Happy Birthday Son, Missing You

It’s Fall. The color’s and temperatures are changing but not my memory!

My son, my son has been removed from this place called earth and it’s his birthday today! I know most of you are busy with your own concerns this day but I have a deep memory glaring at me. It’s been almost 5 years since Marc’s been gone, joined with many others in heaven, yet he’s still so missed, loved!

It never stops, the missing doesn’t go away …. cause I can’t bear to say goodbye! I like remembering Marc, I like the memories of his personality, his views on life! The great way we could hang out together.

Marc wasn’t a selfish son interested in his own destiny, he cared deeply for others, as individuals and in the corporate sense …. I loved that about him. He modeled love to me, that makes me feel so proud and blessed. He was the most tenderhearted yet strong man I’ve ever met, along with my other son.

Just unbelievable the way five years has gone by! In this month of remembering I also have much to look forward to. There’s a legacy to finish that just has it’s own life, it’s own purpose.

Marc’s birthday is today, Sept. 30th. I don’t sit around and mope about how I’ve been dealt a bad hand in life, I can’t live in the past or think of things in those terms. I know where Marc dwells. It feels great to know that kind of thing, to be assured I’ll see him again. I’m also free from hating the people responsible for the crime. What a strong way to live!

Marc’s leaving earth like he did has turned my whole life around, others too have been affected deeply! Even one of the defendants told me it was maybe ‘fate’ that brought us together …. he too can see beyond the crime. You just can’t make up stuff like that!

Funny thing to say, I understand God’s love more than I did before Marc’s loss. Life is a lot grander than I imagined too.

Marc, you are so missed and loved! Time cannot erase our good times, your memory, Sweetheart! What a wonderful son you were!

 

 

 

Voting Tribes in America? (NYT Article)

Who’s determining the direction of our country? Have you always just let the State or National leaders do what they want? Do you think everything will work out for you cause you work hard and don’t bother anyone?

The love of country was a strong bond between Marc and I, so I’m sharing this during the ‘month of remembering’ him. This is a matter of fact, but hugely interesting breakdown on how we are constructed as an electorate in America, do you see yourself? This article leaves out the strong faith groups in the U.S., other factors, but it’s a very fair definition of who we are –


“Every few years one research group or another produces a typology of the electorate. The researchers conduct thousands of interviews and identify the different clusters American voters fall into.”

“More in Common has just completed a large such typology. It’s one of the best I’ve seen because it understands that American politics is no longer about what health care plan you support. It’s about identity, psychology, moral foundations and the dynamics of tribal resentment.

The report, “Hidden Tribes,” breaks Americans into seven groups, from left to right, with names like Traditional Liberals, Moderates, Politically Disengaged and so on. It won’t surprise you to learn that the most active groups are on the extremes — Progressive Activists on the left (8 percent of Americans) and Devoted Conservatives on the right (6 percent).

These two groups are the richest of all the groups. They are the whitest of the groups. Their members have among the highest education levels, and they report high levels of personal security.

We sometimes think of this as a populist moment. But that’s not true. My (David Brooks, author), first big takeaway from “Hidden Tribes” is that our political conflict is primarily a rich, white civil war. It’s between privileged progressives and privileged conservatives.

You could say that tribalism is the fruit of privilege. People with more stresses in their lives necessarily pay less attention to politics. People with college degrees are more likely to describe their ideology as central to their identity. They are much more likely to derive moral meaning from their label, more likely to affiliate with a herd based on their label and more likely to vote on the party line.

My second big takeaway from the report is that ideas really do drive history. Progressive Activists and Devoted Conservatives organize around coherent philosophical narratives. These narratives aren’t visions of a just society. They are narratives of menace — about who needs to be exorcised from society.

Devoted Conservatives subscribe to a Hobbesian narrative. It’s a dangerous world. Life is nasty, brutish and short. We need strict values and strong authority to keep us safe.

Ninety percent of Devoted Conservatives think immigration is bad, while 99 percent of Progressive Activists think it is good. Seventy-six percent of Devoted Conservatives think Islam is more violent than other religions; only 3 percent of Progressive Activists agree. Eighty-six percent of Devoted Conservatives think it’s more important for children to be well behaved than creative. Only 13 percent of Progressive Activists agree.

