he had the strength to walk the 3 blocks home and asked for a ride.

We, the small town people, did not know what to do. We looked at each other with eyebrows raised and came to a consensus of “Ummm….” Finally, in an effort to ensure safety, JJ asked the guy to show him he had nothing in his pockets and invited him to get in the back seat. JJ pointed out how extremely pregnant I was, and drove him the 3 blocks.

Later, we discussed this course of action. It was my first hitchhiking adventure and JJ’s first, if not ever, than at least with impregnated wife in tow. Did we feel safe? Should we have done it? What could have happened?

I explained that, for the most part, I felt fine with it. First, because we were driving the Pilot, which had withstood a mighty hailstorm, yet wasn’t valuable enough for the insurance company to fix, so we drive it around looking like a golfball. Clearly the dude was not going for a hijacking.

Next, I brought up the fact that the only hitchhiking stories we ever hear about tend to be the ones which go wrong.  Hundreds and thousands of people offer rides to strangers every day and it never makes the nightly news. Why? Because it’s not newsworthy. Nothing happened. Two (or more) people rode in the same car and they happened to not know each other prior to the car ride. How does that change people’s lives? It doesn’t. You can’t put an exclamation point on that story.

Fear grabs hold of us when we believe headlines are the only indication of our reality. The news is not a gauge of our normal lives, it’s a reflection of the abnormal things that happen in a given period of time. News is the exception to the rule. No one wrote a press release when your car started this morning. You didn’t update your status when the shower was warm or that you ate a bowl of your favorite cereal.

There’s a real danger in living by the fear established through a highlight reel – not in the dangers it describes, but in the kind of life it will lead us toward. You become addicted to playing out what could happen, and we live in a world with endless possibilities. That internal game can suffocate you if you’re not careful.

There’s a healthy place for fear, as Inside Out described. But don’t let it drive the bus. Don’t believe it’s the only way to see things. You can exercise common sense without making everyone the enemy.

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Tell Me About Those Balls (#redcup version)

In honor of RedCupGate 2015, I’ll offer an oldie-but-goodie, (and one of my cousin’s favorite blog titles). Obvi, since the whole #redcup thing revolves around noisy Christians, there could be even more commentary. Like, how first we want businesses to have the right  to refuse to make wedding cakes for people we don’t love because of “values” – yet we want businesses we don’t own to uphold all of our values. (Thanks to my Smart Friend Craig who pointed that one out. He is really smart. And sarcastic. Pretty much my favorite kind of people. Read his brilliant writing about an unrelated topic.)

However, just in case any of my friends have panties all bunched up over this – if you really want someone to know how you feel… stop giving them money. (I, however, will not say no to the PSL. Jesus is in my heart, not on my cup.)


 

(Originally published September, 2011)

It’s quite evident that I love a good boycott. Give me a cause (Walmart… short skirts… chips in the ice cream… Times New Roman…) and a platform and I shall wave my banner high. However, I’d like to give my fellow boycotters a few lessons in Banning Behavior.

Apparently there are close to a million moms (or, at least an organization of them) who dislike Ben & Jerry’s new flavor. That’s fine, I tend to show preference to Chubby Hubby (who can resist pretzels + peanut butter + fudge?! Such salty/sweet goodness). However, a letter-writing campaign has ensued, trying to force the flavor off the market, taking away the right of the consumer to purchase a batch of Schweddy Balls as s/he would like.

So, my Million friends that are Moms, I say: It’s fine to dislike a product. Put your money where your mouth is and DON’T BUY IT. Purchase Breyers. Or Edy’s. Or give Columbus Cincinnati a little love and go for Graeter’s. If you don’t want to explain to little Frank why the balls are Schweddy, then don’t point them out to your kiddos. Surely you’re not narrating the entire aisle of ice creams and frozen food novelties?

And while we’re this close to the topic, a word on marketing to children… because I read again about the perils of McDonalds and cereals and every other red dye #5-filled food on the market and the regulations regarding such propaganda: it wouldn’t work if parents would simply say NO. Again, don’t buy it. If they don’t have profits, they can’t make the expensive flashy commercials that have your kids whining about the unfairness of life, why they’re so deprived and how you’re the worst mother ever.

Folks, sometimes there’s power in the pen, but always there’s power in the pocketbook.

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