MTM: Soggy

Rain has been a near-constant companion for the past week, helping to thaw two months worth of icy, dirty accumulations of snow.

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It’s not pretty — and not just because it is a cheap cell phone picture.

All that rain is also raising the level of the river, which has been running three times above normal at 16,000 ft. per second. I’d share a picture but this weather has also affected my ankle; the hardware (or maybe it’s arthritis?) does not let me get out-and-about easily when it is damp and cold.

We’re down to 8 inches of soggy snow in the front yard, although it’s much higher wherever the shovelfuls landed or the snowblower blew it. The dirty snow at the edges of the street is ugly, but it’s nowhere near the danger level of the many potholes that have become evident now that the streets are no longer covered with several inches of compact snow and ice. Commuting to and from my exercise class (and yes, I know that is a silly thing: driving in order to workout elsewhere) I’m one of many drivers zig-zagging in and out of the lanes to avoid becoming a pothole victim.

Days like this are good reminders to “unplug” so I went to the public library after church and returned home with a stack of books.

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The two items on top are DVDs about Ellis Island: one is an overview from the History Channel and the other is a PBS documentary about the hospital on Ellis Island. Three out of the five books are stories of immigrants. I may be unplugging for a bit, but I am not ignoring what is happening all around us.

MTM: Local Events

SuperDad trains all year for his favorite event, the Langlauf 10km Nordic skiing race on Mt. Spokane. In 2016 he took 3rd place in his age group, which only encouraged him to train harder. The extra training he did (some in thanks to Pokémon GO) paid off in yesterday’s race. Congratulations to the first place winner for his age group!

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This, of course, begs the question: will 2018 bring him more cowbell?

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too cool for sitting around the fire

Winter, however, is far from over. I snapped these two pictures prior to leaving for work on Thursday morning. The school district had to cancel classes and after school activities due to weather. The main roads were okay but we had received a fresh load of snow followed by a layer of ice and freezing rain.  It was the first day that The Scout felt up to going to class all week; he learned his lesson about checking his phone for messages after he got the the empty school parking lot.

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This is the kind of ICE we like best.

After church yesterday, I headed over to one of the university campuses here in town for a #RallyWithRefugees. The large room was filled to capacity and overflowed to other places where people could watch on screens, thanks to use of Facebook Live. The event had been pulled together with 3 different groups sponsoring it — Whitworth University, Gonzaga University, and the World Relief office — after the immigration fiasco at our nation’s airports. Those who attended were given the big picture of what is happening, the intimate look at what refugees go through to resettle here (the personal stories were eye-opening and inspiring), some details on how local officials are dealing with it here in Spokane, the legalities facing everyone (but especially refugees), and concrete suggestions on how we can help others. The event was worth every minute I spent there.

We had just finished hearing the story of one young woman’s quest for education when a city councilman got up to speak. He was showing his emotions not only because of the personal stories that were being shared but also because he’d just gotten word that ICE was currently doing sweeps downtown and that other city council members were hurrying to the main bus station and train station to question them. Having leadership in our city and state that support humane treatment of others is priceless.

The tactics used by the administration of POTUS45 are fear-based and education-deficient. So let’s combat those two issues (fear and a lack of education) with some information from the World Relief office:

“Under both international and U.S. law, a refugee is an individual who has fled his or her country of origin because of a credible fear of persecution on account of their race, religion, political opinion, national origin, or social group. This definition of a refugee does not include those who flee their homes but stay within the boundaries of their country (“Internally Displaced Persons”) nor does it include those who flee a situation of poverty, national disaster, or violence, unless the violence was specifically motivated by their race, religion, political opinion, or one of the other grounds under the legal definition.  The U.S. government admits individuals for resettlement within the United States only after a thorough individual screening abroad to ensure both that they meet the legal definition of a refugee and that they in no way pose a national security or health threat to the United States.”

The current screening process for all refugees involves many layers of security checks before entry into the country. In addition, only the most vulnerable are referred by the U.N. for refugee resettlement (less than 1 percent of refugees worldwide). For more, read this New York Times article.  It’s not a rapid scenario — vetting a refugee takes approximately 2 years with multiple background checks, interviews, and approval processes. Syrians go through additional layers of checks. Some people spend years waiting in refugee camps. They don’t have a home to which they can return.

As a person of faith, being concerned with how my country and fellow citizens treat others is not just a matter of personal opinion; the Bible is full of scriptures relating to how I am to respond to refugees and other migrating people, regardless of whether you read the New Testament or the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures. Even for those who do not profess faith, the Golden Rule makes is clear how we ought to respond to the crisis of refugees.

 

A Thin Line

I recently made one of those comments-turned-hijacked-posts. I seem to do that more often than I should occasionally. Yes, I can be overly word-y. If I am honest with myself, I would say it happens often. Luckily, in this case, it was appreciated enough by the owner of the blog that she asked me to post it here myself.  You can blame thank her for that!

There but for the grace of God go I.

Do you ever think that, when looking at a situation someone else finds themselves in — that, hey, that could have been me?  That’s where my brain took me when I read these words from Jenn:
(This is just a piece of the post. Please read her full post here.)

Kind of makes you think about how a woman’s economic status is directly related to her ability to delay and control her childbearing. This is not where I was going at all, when I started this post, but even if you’re one of those undecided or Romney voters that consider economic issues to trump issues of social justice like women’s access to medical care, you’ve got to see the connection between early childbirth and lower socioeconomic status. Right?

This was my response:

While there is a good chance that I will be a grandmother around the age of 50, it will be because it was planned that way by a loving couple who graduated from college before starting their family.
Now that I’ve written this, I am a wee bit nervous about my teenage son… But that only serves to illustrate the point, I guess: a married couple with a decent income to support a growing family vs. a pair of high schoolers who are still children themselves.

I’ve often thought that it could easily have been me at 18 or 19, starting out with a baby (and maybe/maybe not a husband) and a severely limited income.

Liberal or Conservative, I only want the people in charge to remember that the dividing line between the haves and have-nots is thin line indeed. It could break at any moment due to job loss, poor grades, major injury or illness, or a poorly timed pregnancy (just to name a few things). In other words, look around you and make sure that your response is “that could be me” when you see someone in need.
I actually have conservative friends who DO think that way, for which I am grateful. I’m big on compassion. It makes me a little less scared about the future.

I attempted to have this sort of discussion on facebook with a friend who, when given the young, poor, married, and pregnant scenario to consider, just laughed — which is why she is a FORMER friend.  Her choices in the election here in the United States don’t bother me; it is her choice and her conscience, as it is for ALL of us. What does bother me is her lack of compassion for those who haven’t been as lucky in life.

I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I do recognize the thin line that divides our country — not the line between Republican and Democrat, but the the dividing line between the haves and have-nots — and I want to keep a healthy dose of compassion available at all times.