Progressive Activists, on the other hand, subscribe to a darkened Rousseauian worldview. People may be inherently good, but the hierarchical structures of society are awful. The structures of inequality and oppression have to be dismantled.

Ninety-one percent of Progressive Activists say sexual harassment is common, while only 12 percent of Devoted Conservatives agree. Ninety-two percent of Progressive Activists say people don’t take racism seriously enough, compared with 6 percent of Devoted Conservatives. Eighty-six percent of Progressive Activists say life’s outcomes are outside people’s control; only 2 percent of Devoted Conservatives agree. Progressive Activists are nearly three times as likely to say they are ashamed to be American as the average voter.

This philosophical dispute is not new. There have always been some people who thought we need hierarchical structures to keep us safe and others who thought we need to be emancipated from oppressive structures so we can be free.

What is new is how cultish this dispute has become. The researchers asked a wide variety of questions, on everything from child-rearing to national anthem protests. In many cases, 97 to 99 percent of Progressive Activists said one thing and 93 to 95 percent of Dedicated Conservatives said the opposite. There’s little evidence of individual thought, just cult conformity. The current situation really does begin to look like the religious wars that ripped through Europe after the invention of the printing press, except that our religions now wear pagan political garb.

The good news is that once you get outside these two elite groups you find a lot more independent thinking and flexibility. This is not a 50-50 nation. It only appears that way when disenchanted voters are forced to choose between the two extreme cults.

Roughly two-thirds of Americans, across four political types, fall into what the authors call “the exhausted majority.” Sixty-one percent say people they agree with need to listen and compromise more. Eighty percent say political correctness is a problem, and 82 percent say the same about hate speech.

Unfortunately, people in the exhausted majority have no narrative. They have no coherent philosophic worldview to organize their thinking and compel action. When they get one I suspect it will look totally unlike the two dominant narratives today. These narratives are threat narratives. But the people who make positive change usually focus on gifts, not deficits. They tell stories about the assets we have and how we can use them together.

I don’t know what the next political paradigm will look like, but I bet it will be based on abundance, not deficits; gifts, not fear; hope, not hatred.”

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

David Brooks has been a columnist with The Times since 2003. He is the author of “The Road to Character” and the forthcoming book “The Committed Life: When You Give Yourself Away.”

 

“Dying for Attention in Portland”, New Title

 

“DYING  FOR  ATTENTION  IN  PORTLAND”

“In this impersonal world here’s an intimate look at how relationships are the most important things we have” –

There’s no book on surviving your child! Only the deepest self reflection can give you the peace you desire or think you’ll never have again. Your ‘new normal’ is your own construct to figure out. God and others fill in those gaps when you can’t imagine the next step. And in my case, victory at certain stages of my Marc’s homicide case played a key part in bringing me hope. You cannot do it alone! You can’t wish it, or ‘will’ it. I learned I had to reach out for it. Reach out for words, prayers, hugs. No one knew what I was going thru unless I told them, outside of the original news of the crime.

Creating a new title has taken much thought as I haven’t wanted to make it sound amateurish, or like it was intended for shock value. I could create a title that was lady-like, or arty and clever’. Something super spiritual or lofty might have been fitting …. if written by someone else! The book could have a title that gushes sentiment, or wallows in despair or is full of rage at some judge or law.

But while ‘God’s in my story’ if I don’t address the normal human condition, it’s a disservice to who God is and how He’s made us with such a huge capacity to love and feel pain. He wants us to relate to the world out there, the one that people live daily. He’s made us to dig deep for meaning and relationship on a continual basis, no matter what’s going on around us. So the title has to tie in Marc’s case but share Marc’s and my concern for society at large. A murder is never about just the victim, or his family …. it’s far ranging.

There is purpose outside of our personal ‘wants’, meaning above the material life we lead daily on earth. 

