Why Wonder Woman Works

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Why Wonder Woman Works: An Orthodox Christian Perspective Short

***Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t watched this film out in the theatres yet, I would caution you to bookmark this page and come back after you’ve had the opportunity to watch it.***

Self-Professed Skeptic 

I will readily admit that when I first heard about this film coming out that I initially balked at the idea of watching it.   Personally I’m not into DC or Marvel Comics in general when they’ve been put on the big screen. The idea of taking a fantasy story from 2-D paper and throwing it into a non-stop series of amped-up translations in the movie theatres for the masses to consume in order to escape the perceived monotony of their daily existence is not appealing.

Although I love the idea of strong women being portrayed in a physical manner, I prefer something that is more tangible than merely through digital special effects.

Introduction of the Audience

What finally intrigued me enough to watch this film was a result of reading a commentary article shortly after the film’s premiere by Meredith Woerner of the Los Angeles Times entitled “Why I Cried Through the Fight Scenes in ‘Wonder Woman’.” Woerner brought up the fact that there have been countless super hero films starring men and that “Wonder Woman” has captured that female power that has been missing to complement all the Batmans, Ironmans and Supermans of the past several decades. Her comments also caught my attention because personally the idea of a power chick kicking butt in a battle scene didn’t conjure visions of me weeping. Perhaps this film was worth a try after all.

I recommend reading Ms. Woerner’s piece if you haven’t already: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/herocomplex/la-et-hc-wonder-woman-crying-20170605-htmlstory.html

Quick Background on Your Blogging Author

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I am a first-generation Greek-American woman that has experienced first-hand many times over what it is to be a strong woman that has run into certain “complications”. My mother herself became a mother as a young teenager with me as her first-born. I witnessed many years of abuse inflicted on her and my mother’s eventual escape from a destructive marriage to the transforming and victorious journey of raising her three children alone as a single mother.

For myself as a busy student-athlete and teenager, it was a routine interaction for me with guys when I let them know that I couldn’t give them what they wanted—whether it was holding hands or having a date solo with me (aka no chaperones present or nearby). In fact, by the time I married my husband in the year 2000, I was still a virgin—at least until we completed our vows at the wedding ceremony, all bets were off afterwards of course!

Wonder Woman: The Setting

 This movie opens right away showing the amazing strength and flexibility of women on the mythical and hidden island of the Amazonians. If I had a favorite scene in this film it would definitely be the one that shows all the different women in their training with the young Wonder Woman (Diana) watching and mimicking in the background with fervor. I emphasize here that it was also liberating to see all sorts of body types and every woman in her own right truly beautiful in appearance and countenance.

The queen of the Amazonians is the mother of Diana and has taken care to protect her daughter from the reality of her destiny (again, spoiler alert): She was in fact a daughter of the Greek god Zeus and was created to have the ability to destroy the “fallen” god Ares (God of War). She was actually the “god-killer”, not the sword, nor the shield and such that were hidden in a tower on the paradise-like island. The details of this prophecy will all fall into place as the film’s story unfolds.

Female Power: A Possible Women’s Manifesto Reflected in “Wonder Woman” Opening Romantic Scenes

 It turns out that little Diana was instilled with a strong belief system by her mother that involved her being part of being against Ares: god of war.  The fighting spirit was inherent in her and although her mother wanted to protect her from this she eventually admitted that it was appropriate for Diana to learn how to defend herself.

Also, she was raised with a fully classical education that included books that detailed the various positions for sexual pleasure that finally concluded that although men were required for procreation, they were not needed for ultimate satisfaction.

In the film, the above information that Diana shares with the Chris Pine character known as Steve Trevor flabbergasts him. He is visually disturbed at this notion and refuses to believe it, in turn Diana literally turns away from him in their sleeping nook on the boat and does not follow the stereotypical habit of a woman deferring to the man’s opinion because he can’t change his mind on a matter. (Note: What I would refer to as the poor peacemaker complex that many women can possess.)

Further, what would have typically been a romantic scene ending with the cliché sexual intercourse finale with the hero and heroine lying beside each other on the boat ride out of the vicinity of Diana’s mythical world turned out to be a muted and sobering anticlimax. Not lost, however, was the comedic innocence of Diana asking Steve why they couldn’t sleep side by side for the moment without being married—again, turning upside-down the notion that when a man and a woman sleep in the same space they must end up having sex together.

***NOTE: I must be quick to add that although I’ve noted the sexual life of women in regards to Wonder Woman and my own personal experience, it was NOT meant to say that being one way or another in relationships takes away from women’s strength. If anything, my focus would be to say that a woman’s strength remains in her ability to control how and with whom she shares her intimacies with (as goes with men). Again, reflecting at history with rape/war and even today with the atrocities of female genital mutilation, there remains work to be done.***

 Balance Appears: Why Women and Men Do Need Each Other

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 I firmly believe that this film had the potential to turn off many people had it been too pro-woman. Inherently we all crave balance and as liberating as it is to focus on women’s respective abilities to kick butt in life, there is a peaceful rhythm when we find the feminine and masculine in harmony with the challenges we can face in our society.

