Wednesday, June 23, 2010

They Plead Safety First, but in This Case, Stupidity First?

I am amazed that anyone would even consider removing the American flag in schools. This link takes you to a poll by Fox to determine what the people think about such a move.

Let's just go over a few common sense thoughts before you vote.

• This is America. If you're offended by the flag that represents our country, then why don't you move to a different country where you aren't offended by the flag? Seems like common sense to me. (Probably because in most countries you don't have the right to be anywhere near as vocal about what you believe as you do here.)

• If you are an American citizen, this flag is your flag now. Period.

• Offense is a choice. That's why two people can view the same issue either with offense or without it. If you choose to be offended by a flag, that's your problem, not anyone else's.

• The school's job is to teach and to enforce discipline. If a student has broken the rules, expel him or her until he or she decides to comply with school rules. Do not remove our national flag so you don't have to correct inappropriate behavior. That's about the same as the parent in the store with the screaming kid buying candy to get him to be quiet.

• Political correctness is not correct. In most cases, it is the cowardly majority giving into the terrorist minority who is throwing a tantrum to get their way. That's why we have less freedom in America today than we did yesterday, and why the outlook for tomorrow isn't good.

I'd like to see an America that uses a little common sense. Just to set the record straight, here are some things that I'm for. Some of these have to do with the issue above. Some just deal with the erosion of general freedoms and I'm getting them off my chest. I believe we should:

• Display the flag of our country prominently and correctly.

• Educate people so they realize that the separation of church and state was originally designed to keep the state from controlling the church rather than to keep God out of government. (I'm amazed at how many people don't know this.)

• Not rewrite the text books to leave out important information and quotes that include God.

• Promote only LEGAL immigration. (After all, that's how most of us got here, including me.) If you didn't follow the rules to get in, back you go. Either do something to fix the country you are a citizen of, or get used to it being awful there. America didn't turn out the way it is because no one was willing to pay a price for freedom.

• Have a strong military. You just have to look at history to figure this one out. If no one had listened to the pacifists, Hitler's war would have been a contained conflict rather than a World War and millions and millions of people would not have died, plus, we might not have had to resort to an atom bomb to get Japan to back off.

• Allow ALL differing opinions. You may think that we already do that, but it's changing fast. You're freedoms are being legislated away. You don't have to agree with one thing in this post, and I won't think any less of you for it. (If you hate everything I've said up to now, the good news for you is that I'm the one who will probably be silenced and not you. If that doesn't bother you, though, it should.) It is not hateful to disagree with someone else's opinions. It's normal. We're all different, and we do not all think alike. We have laws to protect us from people who use criminal actions to inflict their opinion on others. Beyond that, think and talk as you like.

While you can, that is.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Big Storm

Last night we had a big storm. It took out electric to 250,000 people in the Chicago area, knocked down well over 1100 trees, and had winds which were close to 80 mph in some areas. After it was over, one of our chickens wandered out from under the bushes by the house where she had been waiting out the storm. She looked wet and bedraggled for a chicken, and the first thought that came to me was a line from one of Jesse Duplantis's funny videos.

"I never thought I'd drown standing up."

That poor little hen had to take her chances out in the storm while I was comfortably watching it through our big front window. That's a little like what happens when you write a story. You write your book from the comfort and safety of your desk while your characters struggle through the story, bedraggled, worn, and barely alive. Circumstances progress from bad to worse until it looks like there's no way they can possibly make it out alive. Then, you, great author that you are, come to their rescue to orchestrate a perfect ending that pulls them out of a fate worse than death at the last second. When the protagonist gasps out a thank you. You look modest.

"It was nothing, but if you think that was something, just wait until the sequel."

Your protagonist pales and passes out while you boot up the computer.

The thing about storms is that after you pick up the pieces, there's no guarantee there won't be another one rolling through later.

Monday, June 14, 2010

And the Winner Is...

Not me. Not this time, anyway. The Highlights for Children's 2010 Fiction Contest is over for this year, and I just got a letter in the mail announcing the three winners. I can't wait to read the three stories. One thing I love about Highlights is their quality fiction. I'm sure these three winning stories were good ones.

And yet, I felt like a winner too, because my form letter from Highlights had a little note scrawled in the bottom right hand.

Dear Ms. MacKinney,
We like your writing . Please try us again!
Best wishes,
Joƫlle Dujardin

Just a few words, but great encouragement for a writer. Editors have zero time. Likewise, associate editors are busier than proverbial bees. A hand written note means a lot. So I'm dedicating this post to Ms. Dujardin. Yeah, I didn't win this year, but it made my day to know that you enjoyed my story. I felt like a winner, because what greater pleasure is there for a writer beyond knowing that she wrote something that provided reading enjoyment for a reader? Thank you for spending a little of your valuable time on that short note.

Anniversaries and other things

This weekend my husband and I celebrated 22 years of marriage. We had fun, going out to eat with our youngest who happened to have a reading program certificate for the restaurant we chose. I'm glad we took her with. She was very entertaining, and it was nice to get to know her alone without three older kids competing for equal time. The next night all the kids were gone but our son, and we had a movie and popcorn night with him. Again, it was nice to connect with only one child at a time, and to really see what he's about.

Challenge to you parents for the month: Take just one of your children out and do something alone with just that child, if you possibly can. Or ship the rest off to friends' houses and stay home with one. And spend time with that child. It will bless your kids, and you'll get to know them in a different context.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Daughter Starts Driving School Tomorrow!

Hey, this is exciting news. Do I have to say more?