We need to be engaging in the discussion of violence more often, so we stay safe and don’t live in fear. In this month where I’m having PTSD, Marc’s birthday is on 9/30, & the incident on 10/16 …. alot of memories rush back to remind me of his loss. The separation is the hardest part. That’s as it should be, a hole was created that only Marc can fill. But a whole lotta love remains! A whole lotta hope and new life has manifested from out of nowhere, after the crime, it’s seemed.

It’s still a privilege to serve Marc’s memory!

PLEASE SHARE THIS!

* Read Les Ferguson Jrs book, ‘Still Wrestling’  – It’s a stunning memoir and testimony

First Article on Morning of Marc’s Stabbing

Love makes us feel connected …. always. I don’t want to forget my son, I don’t want to lessen Marc’s importance in my life, even after he’s gone from this earth.

No one wants to lose a child so brutally. I just discovered some articles on the case that were too painful to read in the past. This was the world I had to live in 5 years ago!

Man found fatally stabbed on downtown Portland street; streets around Terry Schrunk Plaza, Chapman and Lownsdale squares closed

Several downtown streets are closed this morning while Portland police investigate a fatal stabbing in the area of Southwest 4th Avenue and Madison Street.

The victim, who police said was in his 30s or 40s, was found dead on the southeast corner of the intersection. The body lay on the sidewalk until about 7 a.m., when the Deputy Medical Examiner Damon O’Brien retrieved it.

“We think we know who he is,” O’Brien said. But his identity will not be released until next of kin is notified, O’Brien said.

Federal authorities reported the death about 2:25 a.m.

Police have closed the streets around Terry Schrunk Plaza, Chapman and Lownsdale squares. The area includes Southwest Fourth and Third avenues, between Salmon and Jefferson streets.

No traffic is allowed on Southwest Fourth Avenue between Jefferson and Salmon streets. Southwest Third Avenue, Jefferson and Salmon streets are open. So is the Multnomah County Courthouse. The building can be accessed from Fourth Avenue, as usual. Hearings, trials and other business operations will be conducted as scheduled.

Anyone who witnessed a disturbance or has information regarding this incident is asked to call the police non-emergency line at 503-823-3333.

— Noelle Crombie and Lynne Terry

Book Contract!

I was offered a book publishing contract last week, I’m very excited and sharing some details!

Trilogy accepted my book concept after only reading 3 chapters. The initial interview with them helped me feel it was the ‘right fit’ …. the company, people, reputation. Plus their marketing potential is much larger than what I could do on my own!

The books tentative title is “Dying for Attention in Portland”.

As I shared in my recent post, ‘It’s Official’ at   http://www.marcsjustice.com/?p=5255  I’m pursuing writing as a career. Being a blogger and book author has always been more than just sharing a parents worst nightmare, forgiving and forging a new road after tragedy. It’s been about being able to write about the love of country and the freedom to express oneself on various issues like Marc and I enjoyed.

If you value my life experience and opinions would you consider financially supporting my endeavors? My book and blog?

I’ve been observing how other independent journalists/writers use crowd funding to support their efforts, and feel the world wide usage of this method warrants a try. Being an independent writer, and not writing for a news source or magazine, limits my production & outreach.

Some of you have stated your interest in contributing to my writing. Your donating to my efforts would be so appreciated! Right now you can support thru Paypal or Patreon which are easy to set up if you don’t already have an account. There are options on Patreon like …. a one time gift, or an ongoing monthly donation of $2.00 or more. You control it, plus you get perks!

Your rewards are:  membership to my weekly emails, special member only material, previews of book chapters and being on the advance reader team before my book is published …. depending on your gift.

What does it mean to you to have a ‘sane’ voice out there? How much do you appreciate someone talking about overcoming obstacles, staying strong in the midst of the impersonal way our culture is headed? How would you feel if my timely posts stopped? We need ‘independent’ voices out there, voices that no one can buy!

We have a wonderful history in the United States of financially helping our neighbor, supporting local business. As a person of faith, I’ve been part of numerous donations and ongoing tithes towards ministries or individuals! Every little bit helps, nothing is too small!

               http://Paypal.me/ddehan           http://patreon.com/ddehan

Prayerfully consider if you belong on this journey with me! Blessings!