This subtle but poignant undercurrent in “Wonder Woman” also made it palatable for my taste. It is pro-woman but not exclusively pro-feminine excluding the role of the masculine. In fact, I would argue that Chris Pine’s character Steve actually assists in Diana’s progressive strengthening as the Wonder Woman who takes on No Man’s Land unapologetically and with full disregard as to whether or not the men intend to support her.

Diana is driven by passion for what is good and this includes the ancient desire and urge in all of us to see any good conquer evil in the end. But by the end of this film we become very aware that Diana has matured in her overall intentions and truly what fuels her strength to fight evil is her ability to exhibit unconditional love.

Understandably the Steve Trevor character has his own drive as an undercover spy for the Allies that are fighting the Enemies in the WWI setting. In his case he is driven to fight for the greater good even if that means sacrificing himself in the process. When he watches the Amazonian women fighting and essentially defeating the invading forces on their island he immediately gains respect for them if not a bit frightened by the fact that he is far inferior to their abilities and tools.

Steve Trevor doesn’t put Diana down for her beliefs and although he challenges her by telling her about the “social norms” of the time including the fact that women are not seen in a war room discussion or cannot carry weapons, he ends up allowing her to be herself and has respect for her.

Diversity and Breaking Down of Historic Ignorance

 If I took a moment to reflect on our current society today I would have to say that the first problem I’m aware of immediately is the lack of understanding by everyone about how really diverse we really are as people here on Earth.

Namely, to attach mere colors of “black” or “white” is awful and downright backwards.   At the same time, our collective ability to avoid the gritty reality that the idea and the occurrence of slavery has been a terrible disease running through humans throughout history since the beginning of our time here and through to right now in 2017 (think underage sex trade, extremist cultures, cheap produce farm-picking or any combination) is akin to the apathy of many Americans when it comes to participating in politics and the way our government is run.

For myself the endearing and softening quality in this Wonder Woman film was the motley crew of characters that end up joining Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor to find Ares include a native American descendant (who evidently does random business transactions like shuttling people across dangerous battle lines) and a Turkish man with many amorous talents and wanderlust.

The End…and yet what’s always been and will be…in the end Love will conquer all

 This blog has given away enough of this film so I will leave my conclusion simple by declaring my approval of the standard story-closing that the “underdog” good wins out over the evil standard-bearer.

Wonder Woman is moved by at least three distinctive moments that reflect awesome sacrifice, unconditional love and a compelling sense of mercy.

One is watching the aforementioned motley crew coming together in an almost prayerful moment, as it seems imminent destruction is upon them.

The other of course is watching Steve Trevor take up the plane with the deadly gas up into the atmosphere so that the hydrogen component blows it up but away from any innocent collateral damage—sacrificing himself in the process. Intertwined in this is the personal realization that Diana has that Steve had told her when her ears were ringing that he would be happy to have her “save the world” but it was his time to “save the day” with this action. Funny enough, the pain of the realization doesn’t “break” her as would be the stereotypical thought process. Instead it fuels her, ignites her godliness to become stronger than before.

The third moment, albeit muted and a bit lame, was when Diana looked upon the Dr. Poison character as she thought Wonder Woman was about to destroy her. She had mercy on her, plain and simple. This didn’t disturb me in the least because again it reflected the power of unconditional Love and how although many could argue that Dr. Poison didn’t deserve this mercy or grace–it has often been the type of moment that truly transforms someone. Love really can change the Universe.

Applause

This film is worth it. Understandably if schedule and price are not compatible at this time, I’m happy to endorse watching this even on your tablet streaming or a red box DVD rental later.

Kudos to all involved in the script writing, directing, acting, supporting and et cetera with this Wonder Woman film, may it be an example for a future movies in this genre.

In the end, these are the type of films that our society may need more of these days with all the political, religious and racial unrest within countless people around the world –especially those connected via the internet world.

A hopeful and resolute story line that we do have the ability to break out of these contrived barriers against triumph of good over evil that we’ve enslaved ourselves with for centuries.

R.V.S.B.

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P.S. Afterthought for anyone who utilizes the Christian Bible scriptures in their life philosophies:
Taking a walk down Christian scriptures for a moment, I believe the most misquoted verse is in the New Testament of the Bible, Ephesians 5:22, where it reads “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord…” As it goes on for a couple verses, we’ve also endured two millennia where that has given Christian men (and otherwise) license to step on and put down women of faith. What is often overlooked or forgotten is that it goes further in Ephesians to say “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.”
In essence, there is no way that a man can harm a woman if he truly loves her as he loves his own body. How changed would our world today be if this was an attitude put into place immediately? +

Goodbye and Good Riddance Bill O’Reilly, Hello and About Time Tucker Carlson

Note: Haven’t posted anything new to my blog in recent months because like most generation X folks I’ve been too busy living life to take pause and reflect or react in this cyberspace format…until news yesterday hit that Bill O’Reilly lost his job at FOX News.

Breaking News

It was via text that I heard from my husband that “Bill O’Reilly out. Tucker to take his time slot.”  My first reaction was indifference and then I just sat back while waiting at a red light in traffic thinking about how long I’d been watching the O’Reilly Factor.

