Friday, March 28, 2014

Considering Malaysian Tragedy Losses

I love that I have friends that require me to 'think'.

A visit this week by Marian (Happy Birthday, Girl!) had us sitting and chatting, laughing and pondering, as we do.  The topic of the tragic loss of the Malaysian Airlines jet full of passengers came up as we covered current events. 

She couldn't recall who she'd heard mention it but the thought was that there were 152 Chinese citizens and the reporter and Marian both wondered, how many were sons? That was over two-thirds of the total number of passengers. We have a couple of questions. Why has this not been discussed with all of the news coverage on every local and cable network in existence? How could they miss it?

With any other country's involvement this question would never be an issue. In this case, however, it explained the extraordinarily tortured faces in photos and videos of the families awaiting news of the plane.

No disrespect to the other lost Souls but for anyone else who hasn't considered it, this bears discussion. The One-Child Policy in China was mandated in 1979.  The government believed there was a need to limit the number of children each couple could and should have in order to control the population, the poverty, and assure enough young, tax-paying healthy male workers to care financially for the aging population of the future. At one time, it was actually up to 'work units' to know your reproductive cycle and give permission to those whose turn it was to try to have a baby.

Since males in many countries, yes....even the United States, have had more 'value' than females, many little girl babies lost their lives, just for being born female. Many have been illegally aborted if the ultrasound showed a girl, many 'missing girls' were found to be in state-run orphanages, given away, adopted or abandoned to give way to a chance for a boy. In Chinese and many cultures, when a girl-child is allowed to be born and marries, she becomes part of the groom's family and cares for his parents as they age, not her own. This retirement plan was yet one more incentive, I suppose, for having a boy? (I'm squinting HARD here!)

In 20 more years, however, instead of 5 tax-paying workers to support one elder's benefits, there will be only two, according to an article on this subject: 

It also states Germany and Japan (much more 'advanced' economies) are dealing with this now. Germany's moved ahead a bit, but Japan is still dropping as of the last two years.

I'm not trying to flippant about this and I'm not making accusations that these horrible things occur in every case but 

Under this law, I can see where it could make a couple desperate and tragically sad. (See YouTube vids on the topic) A couple in an urban area are allowed one child.  A couple in a rural setting could have two, IF the first was a girl or disabled. The law's very optimistic but controlling and misguided use actually wasn't even necessary because in the 70's, births were declining, anyway. Therefore, with some exceptions, i.e. neither of the couple has a sibling, the firstborn is a girl or is born disabled in some way, or the child is of an ethnic minority, a couple is allowed to have one child in the city and two in the country. I feel the need to repeat that as I sit and shake my head. Allowed. The things we take for granted...whew!

A couple can actually be fined a "social compensation fee" based on their annual income if they violate this law.  It has run into the millions of yuan. This law has led to an inordinate ratio of men to women that can only worsen as time passes. In fact, a study shows there will be 30 million more men than women in China by 2020. So unless, they figure out a way to make each other pregnant (Not!), the economy will become unstable as more men leave China in search of brides, the population will obviously decrease, and there will be few left to care for the elderly, financially or otherwise.

Here's the understatement of the year. China may have been overly cautious in the 70's. Poverty levels did improve, but they are just now coming to grip with and understanding what else lies ahead. Gee, that only took 30 years!  Let's see what's next and how long it takes for something more to change about this nonsensical policy, like it's removal.

In a related 'aside', a Danish travel agency has begun a campaign to get their young people to START having more babies due to declining birth rates. They are calling it, "Do It For Denmark". Yes, it's tacky, in my opinion, but may prove effective. 

Many developed countries are going to find themselves emulating the Danes, eventually, given our own declining birth rates.  The fastest growing populations seem to be situated in Africa, and the slowest in wealthy countries like the U.S. Now, I could list a few reasons as to why that is but will leave that alone...for now. Let's just say, we'll regret it someday like Denmark.

Any parent who lost a son on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, not only lost their child, but their only child, and the only child they will ever have, considering their ages, and some lost their only grandchildren, as well.

Thus, the maddening pain displayed as they waited and were told of no survivors is something many of us cannot even comprehend. The US$5000 the airline's offering will be no condolence for their true loss on March 7, 2014.

But, I suppose this is what happens when you treat human beings as a commodity with a currency figure on our heads rather than by the Spirit and Life within us.

4/1/14 Update:  Someone's thinking same way today.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How Do We Say Goodbye?

How do you say goodbye to a dear old friend?  How do you cope with the fact you'll never see this old friend again in life?  He won't be there when you feel like cuddling. He won't be there to take a walk with you. He won't be there to yell at or to laugh at.  He won't be there to hear your secrets and never tell. He won't be there breathing in your ear, licking your hand or drooling on your lap. 

By now, you may have figured out that I'm referring to a pet.

“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.”
Johnny Depp 

A close friend has had her dog for almost 18 years, now. The time has come where he is no longer the puppy that chased squirrels, ran away from home to McDonald's, and sneaked over to play (and we believe smoke cigars and play Poker) with his puppy-pal, Mercutio, across the street while she yelled and yelled for him.

I know the story of how he came to be hers and now am doing what I can in her pain in ending his suffering. I know how deeply he will be missed. No matter how loved she is, nothing can replace that dog.

“I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.”
Doris Day  

I've spent time with this dog and can only say that as a non-dog-owner....I like him. He was reasonably well-behaved. OK. He did keep pushing his head up under my breast once for some weird reason. While my friend was in the hospital, we split some Mexican food and bonded. He pissed me off by running out of the backyard when I let him out to 'go'. I had a mega-fit thinking, "Oh, no! Leave it to me! I've lost her dog! That's just great!"

The little monster turned up at the front door, looking like, "What? What's the problem?".