 

On Mass Murders …. From my Pastor

Many are asking questions re: the 3 recent mass shootings in a row. People want to have answers to our epidemic, they want clarity not confusing rationale based on guns or politics! 

Murder is not new, but mass murder is a relatively recent phenomena. The cities of Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton are reeling at this time. They need our prayers. Oh, how I know about the shock and sadness after murder! Your life is turned upside down! And in many cases you go thru these feelings in front of not just your family and friends but members of your community! How awkward and strange it feels to have that spotlight on you.

The following is an article written by my former pastor, Dana Hanson. He gets to the core of the mindset and heart condition of a mass murderer. Thank you, P.D.!

With the recent mass murders in our nation, there are reactions that include this one expressed in a LA Times headline, “Two Massacres and No Answers”. As an absolute statement this headline is accurate. Each mass murderer is a unique human being who has choices as to how they to live their lives. We don’t know why people specifically choose to act as they do. We don’t have definitive answers. But we do know there are insights into these murderers, even some commonalities

The most obvious way a murderer will give us insight into what they did is by letting them tell us. They may leave a suicide note/ confession/ manifesto/social media evidence/ etc. This is certainly an insight toward “answers”.

Other than what the murderer’s say themselves, there are also key insights toward “answers” from a spiritual and psychological dimension. From Sandy Hook to Columbine to the most recent cases, there are commonalities.

Spiritually, these murderers chose to not want God in their lives. None of them were committed followers of the ways of Jesus. Obviously, “love your neighbor” and “love your enemy” are not part of their experience.

Nihilism is the worldview of many of these murderers. Rejecting there is any meaning to life. Rejecting any religious or moral principles, except one. In many of these mass murders, the perpetrator has become a god unto themselves.  Most often these murderers exhibit the “unholy” trinity of behaviors Jesus and the Bible most often speak against. These three responses to life provide the recipe for pure evil: Arrogance, deceit, and resentment.

Arrogance – You are the god of your own universe.

Deceit – You tell yourself lies, deceiving yourself into thinking that you are the only one who is right. You live this deceit with those around you.

Resentment – Your conscious anger toward the world, perhaps your subconscious anger toward yourself, where all of this anger builds up into pure resentment and eventually contempt. Contempt is where you don’t consider other people as worthy of existence.

Psychologically, once again the unhealthy trinity of arrogance (“narcissism”) deception, and resentment. The best psychological insight I have received on this topic is from clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson. In his book, Twelve Rules for Life: An Antidote For Chaos Peterson speaks about the “why?” when it comes to the despicable behavior of mass murderers in his Rule #6, “Set you house in perfect order before you criticize the world.”

Rather than summarizing his insights, you can listen for yourself. I am including this recording of Peterson reading this chapter. Also, there is this interview clip, where Peterson gives a brief review.

Recent Democratic Debates

Here’s my rundown of the recent debates in case you didn’t catch any of them.  Even tho I’m conservative I’m open to suggestions from moderate or liberal Democrats if they have the courage to think on their own and come up with pragmatic visions for uniting us as a country, keeping us safe, free and solvent. Here’s some observations …..