I got married in 2000 and had just left my Palm Beach County for a new life season in Chicagoland only to watch footage of my hometown plastered all over cable news because of the Presidential election results that were contested between George W. Bush and Al Gore, et cetera.  It would be the following year that the unthinkable would occur with the attacks of 9/11.  O’Reilly was not the end all for me but became staple of sorts in my political news diet through the years, especially as I came to work in the federal government for a number of years.

The Old and the Really New are Moot

I’ve always respected the older generations.  Perhaps it was my upbringing or how I was taught to do so by my teachers during my academic career.

Here’s what strikes me about this O’Reilly phase coming to a halt: the Baby Boomer generation is starting to hit a few walls and I’m afraid there’s not going to be a lot of pity generated by the generation X folks.  It turns out that most folks in their 30s and 40s have been working non-stop since the Enron company scandal and the 90s Dot.com tech bubble burst, followed by 9/11 and then the recession and housing bubble burst to boot.  By the way, this means working jobs that weren’t necessarily part of our plan–for example, after 9/11 there were hiring freeze policies set in place in many companies for a while.

Now we have the millennial generation and surrounding youth who are beginning to get their feet wet in the working world and can risk feeling slighted or entitled in their attitude which tests the patience of generation X people who have already had to serve the complaints and demands of many in the Baby Boom population above them that hardly noticed or valued Xers. Let me pause here to emphasize that these stereotypes that I’m describing do not reflect everyone in these age groups but there is tension that is real between many because of these overall inclinations.

It became apparent and accepted that in the cable news world, most of the respected or “powerful” opinion megaphones were older than the generation X group.

Until now.  Tucker Carlson offers a no-nonsense and practical approach to interviewing guests while also retaining the dry humor that is reflective of a generation that has become skeptical of the political and journalism culture in this country–not to mention other big issues in our nation like the job culture and our economy.

Stay True Tucker: Bow Tie Optional

Personally I have enjoyed watching other cable news channel talking head personalities over the years even if I don’t agree with their views–if at least they give different opinions a chance to be aired and have respect for those they interview.

I’m grateful that Tucker already has demonstrated on FOX’s Tucker Carlson Tonight that he can bring on all sorts of people with different viewpoints (not just conservative) and also engage with them in a lively but disciplined exchange.

My hope is that he can retain his unique style of interviewing and moderate his personal reactions on political matters.  The growth of bipartisan cooperation in this nation will be able to grow if we can generate more open conversations on all the hot topics that fuel social discourse on social media platforms and elsewhere.

R.V.S.B.

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United We Are Exhausted

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November 11, 2016

Equality for All

Everyone in our nation can agree on at least one thing as today closes this week of the 2016 Presidential election cycle, we are united in exhaustion.

Bill of Rights

 It seems that just because most of us have access to the internet doesn’t mean it’s the greatest idea for some of us to utilize to share our grievances, our joys or our opinions of any sort in relation to the POTUS election results (which I’m doing right now—if I offend you, please do stop reading).

Free speech is wonderful in its concept and I wouldn’t want us to ever try to regulate that—we’ve done enough damage with regulations over other private parts of our citizens’ lives like their land and such. This past week is an uncomfortable reminder, though, that sometimes we should just keep our mouths shut. Better yet, keep those tapping/swiping fingers off the touchscreens.

Disclaimer: I may have “replied” earlier this week and hurt some feelings, if you recognize me as doing such I would like it on the record that I’m sorry it occurred, ask forgiveness and will try to more restrained in the future. +

Civil War of the Social Media, Tweeting and Blogosphere

 We are all human. We are Americans or at least aspiring to be as immigration policy in this country is still very difficult to maneuver. The history books will have to have a whole unit devoted to the evolution of the information age especially as it relates to volatile debates between political opponents, their staff surrogates and your fellow citizens.

I’m probably not alone in the sentiment that my blood pressure spiked more than once when I heard/watched our read about Presidential candidates “tweeting” remarks in response to either each other’s actions, words or alleged thereof. Are we kidding ourselves? It was remarkably uncivil and unkind. This eroded all of our emotional consciousness somehow. Unfortunately, it also added up and contributed to the overall anxiety pre-election day.

The Crash of a Façade: O Say Does That Star-Spangled Banner Yet Wave?

 So the supposed impossible happened according to the word of the U.S. mass media outlets, so what? There were people who never thought it was possible after the attacks on September 11, 2001 that we could so soon conceive of electing a person with the full name Barack Hussein Obama II could be our president. This was a man who literally had no executive experience and he went on to be our rightly deserved first bi-racial President of the United States and gave hope for generations to come that anything is possible and “yes we can”.

Are we so shallow now to limit our American dreams that a businessman/heir, TV celebrity, politically bipartisan campaign contributor in the person of president-elect Donald J. Trump cannot now succeed as our 45th president? Are we that depressed and full of negative energy of a nation? Perhaps I don’t want a detailed answer to that: truly we have many of our folks suffering from opiate drug addictions, victims of abuse or human-trafficking and countless other miseries.

Or maybe I’m a silly athlete that has won and lost many a track and road race—I learned at an early age that you can work so hard and still lose really bad. And then, you know what? You first congratulate your competitor, then wallow privately for a moment, reassess and then go at it again in the next race. If there isn’t another race then there’s always another sport.

OFF: PRESS OR SWIPE OFF!

