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The Idiot's Guide to Turn the World Around

The trifecta of holidays are here: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Halloween has come and gone, and now Thanksgiving is coming up in a little less than a week. Or is it Christmas first, and then Thanksgiving and back to Christmas again? I honestly don't know anymore. Whatever happened to celebrating one holiday at a time and have distinct times to sell and publicize each one in its own time, no rushing involved? Or - and here's a radical thought - actually having an appreciation for Halloween and Thanksgiving without bombarding us with Christmas merchandise, decorations, and gifts WAY too early? Maybe, maybe not? But I'm veering off into a tangent again. The holiday season has arrived, and no matter how you feel about Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, it's always such a fun time of year. Even magical. But what about the most wonderful times of the year that aren't magical? Especially when families get together to share gifts and a meal after being apart for over a year for the most part? Excluding a pandemic? Picture it: The food is being prepared, appetizers are out, the libations are starting to bulge to the point of overflowing, and the guests start arriving. Including all of the great aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, and plus ones. There's the hugs, occasional cheek pinching and inappropriate comments, and more as people start coming inside from the cold (or warmth, if you live on the islands). and playing catch up. Much to talk about amongst the family as the feast is being prepared - births, deaths, marriages, significant others, education, careers, starting over, keeping going, and so on. But then it veers off into uncharted and even hostile territory, the topics that cause the most tension and stress. (Alcohol may or may not have something to do with this.) Politics. Abortion. BLM. LGBTQ+. Parenting techniques. Careers. Education. Healthcare. Relationship problems. Racism. Sexism. Assault. Abuse. What happened last summer nobody new about. What happened last winter nobody knew about. Midlife crises. Bullying. Infidelity. Vaccines. Mask mandates. Who's right. Who's wrong. And before you knew, a few too many drinks later, shouts and unspoken words of "I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN!" and plenty of tears are shed that makes this dinner turn into a complete disaster. Well, there are several ways this could be avoided at all costs. First, there's the universal (if not frequently unspoken) agreement to not talk about these things whatsoever at the meal. But that may not always work due to certain relatives being more chatty and outspoken than the rest of us, and they may want, no, EXPECT to talk about current events without any filters or restrictions. But here's another idea to consider, and it involves this quote:

Here is something important to consider that we often forget: Each of us are INDIVIDUALS. We have our own beliefs, opinions, and ideas. We're NOT meant to agree with one another ALL THE TIME. We're not also meant to tell people they're right or they're wrong or even call them stupid based off of those beliefs, opinions, and ideas. We each deserve a chance to share what we were taught, our experiences, and even our opinions based on both of those things. But a big question to consider: If those opinions, beliefs, and ideas differ from my own, how can I make a bridge to help both of us understand, respect, and even love each other without belittling them or questioning their own self-worth? And also without compromising my own ideals and beliefs? Especially during the holiday season? Well, I have some thoughts about this one, and it involves two very important things. My faith and a special song that I hold dear to my heart. I hope you have a pen and paper (or even laptop) ready because we're going to be discussing on how to turn the world around.

Most people aren't surprised that I'm a Christian. They're surprised at how I act and share what's taught to me within my religion in a caring way. "You're not like most Christians," they say. I smile and stumble to find the right words to say as they apologize and try to patch things up after I explain to them that I don't necessarily do or say the things that people assume Christians speak about or act upon. But then again, I'm never like most Christians because of how I was taught to love everyone in the best way possible, even from a distance, and to not be afraid to be vulnerable. That wasn't always the case. I grew up the Catholic church, and went to Catholic schools for most of my life. And the ideas of loving each individual and being vulnerable was actually frowned upon as I grew up in this church denomination. I was taught to fear the LGBTQ+, abortion is a sin, and that I had to be absolutely perfect, even when I'm not feeling like myself or happy inside. If I wanted to talk about what was going on at home, I had to suck it up and keep a smile on my face. In other words, fear reigned in the Catholic church, and being vulnerable and open was the highest sin of them all. I slowly moved away from the Catholic church as I attended college, but it wasn't until I moved away from the Midwest I found my way back to God again. I'm currently with a non-denominational church in my area, and there are times when I'm still overwhelmed. But not in the way you think. This particular community church encourages vulnerability, blatant honesty, and love without any boundaries. And the ideas that coming to God in prayer as we are - broken, scared, angry, struggling, alone, and so much more - is definitely a radical thought for me indeed! I no longer had to put up a façade, hide anything, or even lie. I was welcomed as I am, and I continue to find myself surprised that it's actually okay to be vulnerable with everyone as I share my struggles, experiences, and beliefs that I was taught. In a way, I was meant to come to this particular community church to learn something important. I have so much to learn about myself and my faith, and it can be done in a way that is out of love, not out of fear or power. My friends give me the chance to talk about what I was taught, ask the questions, and share my insights without any prejudice or preconceived notions. In return, they share what was taught to them, discuss their experiences, and help bridge both of what we've said in love. No "you're wrong" or anything like that. We actually take the time to LISTEN to each other, share what we've discussed, and allow ourselves to have our minds and hearts opened to new ideas and thoughts that were never taught to us before. All without name-calling or shouting obscenities or even hexing the other person. It's a shame all people can't be like this. The question is, WHY? Well, I have another suggestion to share with you:

The very idea to accept new ideas, suggestions, and beliefs other than what was taught is a struggle for some people. They would rather be rooted in what was passed down to them instead of branching out or even uprooting to a new location because it's easier for them to keep what they know and believe to be true, rather than make an attempt to change and transform with the times. And they would also rather surround themselves with people who think exactly like them, which means not thinking at all more than likely. Even the most forward-thinking of individuals have this problem. We have to give up so much of who we were in order to become, or even gain the gifts and skills, who we are meant to be. Change isn't easy, that's true. But we shouldn't fear it. Or others who are different from us. Do you what's sad about this? It's encouraged in some churches, the idea of standing still and not moving forward towards change, or even to people who are different from us by skin color, sexuality, political preference, and more. However, if I'm not mistaken, Jesus Christ himself went towards and loved those who are different, or even outcast, from the vast majority of the population. He went towards the poor. He went towards the lepers. He went towards the infidels. He went towards the tax collectors. He went towards the prostitutes. He went towards the vulnerable. He went towards the sick (physically and mentally). He went towards the lost. He went towards the widows. He went towards the poor. He went towards the minorities. He went towards the sinners. He went towards those individuals we wouldn't go anywhere near because of what they looked like on the outside, or the rumors and stories we hear about them, or even because their opinions are just too radical for our own. AKA... FEAR. He wasn't afraid to do this. He didn't care about his reputation or status. He moved towards those people out of quite possibly the greatest thing in the world: LOVE. You see, throughout much of the Old Testament, it was hammered for many centuries the Jewish laws and statutes to serving God. You had to follow these rules down to the very last detail. If anything goes wrong, chances you could end up displeasing God and being killed on the spot. But the problem with these ordinances and guidelines is that the importance of following these rules took precedence over the simple acts of being compassionate and showing kindness to others. In other words, the idea of following the rules in order to show that you're worthy to go to heaven and having this image of perfection was more important than being vulnerable and showing love. Many of the scribes and Pharisees would often boast aloud that they're giving huge sums of money to the poor and assert their dominance over the peasants through their learned contributions to the church. But they all lacked love, and it would doom them for many years to come. Hence, when the New Testament was written, Jesus Christ turned the world around through the importance of loving one another as well as God, and that he was willing to carry the weight of all of our sins on the cross as the greatest act of love. "Greater love hath no one than he who lays down his life for his friends." That message of love continued on for many generations. And yet, there were still the Jews who preferred to stay rooted to one spot because they didn't want to give up what was taught to them or even listen to the gospels in order to gain what God wanted to give them. In fact, I recently found a post that perfectly illustrates why people are leaving the church, and it's best summed up in this way:

People are leaving Christianity and the church altogether because they can't possibly stomach the idea of loving EVERYONE, including the blacks, Latinx, Jewish, immigrants, gays, lesbians, transgenders, non binaries, feminists, liberals, conservatives, and every single person under the sun. People are leaving because they don't want to help the poor when they can't possibly risk parting with all of their wealth and material goods. People are leaving because the command to show compassion towards those in need is too much for them when they would rather focus on themselves. In layman's terms, people are leaving because they're unwilling to ACT LIKE JESUS, who loved everyone, took care of the sick, clothed the naked, fed the hungry, forgave the sinners, encouraged vulnerability and compassion, and even took the time to remind us to trust in God. For many people who are leaving, that is simply too much for them, and they would rather belong to a church community or sect that focuses on loving themselves or people who only think and act like themselves, and not focus on loving others as Jesus did. They're unwilling to turn the world around like Jesus did. I get it. It's a challenge to love one another, even from a distance. But my pastor put it best this way in one of his recent sermons: "Unfortunately for us, I don't think we often keep the main thing the main thing. I don't think we keep Jesus central in our lives. I think we often make the superficial the fundamental. I think today, particularly, we are making the superficial the fundamental." We're relying on the superficial things - people in power or of celebrity status, material objects (i.e. laptops, phones, iPads, etc.), money, and so much more - as the answer to our prayers and the only way we can ever find that love we seek so badly. And yet, when we meet others who are different from us and make it known, we tend to run away from them because of their beliefs and clinging to the superficial people and things that make them who they are. My pastor said it best this way: What would you do if I told you in 2016 and in 2020 I voted for Donald Trump? What would you do if I told you in 2016 I voted for Hilary Clinton, and in 2020 I voted for Bernie? What would you do if I told you that CRT (Critical Race Theory) is integral to putting our nation back together today? What would you do if I told you that CRT is ripping our nation and our church apart? What would you do if I told you I think mask mandates are foolish? What would you do if I told you I think mask mandates are saving lives and you are a fool to not wear one? What would you do if I told you I have a Black Lives Matter sign in my backyard? What would you do if I told you that I cannot support Black Lives Matter? Don't you see? We have made something, whatever it might be, preeminent over Christ. And by doing so, we are letting it control how we treat others who think, look, and act differently from us. If someone said any of these questions or more, we immediately break off the relationship and run away from them, when we should be running towards them in love. We're not willing to listen to one another and have the healthy arguments and continue to embrace each other in love and understanding. It's causing us not to act like Jesus, who loved everyone and made God central over His life. And it's a disease that's been spreading for many centuries all because we're unwilling to take the time time listen, understand, bridge our beliefs and teachings, and love one another. We're unwilling to move towards the people who we think are inferior to us because of their upbringing, beliefs, ideas, and opinions. But here's one more thing to remember: Go back up to the very first picture of this post, and read it over. We've pretty much delved into the first lie, that if someone has a different lifestyle from ours we must hate them or fear them. But what about the second lie? The one where we have to absolutely agree with just about everything they say or do out of love? Both lies are utter nonsense! (I'd use a different term, but I am a polite lady, after all.) If we were to agree with everything another person says or do, we'd never be married. My pastor said that, not me! We don't always have to agree with everything. That's not how life works. I reiterate, we are all INDIVIDUALS. We all come from unique backgrounds and walk different paths, and our experiences are what makes us special. We're not meant to have the exact same goal or journey in our lifetimes. Nor should we consistently agree with everything a person says or does out of love. Or even sometimes fear, if the relationship is an uneasy, or hostile, one. You shouldn't have to compromise your morals and convictions in order to show love to one another, whether that's by fearing and/or hating the other person, or by agreeing with everything they say or do. It's not healthy. But there are going to be times when you just have to establish those boundaries, especially out of love and your well-being. In this case, the best thing to assert what is okay and what isn't okay in a patient, understanding, and kind manner. The way NOT to do this is through a long text or angry, obscenities-ridden phone call. Personally, face-to-face conversations work out the best, but if it's not possible, an email will do as well. You have to let the other person know how you're feeling and what that person did that made you uncomfortable and why it's not okay. It shouldn't be the blame game or make it all about you. Take the time to listen to each other and give each other plenty of space to process during and after the conversation. If either of you have to clarify what was said or done, ask nicely. If it works out that you both will do your best to respect the boundaries and needs of the other person in order to continue the relationship, that's great. But if it doesn't work out, show gratitude for what the other person has taught you in the short time of your relationship, but also be respectful and understand that each of you is different and that you're not meant to agree with everything all the time. And it's okay to grieve over a lost relationship. It's not easy ending one that may have been so good. But it's also not easy to have your boundaries crossed to the point where shouting matches and misunderstandings occur on a frequent basis. That's happened to me too many times, and I'm still grieving over those lost relationships because I was unwilling to take the time to share what made me uncomfortable in a patient and understanding manner, and let my feelings speak for me which made me go out of control. But if they're unwilling to listen to you or even resort to name calling and shouting "you're wrong," the best thing to do in this case is to say you won't tolerate being shouted at or treated in this way. If we can't act like adults, then I have nothing more to say to you. That's all. You don't have to stoop to their level in order to get your point across. Sometimes silence is the best option if someone else is acting like a fool and won't listen to reason. The fact that you're establishing those boundaries and asserting how you feel is quite the step, indeed. In fact, taking the time to see one another clearly and knowing who we are as human beings is a huge way to turn the world around. (I usually don't bring up topics like this in my posts, but when the inspiration and the words come, I enjoy sharing them with you in a way that is loving, patient, and understanding. Like so many things, these are my observations and experiences, and you are welcome to disagree with me and even share your own experiences with me and see if we can bridge our understandings together. But I won't tolerate any name-calling, offensive language, or derogatory comments. I don't appreciate being talked down or disrespected. The best thing to do if you feel like you have to be this way is to walk away and say nothing at all. If you cannot do that, I will block your comments. It's as simple as that.)