  1.     In retrospect, the recent debates seemed geared to a discussion between the candidates and the media, the questions didn’t reflect much of what the average citizen or working person is concerned about.
  2.     I like to know the person I’m supposed to vote for.  Why aren’t candidates being asked about their backgrounds, dreams and core beliefs? Relatable personal facts that let us know they’re like us.
  3.     What happened to the good ol’ Dem visionaries who dreamed up Peace Corp, etc? Where are the creative solutions for the people suffering in chaos across our southern border?
  4.    I’m looking for a leader who thinks for him or herself and isn’t trying to gain points with the media on the latest hot issue.
  5.    So many questions catered to people’s ego, centered on things we’ve already heard or read about in their bios.
  6.    I’m looking for candidates who understand the needs of the average wage earner, family person! It’s great to feel for people on the fringe but where are the plans for the jobs, safety & peace for the average law abiding citizen, all people?
  7.     Every true human is unhappy about border issues, but there’s a range of issues that have to be addressed in that crises. I want to hear some clear cut plans for the future given the people groups across the globe immigrating or sneaking across our borders.
  8.     We all know an impassioned woman carries some weight with her arguments, but some of the female debaters went way into another destructive realm. A constantly strident, angry woman won’t be appealing to the public.
  9.     I’d like to know what defining moment(s) shaped their life, character. I don’t want to know what offends them all the time! I’m looking for tolerant, fair-minded leaders who see the good in many people no matter what the color, beliefs.
  10.     I’d like to know if their lifestyle is sane, do they ‘walk the walk’, is it their habit to ‘do for others’ less fortunate?
  11.     I want a leader who’s willing to seek common goals across the aisle. Is there a candidate who’s open to mediating, building trust with the other side?
  12.     I don’t want a leader to think they’re running for President to seek ‘revenge’, bad sign!
  13.    I’d like to know who their heroes are …. not favorite movie characters! Was a family member a true mentor? Do they have a hero of faith or from history?
  14.    I’d like to know how they unwind, if they have a ‘life’, do they ever laugh? Or are they all ‘politics’ and no fun?
  15.    I’d like to know …. what books a candidate’s read recently? What new sources? Do they value good literature, historical periods, are they interested in developing character or raising money?
  16.    I’m looking for someone who can build ‘hope’ for all Americans. Someone who believes in ALL of us, not just a few ‘oppressed’ people.
  17.    I don’t want a candidate who thinks the office of President is where race problems will be corrected, incomes equalized. Don’t want a guy or gal who forgets that individuals are responsible for their outcomes.
  18.    I especially don’t want a President who wants our nation to become socialistic! I don’t want a Green New Deal, a Yellow Ribbon or the Red Door. I want to keep capitalism.
  19.    It’s important to me for a President to be a bona-fide American in their soul, and profess love for all the people who died for him (her).
  20.    I’d like a Democratic President to abhor violence, be absolutely against anti-Jew, anti-white & anti-male sentiments.
  21.    I want my President to look at the big picture and understand we are at a crossroads in Western civilization morally, financially, culturally.
  22.    I want a candidate to show compassion not just for immigrants but for the unborn, vets, the suicide prone and drug epidemics that are devastating our families, communities!
  23.    I want a candidate to see that violence is not just a teen issue but an adult one too. There’s gang violence, immigrant violence, human trafficking, Alt Left and Right violence.
  24.    I don’t want a President to give away money to people who have no ties to the U.S. and then neglect our homeless, vets, mentally ill, elderly, disabled, etc.
  25.    What is a Democrat now, what is their platform? The recent candidates spout socialistic values which will demoralize and bankrupt us even further.
  26.   I want a President who understands the huge threats we have here with censorship, free speech denied to peaceful people wanting to share their views!
  27. I want a Pres. to see how large some social media is getting, and how it needs to be used responsibly. Any large entity, even in govt, that’s too huge will monopolize free speech, free enterprise, freedom to live or move, and worship.
  28.    I want a leader who’s not ashamed to show his decent side, not fearful of the other ego seeking candidates.
  29.    I want a candidate who’ll choose a Vice Presidential running mate who’s not just a ‘yes-man’, but a person of integrity and values.
  30.    There’s more that can be done to bring our country together, but everyone needs to pull together. No entity on it’s own can decide our future, outside of God.

Summary:

Winner:  I think the winner was the American people. We got to see for ourselves who’s opposing Pres. Trump. The candidates are helping us and Mr. Trump make up our minds early on.

Runner-Up: The media was close, almost tied. They’ve done their best to hoodwink everyone, even the candidates, into their system of operating politics. They are trying to ruin creativeness, spontaneity and character in America, and it’s almost working! (If any candidate so much as suggests a solid vision they spread it all over so that it’s either taken up by other candidates, smeared as wrong or they say it’s been tried before and didn’t work.) 

I’m Moving but Staying

How are your summer plans working out?

I’m moving! I don’t know how you feel about having big intrusions in your life but moving was not on my list of things ‘To Do’!

What’s your approach to your ‘belongings’? I didn’t think it would be helpful for me to just box things up without clearing out the useless stuff from many years …. but, which items are ‘outdated, useless’? One thing that’s driven me is the fear of identifying as one of those who clings to things in their garage or stores them in units, never to meet again.