 “Change your thoughts and you change the world.” –Norman Vincent Peale

In the end, we can turn our devices off. We can turn to our loved ones and hug them. We can take a walk and wave to a neighbor. Or turn the device back on and call a friend or arrange to meet up with them in person.

Was blessed with being able to meet up with an old friend a couple of nights after the election this week. We are entirely opposite in our political views and how we felt about this POTUS result—yet how comforting to be able to share a meal together and still talk shop about how our nation can work on better discourse, less finger-pointing and name-calling, more acknowledgement that we really are a nation that is stronger when spending more energy on focusing what we can be working on together.

Personal Responsibility to Politics: A Lost Treasure

 Let’s not be collective victims of apathy again because we’re consumed in our lives and don’t even think about attending a city or town council. What if every American went to just one county school board meeting or county/city/town/village council meeting in a year? Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic but my theory is that even that minimum of participation by merely witnessing that in person would help our collective consciousness about our governments.

Again, let’s work toward making “them” affected by “us” instead of always griping the other way around when it comes to our American system of governing. We want this nation to succeed. We are the people.

R.V.S.Bean

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Trump Trumps: President-Elect Donald J. Trump on November 9, 2016.

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Congratulations!

It’s real. We the People of the United States of America now realize that we really don’t know what we stand for: Democrat, Republican or otherwise.

I recall the 2016 Republican primary for POTUS earlier this year in March. The incredible number of men and one woman running for the big-ticket. I remember a populist voice. It was “the Donald.” It was the “You’re fired” guy. This was the man who none of the political elites dared to give credit or respect to listen to, let alone conceive that he could actually be the nominee of the “Grand Ole Party.”

Then there was the Democratic primary…Hillary Clinton POTUS ticket redux (sorry ma’am, your best chance was 2008) and a few token piece gentlemen, although Bernie Sanders does get points for rousing at least the low-attention span of the millennial base. They had crowned their queen before the Democratic Convention…but we’re not a monarchy.

So here we are…the Republican party is burning yet standing (given the congressional polling numbers coming in House and Senate), the Democratic party is nursing the wounds of the “pendulum swing” that can occur after any two term President of the United States.

I may be a mother-wife-homemaker without a W-2 form or newspaper column tenure, homeschooler, part-time caretaker of 90-year-old grandparents but I can see  and call what is happening. Our country is at a reckoning point and it’s a blessed thing–no doubt painful to be clear.

I love Democrats and Republicans alike (even in if I align myself as a conservative Republican woman)…we as a nation need to take a time-out and recognize that we are stronger together. Please, if you’re aligned with Secretary Hillary Clinton, don’t despair! The United States of America will go on without an overly liberal agenda or a Bush era-heavy influence. Populism is the name of the game. Go USA!

I believe President-elect Donald J. Trump will do his best along with his transition team to put America first. That includes the work of sitting President Obama and former Secretary Hillary Clinton and all the former Presidents of the U.S. still living with us.

God bless America. I pray for us already and will continue to do so. We need to stick together no matter who is POTUS. I respected President Obama even if I don’t agree with all his policies and ideas for the last eight years.   I encourage those opposed to “the Donald” to do the same.

We are America. Unless you want to go to another country, please let’s just stick together and find what our common ground is–I never thought that the 2 party system was the answer in the end. It’s 2016, perhaps it’s time to reconsider.

God and Universe Bless,

R.V.S.Bean

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A Mother’s Memo: President Donald J. Trump? Yes, It Can Happen.

My Dear Fellow Americans,

Can you believe it’s been nearly 15 years since September 11, 2001 occurred? For most of us  in our late 20s and 30s that date clearly served as a psychological marker for when reality hit regarding the United States’ image in the world–let alone how extremist Islamic groups viewed us.

Here we are now, May 2016. The presumptive nominee for the GOP is Mr. Donald J. Trump and the Democrat establishment is trying with all their might to prop up their previously coronated, long-awaiting candidate Hillary R. Clinton.  Everyone seems to be incredulous at the idea of these two being our main choices for President of the United States.

Big names like Jeb Bush say they’ll vote for neither, others are proclaiming that the jig is up for the old party barons and then there’s the millennial generation that don’t think it’s odd at all to expect that they should receive handouts/free stuff from their respective candidates (read: Feel the Bern, seriously?).

Truly, I feel sad for former Secretary Clinton, she actually did have a shining moment that was good for securing the presidency–back in 2008. Today it’s still possible but truly only out of default and after the first presidential debate I’m willing to bet that most folks will recover quickly over their self-imposed gag reflux and vote for Mr. Trump without reservation.

Here now Speaker Paul Ryan who say’s he’s “not there yet”.  Mr. Trump’s quick response to that sentiment reflects the reason why up to this point he’s garnered the amazing number of votes in the primaries.  He doesn’t pause to say the “proper” things to appease others–he just moves forward with what he feels and believes. For better or worse, our nation seems to have evolved into a population that is craving for a leader to just lead without reservation as to how the party herd trends.

I believe I’m speaking for most Americans when I say that although this election cycle seem to be distasteful and on the border of absurd when it comes to the two main candidates–somehow it really all will be okay and if Mr. Trump should win by a landslide vote in the fall, he will be able to delegate appropriately so that America can move forward and perhaps aspire to be greater than it already is at the moment.