Before I go to far, I want to say something important. I'm not forcing you to become a Christian, believe in God, or even follow an organized religion. If you don't feel like it will serve you well or had some bad experiences with being in the church, I understand. I'm not offended. Some of you out there believe that God should be central in our government without much choice or science involved. Others believe that God has no place in our politics, or even our way of life. You already know that I'm a Christian, but I also know that all of you reading this have opinions and beliefs that aren't God-centered, and choose not to be in an organized religion. I respect that. I'm not the one to tell you that you're going to hell for whatever you believe in. All I ask is that do your best to be the good person you were meant to become, and quite possibly adopt an attitude of Jesus Christ in this way: By loving EVERYONE.

No hesitations. No prejudices. No fear. No hate. And always take the time to be compassionate and help one another, like Jesus Christ has done.


And especially trust in a higher power, whether that's God, fates, or whatever spiritual being you believe in. The people, objects, or even careers won't bring you the same fulfillment that a higher power will. But loving others doesn't mean agreeing with everything a person says or does, or moving away from them in fear or hate because of the different opinions and lifestyles a person has. That's not healthy or right by any stretch of the imagination. You are allowed to establish boundaries for your well-being. And also remember that even if there are conflicting beliefs, there are ways to have a healthy relationship with the other individual without running away from them. Move towards love, not run away from it. You can truly turn the world around if you give into love. You're probably wondering why I'm using the phrase "turn the world around" so much. Well, if you've ever heard of an artist by the name of Harry Belafonte, you would recognize that the sentence is in fact a title of one of his most beloved songs. Mr. Belafonte got the idea from a trip to Guinea in Africa, where deep into the country he met a storyteller who talked about the fire, the water, and the mountain. All of them are all connected, just like us as human beings. All of us are here for a very short time, and in that time, there really isn't any difference in any of us if we take the time understand one another. And the lingering questions of "do you know who I am" and "do I know who you are" can help us "see one another clearly" and understand that we are all a part of the earth, no matter where we come from. This holiday season, take the time to remember who you are, who we ALL are, and actually see one another clearly. No fear, hatred, prejudice, or anything negative allowed. See one another in LOVE. And so, for the last time... Turn the world around. We come from the fire, living in the fire Go back to the fire, turn the world around We come from the fire, living in the fire Go back to the fire, turn the world around

We come from the water, living in the water Go back to the water, turn the world around We come from the water, living in the water Go back to the water, turn the world around

We come from the water, living in the water Go back to the water, turn the world around We come from the water, living in the water Go back to the water, turn the world around

We come from the mountain, living on the mountain Go back to the mountain, turn the world around We come from the mountain, living on the mountain Go back to the mountain, turn the world around

We come from the mountain, living on the mountain Go back to the mountain, turn the world around We come from the mountain, living on the mountain Go back to the mountain, turn the world around

Oh, oh, so is life Ah, ha, so is life Oh, oh, so is life Ah, ha, so is life

Do you know who I am? Do I know who you are? See, we one another clearly Do we know who we are?

Do you know who I am? Do I know who you are? See, we one another clearly Do we know who we are?

Do you know who I am? Do I know who you are? See, we one another clearly Do we know who we are?

Oh, oh, so is life Ah, ha, so is life Oh, oh, so is Abatiwaha Ah, so is life

Oh, oh, so is life Ah, ha, so is life Oh, oh, so is Abatiwaha Ah, ha, so is life

Do you know who I am? Do I know who you are? See, we one another clearly Do we know who we are?

Water make the river, river wash the mountain Fire make the sunlight, turn the world around Heart is of the river, body is the mountain Spirit is the sunlight, turn the world around

We are of the spirit, truly of the spirit Only can the spirit turn the world around We are of the spirit, truly of the spirit Only can the spirit turn the world around

Do you know who I am? Do I know who you are? See, we one another clearly Do we know who we are?

Do you know who I am? Do I know who you are? See, we one another clearly Do we know who we are?

Do you know who I am? Do I know who you are? See, we one another clearly Do we know who we are?

Oh, oh, so is life Ah, ha, so is life Oh, oh, so is Abatiwaha Ah, so is life

Oh, oh, so is life Ah, ha, so is life Oh, oh, so is Abatiwaha Ah, so is life

Oh, oh, so is life Ah, ha, so is life Oh, oh, so is Abatiwaha Ah, ha, so is life

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