I really like some of my ‘things’. Besides family photos, I love my decor, my art on the walls, my books and cooking ware. ‘Things’ give us a sense of identity and rootedness, we need a certain amount of stuff. But, living for them or living in the past scares me. I prefer to deal with the good and bad back there, and move on. I’ve gone thru so much in the last few years, I see the promise of a good future and try to live fully in the present! I can’t let a murder or any memory steal that from me like I used to think it would.

Do you like change? It’s very hard for me, especially while I’m writing a book. It’s also hard when you’re still aware you’re going thru a tragedy. A move doesn’t take away anything associated with the crime, what happened still happened, at least I’m not into ‘escaping’ pain like some people try to do thru moving.

But  ….. the timing is right. There’s other things in my future. It’s actually been exhilarating to let go but also am feeling resentment cause I hate coughing all night after sifting thru & packing dusty stacks of books. I’m not used to being sore from lifting and sorting boxes of memories. Icing the painful muscles helps.

The toughest part is making myself get past the kicking and screaming to sift thru the rest of Marc’s personal items! It’s forcing me to think back to the crime, his loss. It’s still hard to believe what happened! It’s like some terrible nightmare, a dream that I dreamed that will go away in time! But it won’t, and that’s okay. Sometimes the terror comes back and sits at my throat and chokes my breath. It’s associated with just the terror of death itself. The devil wants to keep scaring us.

If I’m ever buried in the ground, I want to be buried with both my sons school work, not my jewelry or photos. I learned thru their daily exercises just who my children truly were. What they thought about themselves, life, others. Last nite I read some of Marc’s notes from Oregon Culinary Institute (OCI), where he studied to be a chef. I just couldn’t do it for long, too painful.

We all move for different reasons. This move reminds me that I’m not a victim anymore. It would scare me to stop my journey. As I’ve gone over photos, mementos from the past I’ve really surprised at how I’ve grown past some memories. I’m past certain dreams of my family or aspirations our culture placed on me. Those attachments are gone, the lasting hopes have won! I’ve come full circle and looked at what I tried to be as a youth and later, and some has been fulfilled and some were a darn waste. I’m blessed to be able to do this clearing out, like starting over.

Many people have used the mantra ‘keep it simple stupid’, it helps a lot to think like that. Saying goodbye is okay. I have to let this whole journey take me where I don’t necessarily know what will happen. I can’t allow myself to miss the boat, stay in the past or in grief. I need to ‘stay in love with Marc’, build with others. Use my time to continue to share about the case in a new way, write about our cultural issues.

Moving is never a great experience itself but it’s the new life you anticipate that sees you thru! I know Marc is smiling from heaven!

 

‘Tribes of the Lonely’

Does it ever occur to you there’s more to life and you’re being left behind? Do you wake with fears you’ll never find the love and freedom you always dreamed of? That’s your emotions calling to you.

Blogger, D De Han

Our emotions can trick us if we ignore them! Many in this age are foregoing their need for emotional fulfillment like money or the mind are all that’s important. After my son left this earth, I had to fight tremendous fears, anxiety. Every parent goes thru trauma when their child is deeply threatened or lost. There’s an emotional attachment that’s very intimate. No outside Twitter feed or Facebook friends can give you the deep sense of belonging like having family members whom you’re deeply linked to. And losing them can be a threat to your life, if you don’t fill the void right.

The following article by Ms. King speaks to our hearts AND our culture! This is her personal story but she has aptly cross referenced our personal lack of intimacy to our national loneliness and the troubles that come with it. As Senator Sasse says, our nation has become ‘tribes of the lonely’, because we have a deep yearning to belong to others who fill our need for intimacy and purpose and online groups will never fulfill that void correctly! 