This nation is currently blessed even if we are blind and too self-absorbed to acknowledge that right now despite our “party affilations”. Happy voting!

Your fellow citizen,

R.V.S.B.

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Fog Lifting: America May Be Ready for Trump…or Not

Mama Bean should be asleep or washing more dishes but my philosophical-political train of thought won’t stop…

The Setting

The morning following Florida’s super Tuesday had most of eastern Palm Beach County drenched in a heavy fog.  Literally 10-15 minutes from where I live was where both former Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump gave their respective victory speeches.  The irony of the intoxicating mist in the hours following yesterday’s results was not lost on me.

The Climate

People are tired. People are stressed. I’ve said it to family and friends alike that you only have to look at how people drive on the roads to see the reflection of the public’s emotions played out.  (Note: see old blog post for sociology opinion on the matter https://ceoofthehome.net/2012/03/11/driving-exposed-souls/)  At the end of every work day, most Americans have hopefully enough energy to feed themselves and loved ones and find peace to go to bed in time for the grind awaiting in the morning again.

The Unthinkable

Both major political parties may be portrayed in the news media outlets as not agreeing on much but I’m confident enough to believe that we may all agree that the last several election cycles have been tiresome with their choices for President of the United States (POTUS).  This technological age we live in today also makes personality faults ever-present at the click or tap of a “button”.

The Unreal Reality Revealing

How could we possibly be facing the choice of a former First Lady, turned U.S. Senator, turned jilted 2008 POTUS candidate, turned concessionary Secretary of State to now all-but-crowned Democratic POTUS candidate versus a businessman who could care less what anybody thinks of him including the GOP establishment that he has signed up to represent as he runs for POTUS?  With the delegate numbers where they are today, the American media outlets are now a-chattering about the possible ways this can play out for either side.

The Sun Will Set and Hopefully Rise Again

Our nation is big, dare I say “great”.  Truly, I’m not worried about who becomes the next POTUS even if the race is down to the major candidates being Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  Our country has survived since it declared its independence in 1776 and I believe there is a majority of folks in every U.S. political party that are not about to lay down and allow anyone to take our nation down a lifetime path of being indentured.

Too bad we can’t just run single candidates and make the runner-up the Vice President–it might be refreshing in some ways to force us to learn how to compromise instead of always pitting ourselves against each other.  Perhaps we need to start by putting things in perspective and respect the American voting public’s voice in the end, there is little excuse for not exercising personal responsibility to educate oneself about the people running for our nation’s highest elected office.

R.V.S.Bean

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Mr. Donald J. Trump: Self-Made American Brand and Unintentional Manchurian Candidate

Post-CNN GOP Presidential debate before Super Tuesday Redux: 11:52 p.m.

Note: I’m a CEO of the Home (domestic goddess or the antiquated “homemaker”) here in South Florida at the Bean household with husband, children and grandparents asleep and am afforded some strength to write tonight.  

I can easily agree that earlier tonight we saw Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz really come alive during the questions and getting into it with Mr. Donald J. Trump.  But for lack of a more original assessment, too little too late. The brand has been seared into the psyche of most tired Americans–regardless of political affiliations.

Here’s what you cannot disagree with when it comes to Mr. Donald J. Trump: he makes headlines, he has children loyal to him and vice versa, it may seem he stumbles but he doesn’t fall, he might even be quoted with foul language and harsh words but in the end he makes the deal happen and even if he technically didn’t make the deal happen he is able to put the verbal stamp of approval by Trump himself.  In essence, he is a smart man and though he may use simple words and repetitive phrases, most Americans are able to process this in a positive manner.

Simply put: The American political system, namely both Democrats and Republicans, have brought this opportunity to capture the GOP presidential nomination for Mr. Donald J. Trump by a collective ignorance of how most Americans are faring when it comes to their relationship with the government, especially the federal system (let alone their local municipalities).

John Kasich: He still has a place in the federal government, I believe he should be a Vice President nod or Secretary of State.

Ben Carson: Surgeon General? Please step down sir, it is time, but thank you for the gentleman fight.

For those family, friends and political colleagues of mine that are still not understanding how we are on this road now with Mr. Donald J. Trump: I am a native Floridian, I grew up in West Palm Beach and remember his name at an early age and both the ire and desire that it drew from folks irregardless their political or social background.

Despite the way people may feel about him, he is consistent in his manner and although he may seem like an unlikely choice for President of the United States, I ask you to look back at the last several cycles and ask yourself what is the “right” choice for this job? Our country is young and yet we’ve been blessed with incredible technological advances and also  weathered some terrible social regressions (think domestic terrorism, chronic racism debates, lack of personal responsibility).  Extreme islamic terrorism has come to our land and global neighbors abroad. Our domestic markets have taken hits and the generations following the “Baby Boomers” have names with letters at the end of our alphabet, just like the money that runs out for most of them each month.

Stay tuned America, especially you who like your brand names and your repetitive pop and R&B song refrains: will the 2016 winner of the presidential race bring us a spouse of a dynasty, an America brand businessman or a senator that has little support in general? Recall that our country is struggling with its own form of “bankruptcy” in its extreme debt.

