Monday, March 28, 2005

And Justice For All

What exactly is injustice?

Is it when the guy in front of you in the Express lane sneaks in a 13th item instead of the regulated 12?

Or perhaps it is when you judiciously insert the appropriate coinge into a vending machine only to find the must have bag of Cool Ranch Doritos get stuck on the way down?

Maybe you are like me and you see injustice in the person speeding past you on the freeway and you think "If that were me, I'd have a ticket by now"?

I'm afraid Scripture defines injustice differently. I recently heard someone speak from an organization that is actually doing something about injustice in the world. You know, the real, oppressive stuff that Jesus talked about. It was humbling to hear about what some people are doing to bring mercy and justice to those who have never known it.

Please follow the link below. Pray for the people involved in this work. Give them money if you can. Most of all pray that God would move his people to work to bring mercy and justice to the world.

Peace ang love to all.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

If I Ran The World

As I mentioned in my last post, my students have been learning about totalitarian dictators. In one of our class discussions we got to the question 'What would you do if you were dictator?' I explained to my students that in ancient Roman days, the role of dictator was actually an elected office. The person was elected dictator during a time of crisis, once the crisis was resolved the dictator would voluntarily surrender his power and go back to his previous life. This is dramatically different than how we view cats like Mussolini, Stalin or Hitler.

Being the narcissistic person that I am, I thought about this after class and began to make a list. So, in no particular order, here is a short list of things I would do if I were elected dictator.

Abolish the death penalty.

Outlaw abortion except for cases of incest, rape or life of the mother being in jeopardy.

Rewrite the Kyoto Protocol to make it apply to India and China, then ratify the blasted thing.

Slap a $2.00 tax on each gallon of gasoline. Use half the money for tax credits for families making under $30,000, the other half to help fund R&D for alternative, renewable fuels.

Provide tax credits to companies that are doing viable research on renewable forms of energy.

Make it illegal for Congress to give itself a pay raise. Of course, as dictator I really would not need these guys, but you get the point.

Require that all cars bought, imported, sold or made in this country achieve a corporate average fuel economy of 50 miles per gallon within 10 years of my assumption of power.

Tell the Israelis they will not get one more dime until they pull back forces and dismantle all settlements to the Green Line of 1967.

Increase pay for armed forces personell.

Rewrite the Second Amendment.

Institute the Metric system.

Make 'White-lining' by motorcycle riders illegal.( sorry, it is a pet peeve.)

End the embargo with Cuba.

Officially resume diplomatic relations with Iran.

Actually get serious about the War on Terror.

Restore the Clean Air Act.

Increase the school year to 210 days. Each day would start at 9:00 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.

Sign the Anti-Personnell Treaty.

Give tax credits to American companies that do business with Mexican companies that provide high wages and benefits to their employees. Thus encouraging the illegal immigrants to stay where they really want to be, improving their lives and the Mexican economy and saving us billions in the process by keeping a lid on the illegal immigration many people complain about.

Criminally prosecute employers, large and small that employ illegal immigrants. You can't punish the immigrant for responding to a basic need of employment. If the law is being broken, it is the emplyer breaking it, not the man or woman wanting to earn a living.

Renegotiate trade agreements with China, forcing them to institute some of the same wage and environmental laws we abide by, thus making trade with them fairer and potentially saving some American jobs.

Remove all troops from Saudi Arabia.

Require free air time for all presidential candidates regardless of political party.

Legalize Civil Unions giving gay couples the same legal rights in all matters that heterosexual married couples have. Thus ending (at least in my mind) the debate.

Personally amend the constitution to define the social and historical concept of marriage as 'between one man and one woman'. Thus preserving marriage for what it has always been and not allowing the courts the define a social institution that is as old as civilization itself.

And after all this was done, much like the Roman dictators of old, I would voluntarily relinquish my power and retire to a life of reading, writing and coffee on my patio.

If only.

Peace to all.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Just One Of Those Moments

So yesterday I am going over a new essay assignment that I gave my students. Basically it is a comparison/contrast piece where students write about the differences and similarities between Communism and Nazism in the 1930's-1940's.

After explaining the assignment I am assaulted with the usual complaints, questions about font size, due date and various queries that try my patience. At the very moment that I feel that the assignment and I are both losers one of my students ask:

Mr. Marano, why are we comparing an economic system with a political system?

And suddenly, everything is alright again. I truly love my job.

Peace and good health to all.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Of Bumps On The Head And Years Gone By

Last Friday, my oldest boy got a 'mild to severe' concussion. It happened at school towards the end of the day. The school nurse called me in my classroom. I rushed right down and picked him up.