Wherever you are in life I think this will resonate!

by Gennifer King

Have you ever had one of those big realization moments where certain things just suddenly make so much sense? Have you ever had one of those moments come spewing out of your mouth in a conversation before you’ve even had the revelation yourself? I had one of those moments on Sunday, and it’s really been bothering me.

d

It’s very common for people to feel blue after coming back from a mission trip; however, I hate having emotions that I cannot fully describe or find the root cause to. These emotions tend to run around my head and wreak havoc until I am in a dreadful state of mental un-health. So feeling blue the past two weeks has really ticked me off, because I haven’t been able to say for sure WHY. In a conversation on Sunday the answer came leaping out of my mouth and I nearly wept with equal measures of relief and grief.

Genn w/baby

I must confess that have been reluctant to talk about my experiences in Uganda, even avoiding people or social events to not have to discuss it with people. Not because I don’t want to share, but because I have not fully processed everything that happened, how I feel about it, and what the most important things are to share. There are many stories from the trip, and each brings hope, joy and a call to action; but, there is a message that I want to share. This message isn’t about miracles or amazing things I have never seen or how our little group impacted those around us. This message is about how those around us impacted me; because it is an impact that I think needs to happen for most Americans.

VOH team

It was hard for me to come back to America, there are many reasons that I would have loved to stay in Uganda. There is one very selfish reason. For 16 solid days I felt free to be myself without fear of judgement or not fitting in with the group, and for 16 solid days I never felt lonely. Mostly cut off from communication, safe for a short time every evening and morning when wifi was available, and with people I have known for less than a year, in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language,  but I have never felt so included, seen, appreciated, accepted, cared for, and un-lonely. Why do I feel so alone here?

Psychology Today says “To be happy, we need intimate bonds; we need to be able to confide, we need to feel like we belong, we need to be able to get and give support. In fact, strong relationships are key — perhaps the key — to a happy life.” The key words to take note of here are “intimate bonds”. In this fast-paced society of social media and busy schedules, we know many people, but how many intimate bonds do we really have?

OTW friends

Do you want to know the most amazing thing I saw in Uganda? People making a conscious effort to engage with one another. Friends walking hand in hand in a gesture that says, “I am with you, right now, fully present and engaged in our conversation. YOU are my priority, and I will hold your hand so you know it.” Teen boys walking hand in hand as an act of friendship and attention. Grown men holding hands out of respect for their friend. Here we simply say “hello, how are you?” out of social norms and often without thought. There, a salutation is an opportunity for connection.

Since coming back, loneliness is the feeling that has been making me blue. I miss sharing every meal with those 4 strangers who are now my family, and openly discussing our struggles, our joys, the lessons we’ve learned, and checking in on one another’s health. I miss the way that people greeted each other that made me feel like I was the only thing that mattered in that moment. I am not afraid of being alone, and sometimes I need it; but loneliness… loneliness is an empty black pit.

Loneliness is sharing a house with a friend, but occupying different rooms. Loneliness is walking away from a conversation not feeling heard, or worse, not respected enough to be authentic. Loneliness is the thing that drives me to seek comfort in the blue and white platform of Facebook; because, a like and a comment is better than nothing.

lonely

Loneliness is the thing that keeps me awake at night; and fills my head with nightmares of unhealthy relationships past. Because, at least in those relationships, there was someone there. Loneliness is my gateway to depression and all of the unhealthy coping skills I pick up along the way.

I don’t share this to gain sympathy, or to wallow in self-pity. I share this because more than 22% of Americans suffer from loneliness. Think of 10 people you know… most likely, 2 of them feel lonely a significant amount of the time. There is a misconception that activity and inclusion are the tools to fighting loneliness. The only answer to the loneliness questions is RELATIONSHIP. Taking the time to hear someone, rather than listening for your chance to respond or tell your story. Making the conscious effort to remember someone’s name and your last conversation, or that one thing they were excited about that one time. Knowing the line between inclusion and disrespecting someone else’s boundaries, values, and personality. Placing your cellphone in your pocket when you are engaging with someone; and letting the wretched thing go to voicemail. Sending a text or leaving a voicemail for someone when you are thinking about them; or sending them flowers if appropriate. Making time for those intimate conversations over a meal, a cup of coffee, or a hiking trail.

relationship

I challenge you to think about what it means to have an intimate connection with someone (not physical) and make a conscious effort to cultivate that with 5 new people.

I firmly believe that we were created to be in intimate relationship with God and with other people.