Ramona V.S. Bean

P.S. To the question as to “where are the donors’ or Super PAC’s (sp) voices about Trump: They are not stupid. They are gauging where this is going and they don’t want to be on Trump’s bad side, he does not easily forget.

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Bush and Clinton: Democracy or Dynasty?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Two Political Peas in a Pod

In our household we receive two newspapers in the morning the old-fashioned way: The Palm Beach Post and The Wall Street Journal.  WSJ had on their front page today “Clinton Freezes Rest of ’16 Field” by Peter Nicholas.  The Palm Beach Post had in their second page of the front page “Jeb Bush airs campaign ethos” by Peter Baker of New York Times.  Is it already time for 2016 presidential candidate talk?  Evidently it’s been happening for awhile now and only gaining momentum.

Shortcut Update

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was recently in Texas and made some public comments that Mr.Baker writes about saying “even as he sharply criticized President Barack Obama for his handling of foreign affairs and health care, Bush made clear that he would run against the style of politics that has characterized recent Republican nominating contests.”  Mr. Nicholas’ opening line in WSJ says it all: “Hillary Clinton’s phantom presence in the Democratic presidential-nomination stakes–neither in nor not–is freezing the rest of the field, creating formidable obstacles for other candidates needing to raise money and set up an organization.”

What’s in a Name?

When we hear the name “Clinton”, what does the general public call to mind?  Is it Bubba and his saxophone on the Arsenio Hall late night show?  The first black President of the United States?  The blue dress? A congressional call for his impeachment and the question of what “is” is?  Or is it first lady Hillary Clinton “standing by her man”? Perhaps it’s the pacification of President Clinton when his two term presidency was over and then Hillary Rodham Clinton was finally able to pursue her political career beginning with a U.S. Senate run, presidential run and most recently our Secretary of State during the first years of President Obama’s tenure.

How about “Bush”?  Enough negative press was showered on this name in this century alone that it may be appropriate to assume that the name “Bush” immediately invokes “Iraq” or “War on Terror”.  The truth is that most adults who are between 30 and 40 years of age can’t recall too much prior to 9-11-01.  We were just finishing school years and starting careers or families when that national tragedy struck and started that decade into a hurtling mess of economic disparity and loss of privacy in the name of national security.  Can we remember what President George H.W. Bush was known for? Vice-president for the iconic President Ronald Reagan? “It wouldn’t be prudent”?  Or was it the obvious loss to the more photogenic and charismatic Democratic presidential Bill Clinton-Al Gore ticket in 1992?

Buzz Words and Who’s Listening

It’s a somber reality that most of us will not be ready for the multimedia onslaught of presidential buzz words of who’s the possible candidate for this party and that.  The American public is pretty weary after weathering various difficulties–especially economically–that hit the middle-class and below quite hard.  In an era of people learning about how to simplify and return to organic and holistic means of living, we are also being inundated with talk of Obamacare and how we ought to sign up now for our health care security.  So now I hear from people in person and now in print media that it may be a Clinton versus Bush episode–is this a democracy or a dynasty system?

This rhetorical question doesn’t intend to belittle or insult what former Secretary Hillary Clinton and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush have done in service to our country.  However, we should try to stop for a moment if possible and consider what we truly want when it comes to choosing a presidential candidate to lead our executive branch of the federal government–serving as the proverbial “leader of the free world”.

Political Benediction

Depending on who’s reading this either you may love politics and follow everything closely or you might abhor the nonsense of the rhetoric and corruption that seem to follow anything affiliated with the government.  I would encourage anyone who is a U.S. citizen reading to remember that we are all Americans together, despite the party or non-party affiliations.  This country isn’t perfect by any means and rather young when you look at the history of the world in general–still, it’s our nation and we do have a right to continue to ask questions and seek out whomever we think should be in the power seats we’ve set up through our governing system.  Please don’t forget that we are a country “for the people by the people”.

R.V.S.B.

 

 

“The Gentle Art of Blessing”: A Book Review and a Cautionary Tale

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“The Gentle Art of Blessing – A Simple Practice That Will Transform You and Your World” by Pierre Pradervand

A Book Review

Initially I picked up this book at my local Barnes and Noble bookstore because the title and decorations on the cover looked calming.  In my hectic life, reading is often a source of entertainment, of learning and at times of healing.  I perceive this as a healing and educational sort of book.

Besides his book, Pierre Pradervand has a website that describes his life work: http://www.gentleartofblessing.com

The premise of this piece is to encourage everyone to consciously bless others–even if they’ve directly wronged you or others.  The author uses extensive references from Christianity, Native American wisdom, Arab proverbs and other cultures around the globe.

An excerpt from his book that encapsulates a mini-version of his discourse style:

“That is why loving unconditionally is the most important activity in the whole universe, and the one most       able to produce the deepest happiness. We do not love unconditionally to satisfy some abstract moral law or some faraway deity.  As the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, wrote, ‘You love because you love. There is no reason to love.’ If the very ground of our being, our very essence, is love–which is one of the postulates of this book–then love is simply the most genuine, the most natural expression of our true being.  And in active love, we will also discover a wonderful path toward happiness, health, and fulfillment–but it will be an unintended result, so to speak.”

