Monday, April 17, 2017

Helping People Die in Arkansas

I'm not an expert on the death penalty, but have learned a lot in the last few weeks, as I have researched and read.  I am definitely AGAINST the death penalty for multiple reasons, which I won't outline here.  I know the major pro-DP argument is closure for the victims' families.  But I have now heard victim's family members speak and write and say it has done/will do nothing for their loss to see another death (do two wrongs make a right?).  What they need is support at the time of their family member's death - counseling in particular and things Arkansas and most states do not provide. I have not lost a loved one (family or friend) to violent crime and I might feel differently if I had, but I would hope not.  I believe it is so easy to sit back and judge "the other" who is not like us.  Yet, we might not be like "us" if we didn't have loving families, good teachers, educational opportunities, good mental health, etc.  Please do not discount this - you and I are who and where we are primarily because of the families and communities we were born into and the love and support we have received all or most of our lives.

I feel so strongly about this- even more so today as I was holding babies in the NICU at Arkansas Children's Hospital, I thought about those precious little babies someday possibly being on Death Row.   Is it possible?  Yes.  Is it probable?  Who knows?  I don't know what their support networks (families, friends, teachers, etc.) will be, where they will land in the economic strata (homeless, hungry or privileged to never be either of these) or how their brains will function as adults.  But I know everyone on death row was once an innocent baby who may have had very little opportunity to be loved, educated, and supported in any way close to the way I was.


I know many of you and many who are Christian support the death penalty - I have seen "eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth" quoted ad nauseam on social media in the past few weeks.  Well, if God is going to judge, that may be fine, but human juries and judges?  I don't think so.  Plus the Jesus I follow said this (and I even used the King James version - not my favorite, but some people might think other versions are not godly - nothing surprises me anymore):


Matthew 5:38-48  King James Version (KJV)

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.....
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

I am nowhere close to perfect, but supporting the killing of people would not help that any.  I need all the help I can get to love my neighbor and my enemy.  Condoning the killing of people, even confessed criminals, does not help me with this.


I needed to write this tonight as Arkansas rushes to try and execute eight people in the next 10 days (two of which apparently have stays from the state supreme court).  As of this writing, the 8th circuit overturned the district federal court stay and our state is pushing like crazy to get this done.  One prisoner is reported to have had his last meal.  This rush is all supposedly due to a drug that is expiring at the end of the month.  A drug which we've had, but we also needed vecuronium bromide - another lethal injection drug. A medical supply company said it was misled by the state and that the drug was sold for medical purposes, not executions.  This smacks of unethical behavior by our attorney general and governor.  Not that I think the firing squad or public hanging options, which many Arkansans apparently support, are any better.

I am sad and disillusioned and not sure how I can make any difference.  I can go to rallies, write/call the governor and others, pray and write this blog.  But nothing may have an impact on the lives of these eight men, at least four of who appear to suffer from extreme mental illness.  


So probably not many people will read this and some who do may spew judgment and criticism at me and some will support.  I'm not writing this to be loved - I'm writing it because my heart is hurting and I had to do something besides what I have.  I'm not sure what is about to happen in this state, but I am sad we are even considering.  I hope if you support these multiple executions and the death penalty that you feel truly good about yourself and your beliefs when (and if) the executions occur.


So be it.... Amen.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Connect/ Communicate or Judge/Hate - which is Loving my Neighbor?


Well, maybe, but not always.  I do meet a lot of people and I almost always like them.  You know when you meet someone and they're nice and considerate and you have no idea who they're voting for or how they feel about social or political issues?  I almost always like people then.  Of course, I love most all dogs I meet as well :).

In thinking about the people I meet in real life - you know outside the social media, internet, blogging world.  It's rare that I don't immediately like someone unless they say something hateful on first glance, but I don't think that has ever happened (well, maybe once!).  However in the internet world, sometimes all I know of someone is that they hate a political figure I like or they are on the opposite of an issue I feel strongly about and so it is easy to quickly make up my mind not to like them.  

I had a neighbor campaigning for Justice of the Peace stop by to solicit my vote.  After reading her material, I'm thinking we might not be on the same page in many ways... but at the door, I had a foster puppy in my arms and told her I fostered puppies.  She thanked me for that and said they had rescue dogs and we got into the spay/neuter law / puppy mill legislation discussion and found out we ARE on the same page there. So I don't know if I'll vote for her, but from what I know of her I so far, I definitely like her!

I am definitely not anti-Facebook or social media.  I still appreciate how much Caringbridge and Facebook helped us connect with everyone, as well as feel the love while Randy was ill.  And I'm really not sure how we'd communicate so well in the dog rescue world without Facebook.  So, I'm generally pro-anything that helps communication/connection.  However.....  the "let me throw up my opinion because yours is wrong and you're a bad person" communication does not do anything to make me love someone, even though I'm trying - I consciously am.  And I think most of us are!  

I'm vowing to not judge someone by one comment on a news issue or political post or whatever.  I'm vowing to say a little prayer for them and what they're facing in their life that I have no idea about.  And I'm definitely vowing to #lovemyneighbor wherever they are and whoever they're voting for!








Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Memories + Dreams = Reality?

It's 9 a.m. and I am still out of sorts a bit.  I work up about 6:00 and remembered my dream, although it had seemed so real it didn't feel like a dream.  In the "dream," I had awakened and felt Ellie Rose next to me (where she always is), so I smoothed her fur and then thought, where is Randy?  So, I sat up a bit and saw him lying on the other side of her.  He was in an old favorite t-shirt, shorts and moccasins, lying on top of the covers, sleeping peacefully.  I remember thinking "why does he have his clothes and shoes on?" but felt comforted by his presence and went back to "sleep".

So even though I've been awake for three hours, I can't shake the realness of the dream.  Randy left this earth on August 11, 2009 and was in the hospital most of the three weeks before that, so he hasn't slept in our bed in more than seven years.  He never knew Ellie Rose (and vice versa) and neither Sophie nor Lucy slept in the bed with us (he always laughed, saying when he was out of town, he knew they slept with me!).  But this morning, I'm having a hard time convincing myself of that.

The mind works in mysterious ways, that's for sure.  I assume it's me thinking about his last few weeks on earth, which I do often, but especially when August comes.  I am thankful for 25+ years of sharing life with him and for memories of all the fun we had and all I learned from him and how he inspired me.  I'm even thankful, in an odd sort of way, for the last few weeks of his life - at least I had time with him that many people don't get when someone dies suddenly.

I've had similar dreams before - similar in that Randy was here in my life now, being healthy and funny and, well, just himself.  I may be temporarily disconcerted by these dreams, as they throw my real world into question - what is real and what's not?  But after a few more hours, the dream will just be a memory and I will know that and be grateful for his "appearance" in my life.



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Being Kind - in Life and in Death

It's been a while since I wrote anything for public consumption, but was inspired this week.  I went to a funeral at church (St. James UMC) for my dentist - Dr. George Gillian - who died suddenly about a week ago at age 80.  He was still practicing dentistry and I think we all expected him to be there for several more years, as he was generally in good health.

It was a lovely service and as I sat near the front of the church, I was reminded of Randy's service in that same place almost seven years ago (in August 2009).  I thought about all the funerals and memorial services I have been to since, as well as before.  Sometimes I've gone because I loved the person who left this earth and sometimes because I loved the people they left behind (Julie Font and I learned this at a young age from our parents), or both. Most were special in their own way and honored the life of someone who mattered in this world - younger, older, churchgoer, life-liver, etc. (I say most, because sometimes the pastor felt compelled to preach hell fire and brimstone - those make me uncomfortable and I don't think they aren't inspiring to many of us).

I attended a memorial service for Ben Fry a few weeks ago - Pastor Greg Schick who did Randy's service, also did Ben's.  I was upset after (not really) as I told Greg that until that time, Randy's had been the coolest service he had done and/or I had attended.  But Ben, who was station manager at KUAR/KLRE had some audio/video footage from church events that was replayed, plus an incredible daughter who spoke and did him right!  I don't think Randy is too upset about it  - he and Ben are probably joshing around in heaven about who had the coolest service, or maybe who is the coolest, in general.  Randy is the person who introduced me to public radio, so I don't think he will give Ben too bad a time!

Attending several services in the last few months has made me contemplative about death and how often we wait until someone passes from this earth to honor them and express our love and appreciation for their impact on our lives.  I wish it were more in our culture to love our neighbor and tell them so!  This is one place where social media rocks as it actually encourages this - I see a lot of those kind of posts.  Of course I also see the opposite, although those are usually from people who don't know the individual, but just need to get all uppity about a thought, belief or idea, especially because they're hiding behind a keyboard of some size.  Yet, aside from social media, I am trying to think about how I can do a better job of life- honoring during life instead of just afterward.  Don't get me wrong - I understand well that honoring someone after their death is very comforting for their family and friends and it needs to happen (so yes, you should go to the service and/or send a card, do whatever you can or more than you think you can).  But if we all worked a bit harder to show our love and appreciation while we are still breathing, it seems like there'd be much more an era of good feelings abounding in this world which might result in all of us doing a better job at loving our neighbor.

So, I am pledging to do just that.  It may be like a random act of kindness - if you appreciate and love on someone, they'll be more likely to pass that along to another person and before long you have a plethora of folks who are smiling and feeling like their lives matter.  We know deep down that we all matter, at least to those closest to us, but I can think of a long list of folks who have made a difference in my life and who I wouldn't want to have lived without knowing.  If you're reading this, you're probably one of them!

And because there's a direct connection, I'm going to name a name.  Shortly after Randy's service, I ended up at Dr. Gillian's for a routine dental checkup and teeth cleaning.  Shirley, who sits at the front desk and generally runs the office, told me that she had gone to get her hair cut on the day of Randy's service.  She said someone named Mark had brought a bottle of champagne in to the salon, saying that he wanted to honor the life of his friend Randy Moore.  I can't remember how Shirley made the connection between Mark Kennedy and Randy Moore and me, but she did.  Otherwise, I would probably have never known what a kind thing Mark did and I would have so hated to miss it, because it made me very happy. I'm pretty sure I've told him that, but because it came to mind again, Mark Kennedy - thank you again for your kindness in honoring the love of my life!  I love you!

