Children of Shame – A Documentary

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The documentary Children of Shame exposes atrocities committed at a home for unwed mothers in Tuam, Ireland.  The home was founded in 1925 and closed in 1961.

At the time, religion was an important part of the Irish culture.  Purity was viewed as an essential trait and failure to live up to that standard brought extreme shame, so unwed mothers were sent to special homes.

The unwed mothers were forced to live and work in these homes against their will.  They were treated as criminals, even though fornication was not considered a legal crime.

The babies could be put up for adoption by the home, regardless of the mother’s desire to keep her child.  Children remaining in the home were treated poorly.  They were malnourished, abused, and did not receive appropriate medical care.  This resulted in a mortality rate for babies born out of wedlock that was six times higher than the norm.

Legislating morality has been a hot topic in the United States.  For example: should gay marriage be legalized and should birth control be easily available to all women.

However, stories like this one remind me of the dangers of strictly legalizing morality.  The appearance of purity can become more important than people.  The end result is evil acts are committed to hide immorality.

Thoughts on Immigration

Immigration has been a hot topic lately.  I understand why people frown on those that come to this country illegally.  They are often seen as criminals.  However, I cannot fault someone for wanting a better life and for being willing to risk their own lives to provide for their family.
Coming into this country illegally can be extremely dangerous.  People have died when their boat capsized, or from dehydration in the desert.  There is also the possibility of being shot by border patrol agents (official and unofficial).  Yet these people keep coming in hopes of a better future.
Many of them chose the illegal route, because coming into the country legally is not within the realm of possibilities.  The amount of money they would need to do this may even exceed what they would earn in an entire lifetime.
I think immigration reform should focus on a merit system.  People come and apply for citizenship.  They are monitored for a number of years to see if they maintain employment, increase their education or marketable skills, do volunteer work, and stay out of trouble.  This gives people a way to immigrate without having to break any laws.

What are your thoughts on immigration?

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Politically Correct Bedtime Stores

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The book Politically Correct Bedtime Stores by James Fin Garner is hilarious and written in what I thought was a tactful manner.

Here are a few examples:

The Big Bad Wolf told Little Red Riding Hood it was not safe for her to walk alone in the woods.  Her response:

I find your sexist remark offensive in the extreme, but I will ignore it because of your traditional status as an outcast from society, the stress of which has caused you to develop you own, entirely valid worldview.

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The three codependent goats named Gruff decided to travel up the mountainside, so “they did not overgraze their valley and kept their ecological footprint as small as possible.”

However, they had to cross a bridge that was home to a “hairy, dirt-accomplished, and odor-enhanced” troll.

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Instead of helping the city of Hamelin by removing rats, the Pied Piper was hired to remove the residents of the trailer park.

The trailer park on the edge of Hamelin was a civic embarrassment.  Not only was it a terrible eye-sore, with its rusted pickup trucks and trash heaps in every backyard.  Within it dwelled some of the most unregenerate and irredeemable people you could ever imagine – murders of non domestic animals, former clients of the correctional system, and off-road bikers.  With their plastic daisy pinwheels, loud music, and drunken weekend brawls, they sent a shudder through every respectable person in town.

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Finding Common Ground on Earth Day

It seems our culture can turn anything into an argument, fight, or protest.  Global warming, climate change, and recycling are polarizing issues.

Maybe we can find some common ground.  Maybe we can learn to compromise for our own personal benefit.  Maybe we can agree, breathing in fresh air feels better than breathing in smog.  Maybe we can all learn to enjoy streets and parks that are not covered in trash or litter.

I think we should be able to work together and clean our environment, regardless of our religious beliefs and political ideations.  Having a clean place to live benefits all of us, so let’s stop fighting and start cleaning.

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Happy Earth Day

The Ancient Guide to Modern Life

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Natalie Haynes is the author of, “The Ancient Guide to Modern Life.”  In the book, she talks about ancient philosophy, modern philosophy, their similarities, and how we can apply those ideas to our own lives.

In the section covering politics, Natalie Haynes said:

“Why stand outside something with a placard when you could be changing it from within?  The Athenians should inspire us to become school governors, patient representatives, local councillors, and members of Parliament.  They should persuade us to stop shrugging and sighing when we could instead be improving our lot.”

I am guilty of complaining about social problems and then doing nothing to improve the situation.  How can I expect others to fix something, when I am not willing to do any of the work?

I know I can do better.  I know I can help change things.  It is time to stop sitting around and complaining about everything.  It is time to get up and get to work.

To the Letter by Simon Garfield

In an age like ours, which is not given to letter writing, we forget what an important part it used to play in people’s lives.  – Anatole Broyard

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The book, To the Letter, gives a brief overview of the history of written correspondence.  Simon Garfield explains how the development of a postal service, within a nation, was a sign of prosperity and future success.

The book also has samples of letters written by famous individuals and letters written by average people during major historic events.

According to Simon Garfield:

  • There is an intrinsic integrity about letters that is lacking from other forms of written communication.
  • At a time when the decline of letter writing appears to by irreversible, “To the Letter” is a rallying cry to put pen to paper and create a form of expression, emotion, and tactile delight we may clasp to our heart.