As I write this book review, I freely admit that I haven’t completed reading–It is one of those books, however, that keeps on giving even if you are only able to read a few pages at a time over the course of several months.

A Cautionary, yet Comical Tale: How One Takes Inspiration to Action

In the wake of reading an incredible chapter from “The Gentle Art of Blessing”, I felt confident driving out during a recent Monday morning with a certain set of goals in mind for my children and I.

It all began with getting the boys packed up quickly in the car after I received a call-back from my women’s health physician’s office that they were able to squeeze me in immediately.

After frantically rushing through stubborn traffic patterns, I made it upstairs to the second floor with my kids for what I thought would be a short 5 minute wait.  The waiting room wait was more like 50 minutes–the ball beads and wire toy on the floor lasted as entertainment for about 15 minutes–not enough for my energetic little ones.

My name was called and we were checked in by the nurse into the examination room.  Figured this meant I’d be seen shortly after I dressed myself in an attractive paper sheet while also refereeing the under-stimulated offspring that were now quite set on getting each other all ruffled up for jest and jeering purposes.

I cannot come up with a figure for how long I waited in there because ultimately when the nurse practitioner came in she was attentive and efficiently thorough with me.  In fact, she even had someone in training along with her who was quite helpful in distracting the youngest to my left while I could maintain eye contact with the older child to my right–priceless when one is quite helplessly laid back on the examination table.

Thankfully when I left the doctor’s office I was ready to pursue the course of action intended to assist me in being healthy again as soon as the pharmacy could fill the prescription.  Now I faced the minor problem of our vehicle nearly out of fuel and we were late for our next appointment.  So I called the office to alert them and although they assured me it was fine whenever I made it, I felt guilty for being tardy all the same.

This brings me to the climax point of my small and common tale: I turned out of the medical plaza area and drove down the road a little bit to turn into the very next gas station.  Upon rolling up to the pumps I noticed that the space was cramped with cars at each fueling kiosk and it was difficult to get in the right position to fuel up (my gas cap is on the right side of the car).  This was a challenge, but I assured myself that all was well and it would work out as it should.

It took me a few minutes of circling around the four lanes of gas pumps available but I found the right spot to pull up behind a Bentley–mind you, I’m in my 12-year-old beat-up mama SUV.  Assuming I was in the home stretch of this thwarted morning, I swiped my credit card anticipating the display prompts like “please enter your zip code” and so forth to begin fueling already.

Alas, I got the dreaded “please see the cashier”.  You know, the one person you really don’t care to see or walk all the way across the fueling and parking area to go inside and complain that your card is not registering on the supposedly convenient digital outdoor gas pumps.

Once inside I was able to clear up the little set-back after pleading that I didn’t have my ID on me and head back outside again to finish the job.  I saw the back door was open and rushed over and in a relieved-but-furious manner scolded my oldest for having opened the door in the first place.  As I closed the car door I hear a woman’s voice raised in a near-yell, “Excuse me, excuse ME…”

I turn to my right to face the middle-aged looking woman with a blonde up-do, brightly colored with floral pattern sundress who is standing with one hand on her hips and the other on her shiny, cherry red sports car.  I lock eyes with her and she continues in the same irritable tone: “Can you please move your car? I can’t reach my gas door!”

There was a good full second or two that passed as I stood in shock just looking at her deep into her eyes, the noise level and harsh tone hanging in the air between us.  My anger lit quick and intensely hot inside like that moment you throw a match onto a pile of charcoal that’s drenched with lighter fluid in the outdoor grill (for those of us still using that archaic method).

Somehow how I managed to mechanically respond in a deliberately trying-to-be-nice voice that “Yes, I would be happy to help you–a nicer tone would be nice though”, as I was simultaneously aware that my carnal instinct was to rush at her with all possible physical force and throttle her and yet cognizant that my impressionable young sons were witnessing every moment transpiring.

As I marched in front of my vehicle (left, right, left, right…do NOT start running at her), I kept watching her as she explained hastily that she had tried the “nice” route by yelling after me before–as in when I was walking into see the holy cashier to beseech that they take my money so I could fuel up, endure a verbal lashing from a complete stranger and somehow make it to the late appointment for my children.  “I’m late for work!” she blurts out as I’m entering my car to back up and fight every urge in my right hand to throw the gear into ‘drive’ instead of reverse.

I exaggerated my backing up of the car and found myself stretching the gas pump to reach my own fuel door–too prideful to move again I made it work somehow.  The anger was boiling inside me, like a lava flow that’s got to go somewhere, it festered and was pouring out of my mouth and I was trying to direct its wild track into “the gentle art of blessing” as impossible as that seems.

Silly as it sounds, the first thing I did was make a triplicate sign of the cross with my right hand toward her muttering in a barely audible, but don’t-care-if-it’s-heard voice, “God bless you because I can’t right now”…that at least started to help ease the caustic edge of my fury by transferring the full ability to love to Someone a little better capable at the moment.  Then, I kept mumbling to myself that I want to understand her and am just hurt because I really didn’t mean to foul up her morning–I was barely keeping afloat in my own planet of experience this beautiful Monday morning.

