Who to Blame for Orlando. 

In response to the vicious attack in Orlando this weekend a lot of voices have been quick to blame somebody.

Blame Obama. Blame the NRA. 

Blame Muslims. Blame “the gays.” Blame Christians. 

The common thread is that we all like to blame other people. People unlike us. Those people.

Surely there is some blame to go around and there are things that need to be addressed in the coming days…

BUT…

The struggle for me is I can spend a whole lot of time blaming other people without ever addressing my complicity. How have I contributed  to a world where a young man decides to take this course of action? How I have failed to prevent this behavior from happening?

Have I loved my neighbors as myself?

Have I promoted violence in my words, actions, or ideologies?

Have I contributed to the idea that the LGBT community is somehow less valuable?

Have I neglected the need for sound mental health resources in our country?

Have I refused to learn about people from different worlds or who have differing opinions?

Have I driven a wedge between myself and people of different faiths?

Maybe those things can’t be traced directly to the shooting, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t contributed to the culture that led to this horrendous act.

I contribute to this type of brokenness when I close my mind and heart to others. I contribute when I dig in and draw lines in the sand. I contribute when I spend more time talking (or yelling) than listening.

I am a part of the problem when I let our differences weaken us rather than make us stronger. I’m the problem when I perpetuate “us vs them” thinking. When I reduce complex discussions to simple pat answers. 

I’m to blame when I fear other people because they have a different skin color or religious practice or orientation or political opinion or hair cut. 

I’m complicit when I misrepresent  what other people believe or do. And when I get all my best arguments from memes. And when I allow the loudest voices at the polar ends of the spectrum tell me what to think.

I’m guilty if I only listen to people who tell me I’m right. Or if I take offense to the fact that other people think I’m wrong. Or if I’m ridiculous enough to believe  I’ve already learned all there is to know about all the subjects the rest of humanity can’t agree on.

I may never pull a trigger or detonate a bomb or even throw a punch but I know how to be incredibly divisive. I know how to be arrogant and how to exclude and how to belittle others. I know how to be a bully and I know how to run my mouth and I know how to post inflammotary and dismissive things on Facebook.

When I do those things I am contributing to a world hell bent on being right and in control at all cost. A world that becomes divided and exclusive at the expense of others. A world that leaves people feeling unheard, alone, and out of options. A world where shooting people who are different too frequently becomes an option.

And when I do those things I am to blame. It is way easier for me to be part of the problem than to be part of the solution. And it is far too easy for me to point fingers at all those people who are wrong and neglect to examine my own self. 

Jesus said before we go about trying to get the speck of dust out of our neighbor’s eye we should remove the wooden plank from our on eye. Maybe before we go around blaming all the other people who are at fault we could stop and ask how we have been adding rancour and discouragement and anger to the world around us. Maybe we need to ask how much of our behavior we justify when it is the very same behavior that the Orlando shooter (and countless others) demonstrated long before they ever killed a person.

Hate doesn’t start with a bullet or a bomb. It starts in the heart. I want no part in that. Not in my heart or yours. So I’m asking myself: am I stoking the fires of division and hate and fear? Or am I working for peace, spreading love, and offering hope? For all peope? Even those people?

That’s the world I want. That’s a world worth working toward. 

On Moms Who Waste Coffee.

2016-05-06 13.38.20

Assorted mugs found around my home. 

Also found on HuffPost Parents:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-gilmore/to-moms-who-waste-coffee_b_9859534.html

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When I come home from work I regularly find coffee mugs, half full of delicious dark magic, in various locations around the house. I find them on the kitchen table, in the microwave, in the laundry room. Sometimes I find them right next to the coffee maker, never making it beyond their filling.

I’ve come to the conclusion that my wife enjoys wasting coffee (a borderline deadly sin). Either that or she is so preoccupied with other things that finishing an 8-ounce beverage becomes an arduous task.

It’s likely the later.

She is probably too busy chasing children intent on hitting each other with toy hammers. Or catching a baby that can’t quite sit up on her own. She’s likely trying to get crayon off the floors or making sure I haven’t spent all our money on Amazon. She’s often had to pick up someone from school or drop a friend off at work or take a child to the doctor.

As she regularly makes decisions based on what other people need, she sets asides the things she wants and enjoys. Things like warm coffee and exercise and not having anyone in the bathroom while she does her business.

That’s how she loves us.

Moms come in all shapes and sizes. Some work, some stay home. Some are doing it on their own, some have great support. There are adoptive moms, foster moms, bio moms, neighborhood moms, stepmoms, grandmother moms.

Regardless of their specific circumstances, there is a common theme. Mothers always seem to put the needs of others above themselves. They trade what they want or need for what others want and need.

They set down their cups of coffee in order to kneel and kiss a boo-boo or in order to read a book for the 19th time since yesterday.

They trade in their careers for the chance to be home or they trade in their sick days when it’s not them that has a bug (and then are forced to work when it is their turn with the illness).

Many give up their hobbies and find new ones that revolve around soccer practice and band recitals.

Moms, it seems, often trade in warm meals for cold ones by tending to everyone else first.

Most forgo any moments of silence and many trade in money that could have been spent on a new something-or-other in order to make sure the family has what it needs.

They give up sleep when their children are little and again when they are teenagers out past curfew.

I’m sure many feel like they’re trading in their sanity or personal hygiene or the ability to have an adult conversation without interruption in order to be who their family needs them to be.

Moms are constantly giving, thinking of others, looking out for danger, making sure everyone feels loved, ensuring discipline is consistent, and on and on and on. Often at their own expense.

And so I just want to say thanks.

To the moms who set aside their coffee, their book, their free time, their bodies, in order to care for their families, thank you.

To the mamas doing this on your own, you are heroes and the strongest of the strong. You inspire us and we got your back.

To the moms who work, we know it is difficult to come home to be met with the demands of homework and schedules. You are resilient and we admire you.

To the mothers at home, we know it’s not a vacation, nor for the faint of heart. You are wonderful and doing something many of us couldn’t.

To the moms whose kids have grown, to the moms whose kids are gone, to the moms who have broken a cycle of bad parenting, you have made an impact. We celebrate you and the lives you’ve touched.

Moms, thanks for all you do, have done, and will do. You make this world a better place.

May you see your sacrifices as an investment. May you find all the energy, wisdom, patience, and courage you need to navigate this immense responsibility. And may you soon find the time to enjoy a warm, un-reheated, cup of coffee.