Zealotry and Zen

I find zealotry in all its forms completely distasteful. There is no faster way to completely dissuade me from a point of view than to try and ram it down my throat. This is on my mind this morning because I’m having a bit of a dilemma.  I respect a person having courage of conviction, and I pride myself on being a somewhat informed and educated person. I welcome new learning experiences of all sorts, and dissenting viewpoints. However, at the end of the day, it’s my right to decide whether I agree or disagree, and once I’ve done that, continued argument isn’t likely to do anything but push me farther from your school of thought.

Having said that, it’s important to qualify that we’re not “churchy” people…but we are “faith” people.  I had so much church foisted on me by two warring factions as a child, I vowed solemnly not to do that to my own children.  I have a wonderful relationship with the God of my own understanding. He may or may not be similar to yours, and frankly, I don’t care. I talk to him, he answers me in his own time and way, and my attendance in a house of worship of any denomination isn’t a requirement for that relationship. And that is all I have to say about that. Because I believe it should be a personal matter, and advertising your affiliation with or status within any religion, house of religion, or organization doesn’t make you any better at being a decent human than anyone else, myself included.  SO back to my dilemma.

My eight year old is a Cub Scout. He enjoys it, it’s a positive thing in his life, we enjoy the family based activities. As long as that continues to be the case, we’ll continue to be a part of the Scouts program.

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This week, Ryan is the “Star Student” in his classroom. This affords the classroom monarch a few privileges, one of which is to share something with his class that he enjoys. A toy, book, photographs, etc. With zero direction from either us or the Scouts, Ryan went to his teacher and asked if he could wear his scout uniform instead of his school uniform today, and share about some of the cool things he’s done in Scouts. She’s consented.

So I’m currently finishing up laundering said uniform, but I’m doing so with more than a few misgivings. You see, enrollment in Scouts programs is down. A lot. Some because of unfortunate events in the news in past years, but a good portion of it can be attributed to the fact that the Scouts aren’t allowed in most schools anymore. While there used to be a Scouts signup table at every school open house, winter carnival, etc…they’re now conspicuously absent.

You see, the Scouts, even though it’s a non-denominational organization, has some God going on. God’s in the book, the Scout Oath, and “Scout Sunday” involves attending your sponsoring or local church one Sunday per calendar year. (Completely optional)  It’s not a church program, it’s a community program. Boys and their families are welcome to take part in the program with any or no religious affiliation.

So, of course…there’s someone, somewhere, everywhere… who has decided to make noise about that.  One parental meltdown is all it takes for Scouting to be unwelcome at a school. One parent who feels that the mere mention or presence of a program that even makes mention of God is an effort to “indoctrinate” their child, separation of church and state, blah, blah, blah.

It’s absurdly funny to me that the most adamant of these objectors are most often the people who are so gung-ho about tolerance for and about protecting everyone’s right to their own feelings and beliefs. They tend to be more intolerant than anyone I’ve ever seen. The right to one’s own feelings and beliefs only applies for them when it doesn’t conflict with their own agenda. Am I the only one who sees this as complete hypocrisy?

I take serious issue with that. One of the most beautiful principles this country was founded on was Freedom. Freedom to think, speak, believe, worship, not worship, vote, object or abstain AS WE PLEASE in all matters. Blessed autonomy. So why do we now suddenly expect schools, workplaces, public places to police and insulate us completely from the beliefs or ideas of others? What happened to the right to and common sense to just be secure enough in your own convictions to respectfully tolerate those of others? To just BE, and let everyone else BE…

This is how I’ve tried to raise my kids. To know that…Not everyone is like you. And that’s ok. It’s their right to be different just as much as it’s yours. It’s for you to decide what you believe in and how you want to carry yourself as a person. 10710712_953048228055375_7582096015899745441_n.jpg

So, I’m sending my kid to school today in his Scouts uniform. With the dread that I’ll get a phone call later. That my little boy will be confused and hurt and not understand what is possibly threatening or objectionable about a program that he has fun in, that teaches him to be a good person, a responsible citizen, and a good steward of the environment. That he will come home feeling there’s something bad or wrong about being a Scout. That my son’s teacher will be called away from her class for a stern talking to, and that I’ll get a phone call citing the School dress code and uniform policy and have to take my child a proper plain polo shirt. I’m steeling myself for that, because I’m not quite sure how gracefully I’ll handle it. Tact and vocal filtering really aren’t my strong suit. Especially where my wee ones are involved.

I miss America. I don’t know when we became a land so hyper focused on insulating everyone else’s little baby feelings that we became afraid to have our own. There’s something that feels inherently wrong with that. I really miss America.

 

 

 

 

 

Angels Working Overtime

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The angels are certainly getting a workout this week on behalf of my family. Two days ago there were wannabe thugs shooting it out on the front yard of one of my grown children and today… This is my seventeen year old son’s Chrysler Sebring Convertible, or what’s left of it.

Just a few very short hours ago, he was on his way from Pennsylvania, where he’s currently living with his Dad and working, down here to the shore for the next 5 days. About 30 miles from my house, this happened.

For starters…and these are not just parental blinders… This kid doesn’t use his phone while driving. If you’re a parent blowing it up (or even a friend), you will be notified, quite petulantly, that he has had to pull over to call you back and find out just what your deal is and why it could not wait 15 minutes. He is also a seventeen year old seatbelt Nazi. Whether he is in the front or back seats, it’s on him. If you’re a passenger in his car, you put yours on or accept that walking is not crowded.  If you’re driving him somewhere…he’s a parrot in the passenger seat who only knows one phrase “Put your seatbelt on.”