Then a calmness came over me and I looked over her way again now that we were closer together and pumping gas respectively and said in a soft manner, “You know, I didn’t mean to park that way, I just pulled up as far as the guy’s car before would allow me”–without looking at me she quickly replied, “I know, it’s okay…” (It sounded apologetic too, much improved from our first interaction).

As comic relief would have it in our cosmos, our gas pumps clicked at the same time indicating our cars were satisfied.  “Have a good day”, she said with a definitive and much kinder tone to me as she closed her fuel cap, “you too” I said with a relieved sigh.  Thank God we both were walking away a little bruised but able to heal quickly and move on with life without holding each other in a grudge–or worse, paying forward our mutual frustration to any other unsuspecting souls.

Ending Note

Again, I understand that reading is difficult for many of us to do with our respective, hectic lifestyles–but if there was one book I recommend having at your night stand it would be this “The Gentle Art of Blessing” by Pierre Pradervand.  He has a talent for speaking to everyone, no matter what religious background or lack thereof.  The stories shared are the kind we find in many family oral traditions.  Ultimately, Pradervand acknowledges the universal truth that we are all connected somehow and Love begets Love.

R.V.S.B.

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame: A Reflection

Note: I credit both The Palm Beach Post for the news link and photo (Bill Ingram)Image,

as well as Palm Beach Sports Commission (www.palmbeachsports.com) for the detailed information on the 2014 Induction Class.

The Morning After

The morning after most big life events can evoke a mixed slurry of both euphoric and bittersweet emotions.  This past Monday I awoke to gray skies here in south Florida with slivers of pink and lavender tones to the east signaling dawn’s arrival–the rain would begin softly and go on to run intervals throughout the rest of the day.

Intervals. How many intervals of some distance or another have I run in my lifetime up to this point?  The seasons of my sport blend into the shifts of my life seasons from a little prep school runner to a student-athlete representing the University of Florida Gators to a young wife of a seminarian to Capitol Hill and U.S. Treasury mini-careers to a CEO of the Home including working as homeschool teacher of young children.

Reflections On Fellow Inductees

After the initial phone call a few months ago when I was informed about my inclusion in the Inductee Class of 2014 for the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame, I was curious to know about the other inductees.  This past Sunday evening I was genuinely humbled to be in the company of not only some past honorees but my current class. The following reflection is for each one inducted:

  • Reidel Anthony:  What a blessing to be inducted alongside a fellow Florida Gator! That you were able to achieve such great stats in a short period of time shows what a great drive and understanding you have of your sport. Proud of your personal accomplishments and now as a coach giving back and helping the next generation find their footing as rising student-athletes.
  • Randy O’Neal:  Your baseball career is outstanding and reflects that you not only respected your sport but understood the importance of higher education and collegiate athletic training.  What impressed me the most was that in your speech’s mention that one of the times you learned the most was when you were in a limbo situation during your baseball career–essentially alluding to the fact that we often glean wisdom from our moments of adversity.  This is so important to remind young student-atheletes about as unforeseen difficulties can abound as they forge into their respective careers.
  • Donald Blaze Thompson:  I meant what I said about Coach Harry Howell in my speech the other evening, that he was like a father to me and such–I believe it’s priceless what likely you are to many, if not all, of your players as not only a successful coach in the game of football, but as a mentor on life itself as they go forward from school to the next step.
  • Vincent Bogdanski:  What an honor to meet a fellow Cardinal Newman Crusader and see you recognized for an exceptional sports career that included football, tennis, golf and basketball.  Your focus on academic achievement was reflective in your college choice and yet it’s exciting to learn that you were able to compete for Georgetown in football and then later represent the U.S. Air Force in tennis.
  • Pete and Alice Dye:  Honestly I’m just beginning to learn about the game of golf–it was a revealing education to read about both your accomplishments in and your contributions to the sport.  It is wonderful to see such great team that between the two has designed just under 100 courses that are known as “golf’s best” and because of Alice has been taking “the women’s game into account” by standing on site and helping oversee the construction.

Nutshell Conclusion

The entire event was a great testament to the sports accomplishments of Palm Beach County in general and I was happy to see the various high school student-athletes recognized: Rasheeda McAdoo in Tennis and Jesse Stephanos in Wrestling–including other outstanding persons like Malachi Knowles with Inner City Youth Golfer’s, Inc and Special Olympics Athlete of the Year Bridget Manken.  Amateur Athlete of the Year Tre Mason, Professional Athlete of the Year Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Andrews-Ceravolo High School Coach of the Year, Jack Daniels with William T. Dwyer.  Congratulations to everyone mentioned or missed!

Grateful and Onward

Personally this event was a gift to help take a pause and look back for a moment before heading onward again–as I said, it is impossible to truly thank everyone who has been part of my personal triumphs (as well as perserverance through times of difficulty).  It’s common to say that the people who are part of your life’s journey resemble links in a chain.  However, I would offer that from my experience during childhood through to the present tells the story of family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers resembling threads woven into an elaborate tapestry representing my life.  Thank you and God’s blessings to all who have been, are and will be a part of my life.

R.V.S.Bean

The Palm Beach Post link: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/photo/sports/reidel-anthony-proud-product-of-the-muck-enters-pa/p9RKw/