“I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.”
John Steinbeck

He's been her companion for years, her protector, her little boy, her secret-keeper, her source of irritation and joy, and her buddy. 

“You can say any fool thing to a dog and the dog will just give you this look that says, 'My GOSH, you're RIGHT! I NEVER would've thought of that!”
Dave Barry 

I can't begin to imagine what it's like to have to lose such a closeness like pet-owners have with their pets.  I attempted, once as a child and once as an adult, to have a puppy.  One mistake on the carpet and they received new and better trained homes than I could provide.

Dogs and children. They say you should never act with them as they will always upstage you. They both seem to gravitate toward me for some reason. They always like me and I like them.

“It’s the person who likes to pat dogs to whom dogs come for pats.”
Arthur Gordon, A Touch of Wonder

I should be a dog-owner. I want to be. Big 'but' here...I have trouble keeping plants alive. I'm afraid to have to be responsible for a little loving loyal creature so dependent on me and my routine, of which I have none. So, I have a toy stuffed pug called, Bingo, on my nightstand. Life is safer that way.

“Discipline isn't about showing a dog who's boss; it's about taking
responsibility for a living creature you have brought into your world.”
Cesar Millan, Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar's Way to Transform Your Dog . . . and Your Life 

I come up with great names for dogs and cats. I bugged my husband about getting one. I played on his heartstrings that I need something to 'tend' to while he works part-time. It didn't work.  He knows me way too well. It's not only the plant-thing that puts an end to the conversation.  He knows that I would have the most difficult time, as he has with previous pets, saying "goodbye".  I am sensitive enough to not push the issue, not knowing how that feels and what he's gone through. I respect him enough to let him live with the memory of his beloved dogs, horses, and once, even a monkey.  (His mom loved animals!)

“And it is exceedingly short, his galloping life. Dogs die so soon. I have my stories of that grief, no doubt many of you do also. It is almost a failure of will, a failure of love, to let them grow old—or so it feels. We would do anything to keep them with us, and to keep them young. The one gift we cannot give.”
Mary Oliver, Dog Songs 

So, with great sorrow, but still not close to what my dear friend is feeling, I say goodbye to Chester. He was a great friend to my friend. He kept her company. He was there for her...always.

 “Heaven's the place where all the dogs you've ever loved come to greet you.”
Unknown Author 516
Love you, Chester, for all you meant to and all you did for your owner! We'll all miss you!

Big hug to you, Pal!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Entering the Desert

As my readers know, I am a Catholic Christian.  As you may also know, yesterday was Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, as many know it. You may also know that today is Ash Wednesday. It may or may not mean anything to many of you. But, all my Christian brothers and sisters should know a bit about it.

I have not been writing lately as I was distracted by, well, the World. Ok. That and by writers block.

I have wasted time, literally, becoming hooked on games like Sugar Crush and Farm Hero Saga and Mahjongg Dimensions. I have wasted time watching television reruns of sit-coms to make myself feel better in the face of some sorrows.  I have wasted time on Facebook, checking it every hour. I have wasted TIME.

Time is precious. It cannot be like sand in our hands. It should not be something we take for granted. It shouldn't be since we know we have no control over how much we have or when it ends.

During my absence from this blog, I have been praying, which I do not consider a waste of time.  Events have occurred to which I should have given my full attention, such as sick family members and friends, my husband, my home, myself, and, yes, my God.

The Lenten Season is not one in which you have to "give up" something only.  There are children who say they are giving up homework for Lent. Adults who say they are giving up chocolate. Nice try! It is a time of reflection, of devotion, of quiet time in the desert with Jesus before He enters His Passion and Death.  It's what I believe and not what I am say you MUST believe. This is an information page. But for me, and over a billion Catholics, we are with Him right now and will be for 40 days.

In this time, hopefully, we are abstaining from what has distracted us from being with Him at other times, giving alms (charity and time) and giving Him the time He deserves for giving US time to live and love by additional reading of the Bible and/or other religious readings, prayers, and quiet time with Him so He isn't alone and so we can experience His presence in our lives and experience time away from the World and all it's distractions. And, hopefully, what we do will continue after Lent, as well.

This is how "I" understand and practice.

Now, I am in the middle of training to become a volunteer Child Advocate for the Courts.  I am trying to help children who need to have a voice after going through abuse or neglect. There are just too many children in Foster Care or who need to be placed in Foster Care or reunified with their families who have no one to speak for them, to advocate for them. I'm going to be a GAL (guardian at litem). I like that. No one's called me a gal in a while.

I'm going to need some prayers to get through this and to be able to do a good job once I'm certified. With the MS, it will definitely be a challenge. It, fortunately, does not take many direct man-hours, only a minimum visit of once per month and attending hearings once or twice per year.  I have to build a trusting relationship with whoever I am placed with and be their voice with all the adults who are managing their cases. That part I know I can do but want to do to the best of my ability. I will make sure everyone is on the same page so this child is not disappointed or hurt by any adult ever again. I realize there is no guarantee of that, but one can try, right?

Funny but the hardest part is the learning.  I haven't been in a classroom setting in a LOOOOONG while but would be a permanent student if I could afford it. The more you learn, the more you see you need to know.

These volunteers have been doing this for a very long time so that is encouraging.  There must be some reward to it or they'd have dropped out.  The reward I seek is seeing a child placed permanently in a home and loved and cared for always. 

I'll do my best.  With Lent.  And with my latest endeavor.

Pray for me!

2015 UPDATE:  Good news! I have been a volunteer for the past year and if anyone is interested in helping  in their communities, check out Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) at , Guardian Ad Litem Programs, or Voices for Children in your area. It is SO worth it for you and for the children!  Be blessed!!