What he does, however, is keep somewhat odd hours. As any 17, almost 18 year old is prone to do. Especially one with a full time job. I spoke to him before he left PA this morning. I asked him to update me with his trip progress and he answered that he was gassed up and traditionally does not stop for anything, I could probably not expect to hear from him until he got here. “Mom, you know I will not call or text when I am driving.”

When the phone rang at 12:44 pm, I didn’t think for a second something was wrong. I picked up the phone and was prepared for Mom-gloating that he actually had to stop to pee, or stretch, or something.

Mom: “Well, hellllllooooo, child of mine. How’s your trip going?”

Kid: “Holy sh$t, Mom, I flipped my F-ing car.”

This is not what any parent wants to hear in well…ever. My rational mind, which would tell me that if he’s speaking in coherent sentences and calling me on the phone, then he must be fundamentally intact…it goes on vacation. There are immediate visions of my baby boy hanging upside down by a seatbelt in a vehicle that’s mangled. Is he trapped? Is there fuel? Is it going to blow up?

Mom: “Are YOU ok?”

Kid: “Yeah, Mom, I’m fine. The car, Oh my God, Mom, the car”

Mom: F*#k the car, Justin! ARE YOU OK?”

It all runs together at this point. There are passers by talking in the background, the police and EMT’s haven’t even arrived yet, but I don’t know this yet. The questions come rapid fire now.

Mom: “Has someone called 911… Are you out of the car? Are you whole? Are you hurt? Bleeding? Where in the hell are you?”

Kid: “Yeah, they’re on their way…where am I ? Uh…I don’t know…I mean, I’m not sure. Hey! Ma’am…where am I?”

Random lady: “Hebron, kid…you’re in Hebron. Holy crap, maybe you should sit down.”

Male voice: “Son, I need you to sit down. Were you driving that…” ….CLICK.

Call back, no answer. Again. Again. Again.

It’s all kind of a blur after that. I called T, thankfully, he was right around the corner. I rang the phone. What came out of my face was something very staccato and rude.

“I don’t care where you are, or what you’re doing, it stops right now, I need you here, there’s been an accident. Justin. Hebron. Flipped car….”

He cuts me off “I’ll be right there.”

There was a call from Justin somewhere between home and Hebron…they had taken him to the ER in Salisbury, nearby.

The rest of this afternoon has been a kind of blur of people and faces and calls and prayers. The rushed him to the hospital in an ambulance. We were there inside thirty minutes. It’s a forty minute drive.  We found out the flashers cut themselves off repeatedly at certain speeds. EMT’s were apparently making him laugh on the scene with comments like…

“So that is your car?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Were you in it when this happened?”

I had to call his father. His sister. I didn’t call his older brother, because I knew he’d be racing there with no driver’s license and two babies in a van. The neighbors. Please get his little brother off the bus.

We got to the hospital and I completely bypassed the state trooper in the hall for my kid on the gurney. I kissed his face and then, only half jokingly, started feeling for broken bones and missing parts. Why is my child on a gurney in the hall?

The ensuing conversation with the state trooper, the hospital paperwork, everything all runs together. The trooper,  a very nice fellow, was incredulous that my child had walked away, seemingly without a scratch. One small abrasion on his knuckles from crawling his way out of the upside down wreckage. That’s it. Not even a mark from the seat belt.

The car, apparently drifted off the roadway at 55 mph, where the cruise control was set, and straddled a construction barricade. Traveling up the incline of that barricade launched it into the air, rotating sideways about 10-12 feet above the ground for somewhere between one to two hundred feet. The underside of the car struck a tree, slowing it down, and it came to rest on the nose and hood, completely upside down. Miraculously and inexplicably NOT on the soft convertible top, which would have crushed and killed one of my babies instantly. Not a single airbag deployed. Not one. My second born son released himself from the seatbelt and extricated himself before anyone ever had time to stop and run over.

My thanks to the emergency personnel and first responders. I think they’re an unappreciated breed, and I’m extremely thankful, not only for their handling of the situation today, but for the fact that they got to see a positive outcome. It could have been, and often is, very different.

They discharged him within the hour. I’m glad that in such a small town, I did not see that car on the rollback before I laid eyes on my child. I would have fainted dead away on the spot. When we were discharged, we had to go get his belongings from the tow yard out of the car. This is what we pulled up to.

As it turns out, the driver for the tow company happened to be just across the road having her lunch and witnessed the entire accident. The account of what happened came mostly from her, and what the officers were able to piece together. My son told us this afternoon he had stopped at a McDonald’s and gotten a sprite in the drive through just a half an hour before this happened. He had the notion to put the top down, but elected not to. Didn’t want to get out of the car and mess with it.

I don’t know what you believe…but there is no other earthly explanation to me than someone far bigger than all of us allowing a thin skin protecting 206 very fragile bones to crawl out of this alive and unharmed.

Stay on your kids about seatbelts. They’re ridiculously important. I’m thanking God tonight that my son is so vigilant about wearing his. This could have ended very differently than with my son currently sleeping off the adrenaline crash on my couch. He wasn’t under the influence of anything, and didn’t have a phone in his hand. He wasn’t fiddling with the radio, and no other vehicles were involved. One split second. That’s all it takes.

I’m hoping I’m done this week with my children having near death experiences. I don’t think I can bear another one.

Have a blessed night everyone. Go hug your kids.