There...  it may not be the normal way we go around talking to each other, but it feels pretty darn good to me!  In this somewhat vicious and brutal election year, maybe passing along some love will have a lasting positive impact on all of us.  Will you join me and maybe we can all encourage each other?  Thank you - it matters now!


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Compassion

I believe compassion is one of the very best qualities a person can have.  I'm thankful to know a lot of compassionate people who care for me and put up with me and encourage me.  I strive to share that compassion in today's sometime uncaring world.....

I know that people are motivated by different things, but how can one not be motivated by someone caring about them?  I'm not at all motivated by fear or competition, although some people may be.  Even if you're motivated by those things, I still have to believe that compassion motivates you also.

It makes sense that compassion is the ultimate "pay it forward" motivation that can touch each of our lives, both individually and in groups and even in the world sense.  I might be opinionated about religion or politics or something else, but if you show compassion to me regardless of those beliefs, then I am touched and want to do the same for others, even those different from me.

So, let's try and be compassionate with each other.  I think Jesus would like this, since he told the original story about compassion for those different from us.

“There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.
“A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’
 “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”
“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.
Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”   (Luke 10: 30-17  The Message)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Another anniversary- the not-so-happy kind.

It's unbelievable to me that I haven't posted on this blog in almost a year!  I've written (partially or totally) several things but haven't shared them.  Tonight I'm more led to write and share, because tonight is the six-year anniversary of Randy leaving this world. That seems unbelievable to me- six whole years.  Things are much the same, but also very different in my life.  I think about Randy every day, but usually not in a sad or mournful way.  I remember the joy and fun times we shared and I miss those and him, but I'm also thankful for so many good things in my life today. I often think of those in light of how Randy would enjoy them, especially the puppies!

Of course, he would have suffered with me through losing Sophie and probably would have been OK to go full force into fostering to help ease that grief.  And then there's adopting Ellie Rose!   I'm sure he would love her as much as I do, although he probably would have taught her more manners at an earlier age, like he did Sophie!

The Alaska trip was something we both wanted to do, so I was a bit sad in some ways that he couldn't enjoy it with his brother, sis-in-law and me.  But that's just how life goes - we don't all get to do what we want or think or even expect.  I'm grateful for all the good times Randy and I had, as well as all of the good times I've managed to have without him here.  I'm mostly just thankful to be content where I am, at least most of the time.  Maybe I'm a little more content when there are three foster puppies asleep on/near my lap, as there are right now, but hey, give me a break!  We all have our addictions!



So, here's a toast to Randy and how he was loved - by not only me, but many of you and many others who won't ever read this.  Whenever and wherever you are, please think of Randy with a smile and a cheer (and a Boomer Sooner, if you're so inclined!).  Thank you for remembering him and sharing my memories tonight!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Joyful Sadness!

So again, as often I do in the evening when I don't have to go or be anywhere (which I love, BTW), I find myself a tad teary.  Now I don't want anyone to go worrying that I'm sitting here being all depressed or sad.  I'm not!  I think I sometimes get teary from being so happy.  It's usually after a busy day volunteering somewhere wonderful (ACH or UAMS or wherever) when I've encountered amazingly strong and loving people or precious babies.  I come home, have a glass of wine (or two) and enjoy the fact that at least two (and usually four) dogs are playing with each other or adapting to each other or even a little snarky with each other (as this rarely lasts).  The nights that it's cool enough to sit out on the deck, I will admit that a few kinda sad tears are for Randy, as that was one of our favorite things to do - usually with music playing in the background.  He was better at putting CDs in the player than I am, so usually now it's just quiet (except for the dogs panting!).

I don't understand this "joyful sadness" phenomenon but I feel like it's a good expression for me and one for which I am grateful.  It may be heightened by things I read on Facebook when I get home - again, usually good things, whether joyful moments for friends or one of my foster dogs and his great furever family being on vacation together in Maine or people in general being loving and nice to each other.  I try not to let the hateful, negative junk bother me - I either click in the upper right corner to say I don't like this post (and go from there) or if I'm feeling particularly loving, say a prayer for the person who posted it.  I wish I could say I did the latter more often.  I do fairly well to not turn on the TV, as the political ads make me to want to throw something at my TV - I so wish politicians and would-be politicians could not advertise on TV.  Think how much less money they'd need to raise?  That money could go to some so much worthwhile use.... like ACH or UAMS or even dog rescue!  Anything would be so much better than 30-second sounds bites of political lies/hate/untrue (or even true) accusations.  Does anyone actually use the information from these to decide how to vote?  I certainly hope not!

So, tonight, as sweet Luna lies on my lap (all 70 lbs of her) and Ellie Rose and Lucy sleep close on the floor (and the Parvo exposed pups sleep in the back bathroom), all is right with the world and I am thankful.  It may want me to shed a tear or two, but that is A-OK with me!