It was scary. He was throwing up. He was dizzy. And he kept trying to go to sleep. All the danger signs. Anyway, because the school could not get a hold of my wife I was apparently the parent in charge. So I took him down to the hospital. Five hours and a CT scan later everything checked out normal, though he was on bed rest for a couple of days. Those five hours were difficult. I kept him awake. He laid his head on my lap. We kept talking about anything as long as he did not fall asleep. I held his head while he repeatedly threw up and gave him lots of water. I prayed.

If you are a parent I can guarantee the last thing you want to see is your child in a hospital gown lying in a hospital bed, throwing up and repeating that he wants go home. I saved my tears for when I got home and he was safely asleep.

My whole point in bring this up is that it got me thinking. I tell my boys often how much I love them, how much they mean to me. But I want to leave something in writing that may outlast my words. So I started writing letters. This one is for my oldest. The letter, like my parenting, is a work in progress.

I guess I’m writing this now because I’m afraid that time will play that trick it does and pass by too quickly and I won’t notice that I never did this. As I write, you are seven years old, in fact, you are sleeping right now, as is your mother and brother. I can’t believe you are seven years old. I’ve been thinking about doing this since you were a baby. I swear it was just yesterday that your mother gave birth to you. From day one, you were me. In looks, behavior, attitude, and competitiveness. I guess I should apologize. Anyway, back to the beginning. You were perfect. Born at a good weight, good size and with complicated allergies that drove your mother and I nuts. I was such a lousy father those first two years. I didn’t know what to do with you. You couldn’t talk or write or communicate with me in any way shape or form that i recognized, and that frustrated me sometimes, and I didn’t know what to do with my frustration. I was never taught how to handle frustration or anger well. I hope I didn’t pass that on to you. If I did, I’m sorry, I tried not to. Perhaps genetics is more powerful than we like to believe. Again, back to the beginning. I always loved you. At times so much I could literally feel physical pain at the thought of it. I always wanted a son and God has blessed me with two. You were first. Everything was new for me. I had such a crappy childhood you were my chance to do it all right and re-live it as I thought it always should have been. I pray that I gave you a great childhood. I tried my best and worked my hardest to do so. I read to you everyday, sang to you, took you for walks when you were ready. I loved every minute of it even when it was hard and my strength as a person was challenged. Being your father has made me a better man. Thank you.

I gave you your name. I knew what your name was going to be before I saw the first ultrasound. Your first name is Latin in origin and means ‘belonging to the Lord’ and you do. The day your mom told me she was pregnant we prayed and gave you to Him. We asked for His wisdom in raising you in a way that would honor Him and lead you to salvation in Jesus. You belong to the Lord. Live for Him and this life will be filled with blessings and contentment that the world alone cannot bring. Your middle name is Greek in origin. It means’Man’s defender’. I didn’t expect you to go out and save the world, you can’t. Jesus has already accomplished that. I chose that name because I hoped that you would use your life to better the lives of others. I hope this means something to you. You had your mother’s eyes thank goodness. I love looking at your mom. She is an amazing woman. We are lucky to have her.
From the day we brought you home you were always curious. You didn’t sleep as much as other children. When we asked the doctor about this, he said that some babies are just more alert than others and don’t sleep as much. That’s you. Alert. Curious. Observant. You always have been and still are. You started walking the day you turned ten months old and there was no stopping you from then. Soon you turned a year old and I still couldn’t believe that I was a dad. There are so many things wrong with me that I worried I was infecting you with them. I wanted to be the perfect dad. All right not perfect, but better than I had hopefully. By the time you turned two I felt like a dad. Sometimes when you were playing or sleeping I would just watch you. Stare in awe of what you are. Fall more in love with you. And hope that I was doing it all right. You were talking a bit now. You learned your alphabet by this time and your were running all over the place. It was then that your mom and I realized that we needed to buy a home. Our first home. My first home. I grew up in an apartment in a bad neighborhood. Not as bad as some, but worse than most. It was my desire, with God’s blessing, to give you more than I had, and it still is. When we first moved into the house, you just seemed to know where the backyard was and made a beeline for it. The yard was unkempt and the grass tall and green and smelled like late summer. I have this great imagine in my mind of you standing back there amongst grass nearly as tall as you. It is hard to believe that you were once so small. You still are in a safe place in my heart.

My hope is to add to it each year until he reaches 18. I'm starting one for the baby tonight. If you are still reading, thanks.

Peace to all.