I want to live like I believe it.

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Gennifer can be found on Facebook –

 

Portland, Free Speech & Antifa

I can’t say enough about the grassroots people on my Twitter feed!  People from all walks, ages, races share on current issues that are baffling, worrisome or silly!

Last couple days lot of tweets on how antifa in Portland, OR attacked journalist Andy Ngo! Two other men across the street from Mr. Ngo were seriously attacked as well and taken to the hospital. Andy received various cuts, bruises and has perhaps a ‘brain bleed’. Supposedly antifa threw ‘milkshakes’ which we’re told by police probably had quik dry cement in them. The outcry over how antifa is allowed to attack people, disrupt traffic, vandalize in the city of Portland just rose to another huge level.

I’ve been following Andy for some months mainly because he’s for free speech as I am. I have mixed feelings about how he promotes himself. I wouldn’t go around defining myself by my sexual orientation like he does. I wouldn’t trash talk Portland streets either. Other stuff.

But I like how he defends free speech in this era where mainstream media has tried to dominate what we see or hear, and block conservative viewpoints! He’s so great about reporting on the cruelties in the Muslim faith around the world. I love how he’s sharing about the rise in hate talk, anti-Jewish, anit-gay sentiment around the world as well as in the U.S. He’s giving voice to many on Twitter, elsewhere who’re angry or upset about these very dangerous trends.

Andy chooses to walk quietly among antifa protesters, in Portland as well as Seattle, not saying a word, but filming here and there … and he’s often confronted verbally and had stuff thrown at him. Recently he was attacked at his gym, and has received death threats that he exposes in tweets. He’s the only independent journalist doing this that I know of.

Protests at nite in front of PDX City Hall –

I’ve visited PDX often since Marc’s homicide and stay downtown 1-2+ blocks from the heart of many of the protests. It’s restricting at times of course when the protests go on while I visit. Normally nights are peaceful but I’ve been woken at times by bull horns blaring and people shouting slogans.

This is Mayor Wheeler’s first term and he inherited the BLM, Resist PDX and now antifa movements. What a heritage! I was glad he set up a more secure system for holding City Council Mtgs. He and former Mayor Hales had been confronted by menacing, rowdy & destructive people trying to disturb or run city politics during the Council Meetings. So, strides have been taken to bring peace to the running of the Council Mtgs.

But antifa has been a thorn in his side, partly for the way the city is built, with how the streets and bridges all converge on the downtown area …. the part of Portland that holds the most attraction for retail, legal offices, hotels and visitors attractions. And partly due to the fact Wheeler is offended with a couple of Trumps ICE directives, etc.

Anyway, antifa is mostly youths from maybe 18 -20’s. They are not thoughtful, idealistic college kids with any positive plan. From what I’ve read in the past, most aren’t registered voters so they don’t participate in the political process as peaceful adults. Antifa’s moniker approves of violence. I watched Chuck Todd interview Mark Bray, the author of the “Antifa Handbook“, the definitive book on antifa last year. He chronicles the establishment of antifa and I heard him flatly state ‘violence is necessary‘. This group is also nationwide and so who knows who is funding them? But you can follow some of the resistance kids online.

If we say we believe in free speech, it has to go along with honest reporting, peaceful demonstration! Tolerance of others views. Antifa likes to bother Joey Gibson’s Patriots Prayer group when they hold rallies in downtown PDX, but their main objective is to instill fear by causing violence to people and property in cities they think need a lesson. They hate Trump, hate fascists. There’s no political, social or religious platform of good towards humanity coming out of them or we’d try to understand them. That’s where I think Wheeler errs in his heart towards them!

Portland is a beautiful city and I don’t want to feed into all the negativism. But there needs to be a definitive answer to the protests! I really wish Mr. Wheeler would stop and recognize who his voting and peaceful constituents are, who he’s responsible to, what the future will be like if antifa violence is allowed to continue? The driver who ran over people in Charlottesville was caught and sentenced …. antifa who cause violence on people and property in Portland should be caught and sentenced as well.

Mr. Wheeler is hurting citizens, visitors and the whole image of his city by allowing the antifa violence –