It’s Yule! I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday! Merry Yule from A Witchy Life!
It’s Yule! I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday! Merry Yule from A Witchy Life!
In America, many people are not taught to honor or respect elders. It depends on the culture your parents are from or the culture you were raised in, I suspect. Those whose parents or grandparents come from cultures outside the US tend to have a sense of elder respect. Those whose parents or grandparents are “all American” and do not have a connection to a culture that has a tradition of honoring elders or ancestors tend to have trouble with the concept of honoring and respecting elders. Other cultures have traditions of caring for older people, they have systems of belief and traditions to fall back on and support the idea of respecting other people. But what I see in America so often is a veneration of the young and the powerful–so when you lose youth and power, you are seen as just an old person waiting for death, and why should anyone respect you or honor you or care for you? Our American culture has a serious problem in that respect.
Sadly, this belief is playing out in my own family. On my father’s side, respect for elders is still very much alive and well. We come from very British ancestry, and some of those attitudes and traditions have been continued over the years. On my mother’s side, however, the traditions and connection to culture and tradition have been lost, and that is where I see the problems of elder abuse.
I am, of course, doing my own separate research about elder abuse in an effort to help prevent what I see as a great wrong. Has anyone else dealt with elder abuse before? This is the first time it has come up for me, and my family and I are struggling with how to deal with it and correct it.
My great-aunt is, technically speaking, being abused. Her son and daughter-in-law frequently deny her medical care, despite the fact that she is 80 and suffering from memory loss and is currently sick. They leave her with a baby and a mentally handicapped young woman with the mental capacity of a five-year-old. These people, my cousins, have far too many animals, something like ten cats and two or three dogs, cooped up in the house; they pose a hazard to my great-aunt as she could trip over them. My great-aunt’s bedroom is at the top of an unlit rickety staircase. It’s almost as if they want her to trip and die. I hate to think such an uncharitable thought of my cousins, but after the way they have treated my sweet old great-aunt, a woman of kindness and love, I can’t help but think ill of them.
Elder abuse, like many other kinds of abuse, is often swept under the table and under reported. The most recent number I could find was from the National Elder Abuse Incidence Study of 1998, which said that “at least half a million older persons in domestic settings were newly abused, neglected, and/or exploited, or experienced self-neglect, in 1996. The study also found that for every reported incident of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self-neglect, approximately five go unreported.”
I wanted to post this story in order to help raise some awareness. It is sad when a person has lived for so long and experienced so much only to end up in a situation where their caretaker refuses proper care.
You can also see the official website of the National Center on Elder Abuse.
I think just about everyone who haunts the Internet at least once a day (or just haunts Facebook) has seen or heard of Rick Perry’s “Strong” campaign ad. I hesitated in talking about it here… after all, it’s been discussed to death by everyone else… but there was an aspect of his message that struck me and which I haven’t seen mentioned much elsewhere.
The topic of revising history tends to bring up an “us versus them” mentality. One group of people accuses another of (willfully or not) revising historical facts to meet a certain worldview or belief. From what I’ve seen, this most often gets turned into a “us versus the fundy Christians.” I will not be allowing that sort of talk here, so let’s go in a slightly different direction. It’s true that many fundamental religious organizations, regardless of denomination or faith, will ignore certain historical facts or twist facts in order to support their worldview. That can apply to almost any worldview. There are those who say that America was founded on Christian principles and has always been a Christian nation. There are those who say massacres and genocides in various countries didn’t happen (most notably, those who say the Holocaust never happened). There are those who claim that their religion is the only religion to ever exist and be correct, despite mountains of evidence that this simply is not the case.
Why am I applying this to a Pagan blog, and how does this relate to Rick Perry? Well, in Perry’s ad, he makes reference to America’s “religious heritage” and how “faith made America strong,” with the clear implication that the faith and religion he’s speaking of is [his brand of] Christianity. However, the United States’s religious heritage encompasses far more than just Christianity. It includes the spirituality of the Native Americans, who were here long before the White Man landed; the Puritan faith of the Pilgrims; the Catholic and Protestant religions of the many European immigrants over the years; Judaism; the African faiths of the slaves who were shipped to America’s shores and the brand of Christianity that developed from slave culture; the brand of Christianity of Hispanics and Latinos, who bring different traditions and histories from their cultures; the Buddhist and Tao and Shinto of Asian immigrants; the Islam of immigrants from the Middle East; the atheists and agnostics and deists; and finally, the brands of Pagan spirituality that has been hidden for so many years.
