I gave some more thought to all these latest episodes of senseless violence. I listen to debate over debate about whether stricter gun laws or taking guns away altogether is a logical answer. I think there are many factors coming into play that most people don’t even consider. Despite how people might respond, I feel the need to offer my two cents. By all means, my words are not right or wrong, they are only my personal opinion. Do I think guns are a problem? You bet I do but guns cannot kill without someone pulling the trigger. We cannot deny that people are the biggest problem. I believe you could take away every single gun but as long as there is still a lack of respect among people, this world will remain unchanged. It physically pains me that someone’s beliefs or opinions hold more value than another human life. How can people kill others just because they think a different way or live a different way? I will tell you how. People have become consumed with themselves. They are selfish and entitled to do whatever they want, even if that means taking another life. The worst part of all is there is no remorse. We have desensitized people to the value of life and the significance of how each and every person contributes in his or her way. We are made to be different and choose a lifestyle that comfortably fits. We all matter but we live in a world of contradictions. The line between black and white has faded away and we are lost in a sea of gray. I can’t ignore the All Lives Matter theme that has been so popular over the past year. What does that mean exactly? I’ve heard it altered many ways. Black lives matter, white lives matter, cops lives matter. As long as we feel the need to insert an adjective before lives, we are in serious trouble. We separate ourselves into groups and we exclude groups that make us uncomfortable or who don’t fit into our little niche. So what do we mean when we say “All lives matter?”All lives who agree with our own way of living matter? Are there exceptions or is the meaning so precise that there is no room for misunderstanding? Why am I bringing this up? Do I think the two problems are connected. Yes, I really do. Our words imply one thing and our actions imply another. I believe there is an ongoing lack of respect among people and for human life itself. If all lives mattered, there would be no abortion but we think a woman has the right to decide which lives do. Look at the death penalty. When someone kills another human being, in some states the way we deal with that issue is by killing them. How in the hell does that even make sense? I am going to punish you for killing someone and how am I going to do that? By killing you. So killing is wrong when you do it but when I sentence you to death and you are killed, then it’s okay. So which lives matter? The lives of people who do not commit heinous crimes? The lives of the tiny babies who we decide we want to keep around? The truth is lives matter when we say they do. This disrespect, disregard and dismissal of the value for each and every life because of the way we define it makes every life seem a little less significant. This lack of appreciation for the significance of each and every life along with mean, violent, crazy people who lack moral value and self control with the addition of guns is slowly destroying humanity one day at a time. If we believe we can determine which lives matter then we can continue to pick and choose whether it’s by abortion, guns, the death penalty or any other way we see fit to take that life away. This is so much more than what we see superficially. Guns don’t make people crazy, but having no regard for another’s life gives us the idea that we can take it or save it whenever and however we see fit. Don’t agree that the majority do not respect people with different views? Watch our politicians, turn on tv, pull up Facebook and look through some of the comments. Is this what respect looks like these days? Someone flips you the bird because you piss them off for driving the speed limit. Is that respect? Go to any Starbucks counter and watch how people treat the workers. “I need a cup of coffee.” You NEED one? People feel better or inferior to others. The inferior ones get swallowed up and the better ones? They are nasty, pushy bullies. Not everyone will agree and that’s okay but it is something worth considering. Is one directly linked to the other? Who really knows but I believe everything is connected excluding the people. That is the part that is truly devastating. Feeling connected is determined by too many things, the wrong things. Feeling connected is conditional and some people will sell their souls. The color of skin, the same religion, the same economical or educational level. Is that what we’ve come? We are becoming more superficial and pompous every single day. It is a travesty and I do my best to add kindness and compassion and love to a world that desperately needs it. Will that be enough? Will taking away guns be enough? How about stopping abortion and outlawing the death penalty? What will it take? Better yet, what are you willing to do?
Next week, we will be celebrating 17 years of marriage. With so many marriages falling apart around me, I can’t help but wonder why mine is still going strong. The fact is, every couple has challenges. There will be good times, difficult times and those times that will certainly make or break you as a couple. There will be a flicker, moments when the spark you initially felt is very much alive and moments you can’t stand being in the same room. But why do some couples make it and other couples don’t?
If I had to pick just one determining factor that ultimately leads to the success of marriage, it would be commitment. Not the kind of commitment that keeps one faithful but rather a stronger commitment to the relationship and less commitment to self. It’s obvious that people have become very selfish. They want it all. The trick is wanting the relationship to work more than having a hot body or a successful career. It’s purposely choosing the relationship over a hobby or friends or anything else that can drive a wedge in between. Does that mean you shouldn’t go to the gym or take pride in your job? Does it mean you should give up your friends for the sake of your spouse? Of course it doesn’t. It just means that your main priority has got to be your relationship in a time of record divorce and infidelity. The key is putting the majority of time into your spouse and relationship and less time into the passions that drive you apart. When your time and focus is greater on any one thing more than it is your relationship, you can be sure the death of your relationship will soon be near.
I know many couples who get caught up in anniversary gifts. They want the fancy box and the pretty bow. They hold the value of their relationship dependent on whats in the box. For so many years, people will ask, what did he give you for your anniversary. I just smile to myself. The gifts we give each year can’t be put in a box. Every year we give the gift of respect, friendship, support, encouragement and the most important gift of all unconditional love. There is no greater, more satisfying feeling in the world than knowing someone loves you just the way you are, without conditions. There is no greater gift than knowing someone supports your dreams and works along side you to make them come true. There is nothing more special than knowing the person you married is the one who loves and accepts you more than anyone else in the great big world. Love says it’s okay when you make a mistake instead of listing the ways you create your own problems. Love listens and understands when everyone else tries to give advice. Love is there in the hard times and smiling along side you in the good times. Love is a gift that keeps on giving even when the relationship seems hopeless and lost. Love does not criticize, it emphathizes. Love does not blame, it searches for solution. Love does not resent, it always forgives regardless how big the offense.
What do you think leads to a lasting relationship? What is most important to you?
Every time I turn around I hear about another friend separated or getting a divorce. I am very naive because I believed if you could make it past 15 years and stay married into your fourties then the rest would be an easy glide downhill. What is it about this particular age that gives people the courage to separate? Is it that life is pretty much half over and we are looking for a new exciting adventure? Is it that the spark has gone out and we are searching to replace it with a new love disguised as lust and physical attraction? Is it that the relationship is disappointing and the only interaction is a chance passing in the hall and we cannot live like that anymore? Do we put our time and effort into someone we think is a better fit while we bide our time and get the courage to really go?
For the ones who do decide to stay, what is it that keeps them together? Does one think I’ve invested all these years so I cannot give up now? Does one decide that they will never be completely happy and it’s safer to stay in a mediocre relationship than starting over in a new one? Is it the guilt and obligation of having kids? Is it not believing you are lovable or deserving of someone who could really make you happy? Is it believing that okay is good enough?
The truth is, as we get older, most of us grow. The expectations we had in our early twenties change as time goes by. Our wants and our needs change also. We cannot easily overlook those things about our spouse that drive us crazy. We no longer appreciate the good qualities our partner brings to the relationship because we are so unhappy. We want to feel that we are the most important person in our partners life and not play second fiddle to a job or TV. We play our spouses flaws over and over in our mind until the list becomes too much to stand. Or we stay and simply give up the dream we once had of a perfect soulmate and a perfect marriage. We comfortably settle as time slowly ticks away.
What do you think motivates someone to leave and someone to stay? What age is the most common time you see your friends move towards a divorce? Is marriage what you expected it to be? Are you truly happy? Do you secretly wonder what if? I’d love to hear your opinion.