America includes so much more than just Christianity, or one sect of Christianity, that for people to say America is or was a Christian nation is ridiculous and patently false. Yet these beliefs are clung to so strongly, and perpetuated by people like Rick Perry, that they still survive. Why? Some of it is probably an unwillingness to acknowledge truth, and so create your own truth. That’s all well and good, but not when you’re someone running for president of a nation like this.
Such revisionist history can be harmful. Not only does it deny historical fact, but it denies the past foundations upon which we all stand. And when such a person is running for president, what does that imply about how he or she would treat those not of that faith? Relating this back to Pagans, if America is a Christian nation, what does that mean for our rights, our freedoms? There are people who say that freedom of religion only means freedom for their religion, i.e., Christianity. While many believe this to be untrue, it still brings up the question of what to do about revisionist histories, especially when they are in a national spotlight and people around the country are listening and maybe even believing in what that person is saying at the time. While Rick Perry’s ad has been parodied and ridiculed across the Internet and television, that doesn’t mean that another person spouted similar revisionist history will be equally ridiculed by the masses.
Keep educating people. Resist the temptation to let those who revise history slide. These things need to be corrected. Though I don’t advocate public humiliation, Rick Perry is a national figure and should have known what he was getting into with his ad, and public humiliation certainly worked in getting people to laugh at his message instead of believe it. Sometimes, laughter really is the best method, though I prefer education, myself.
It’s that time of year again. Winter. Cold and snow and ice. Darkness and weak sunshine. Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanza and Yule. Lights in the dark.
It’s the time of Yule and the time to usher in the return of the light. It’s the time of the (calendrical) new year and the time to start looking forward to new beginnings.
Winter is a great time for introspection. Most people, I think, do turn inward during this time of year and think about many things: what happened this past year, what they want to happen in the next year, the festivities and family and friends. This time of year is naturally the time when people begin to examine, even if only a little bit, the internal workings of their minds and souls. It’s necessary–we all need to do that at some point, and winter naturally brings those opportunities about, since many of us stay indoors from the cold and sit around looking for something to do.
And the new year gives us hope, gives us a time to bring about new changes in our lives, to think about the wonderful things we want to happen in the coming year and then, if we’re so inclined, to make them happen. Winter is the hibernation, the “death” of the old before the birth of the new. We say good-bye to the old year and everything that happened and turn bright faces full of hope to the new year.
Winter, and especially this part of winter, is a time to take stock of everything that has happened previously. What were the things that made me happy? What made me unhappy? What moments this year were really bad for me, and what was really good? If you’re doing serious reflection and self-examination, then you can ask bigger, harder questions: what behaviors this year hindered me in getting what I want? What did I do that didn’t work? Did I do anything that hurt me or others? What do I want to change about myself or my life?
Such questions can bring into perspective the grand opportunity that is the new year. I’m not talking about making new year’s resolutions–I don’t know about you, but I was never able to keep mine! Most people don’t. No, I mean that since this is the time of the new year, then it’s the time to bring forward those thoughts of what you need to let go of and what you want to bring in. What behaviors, activities, habits, people, jobs, etc., need to be let go? What do you need to bring in?
The new year is an opportunity and reminder only, but the introspection and the questioning are better suited to all of winter rather than just the week or night of the new year holiday. That way, by the time the season of new growth and birth and fertility comes around (ahem, spring), you will be ready to plant the seeds for that new growth having already shed the things you know no longer work. You will be able to feed the inner light with those things that you need, rather than dampen yourself by trying to make things you no longer need continue to work for you.
Yuletide is a wonderful time. As we grow closer to the holiday, I hope you all will enjoy the season and remember the light.
I went walking at one of my favorite places, Brookside Gardens, at the end of November. I took some interesting shots of what the gardens look like after the abundance and blossom of spring and summer have faded, but before the starkness of winter has fully set in. Enjoy!