595: Different Views


Lots of people like to claim fact to support their opinion, and that is generally a good thing – having factual support for the opinion that you hold. It does not, however, mean that your opinion is correct because you have a fact (or several) to cite.

Facts are data. Your opinion is your interpretation of how that fact came into being (cause), your opinion on how that fact has applied (effect) to the situation, and your opinion on how best to ameliorate that fact or situation you think it applies to (solution). Once you state your fact, everything else you spout is opinion. Understand that truth. Even if you have historical precedent that your opinion worked out one way in the past, it does not always mean that it will work out that way now, in the present.

Two people can see the same fact and interpret it widely differently based on the filters, experience, education, and logic they bring with them to interpret those facts, which they use to form their opinions.

Therein lies the rub, particularly when the issues that are being discussed are political ones, or social issues. Those are not simple issues, in part because they affect people of widely differing values, cultures, and circumstances. A solution that works for one segment of the population disenfranchises other segments – a truth that continually evades lawmakers.

I am apparently among the very small minority of people who can respect someone whose opinion differs from mine. I still do not think they are correct, but I can respect that they have some basis for their opinion in fact – exactly like I do. Even when I think they are completely wrong, and they have no basis in fact that I can determine, they are still a human being entitled to their opinion – exactly like I am. YES, it is best if opinions can be formed with factual bases, but understand even when they ARE, we can still legitimately differ in our opinions.

And *I* can respect that.



570: My bad


In this culture of victimhood that current society is wallowing in (pig in mud inference deliberate, here), where everyone and everything ELSE is to blame for everything I do and everything that happens to me – even at this seemingly simple task, I FAIL.

I am totally to blame for all of it. I have been unable to weasel out of anything….EVER. I try, believe me. I try. I figure if everybody else can slime their way out of any and all responsibility, I should be able to do the same: after all, I am female, have two adult (mostly) children, am regrettably white, old, fat, college educated, and employed full-time – a reasonable victim by anyone’s standards.

The problem is that pesky conscience, which I am assured that most modern people do not possess, as evidenced by their behavior laid out for all the world to see. I have not found the switch to turn that sucker off. And I am unsure which government form to fill out to evict the troublesome conscience as a result of its no longer being required or desired.

It can’t be as difficult as I am making it, this conscience-shredding process, or most of the world’s people would not have managed it so effortlessly.

*sigh* I’m a failure at being a failure.

554: Funny

It is funny how most outspoken people are convinced of the rightness of their views. Those who are less outspoken generally are more willing to consider someone else’s point of view instead of being so busy proclaiming their own. People who see only the rightness of their own views are tiring people. They do not allow for different circumstances, or different experiences in their view of the way the world should be. This is not an indictment of liberals or conservatives, Americans or any other nationalities, religious/spiritual/non-spiritual people, environmentalists or hunters, pro-choice or pro-life, or any other of the labels that serve mightily to divide people and stratify humanity on the side of one fence or the other.

It’s funny how every single person has things, issues, behaviors, and actions that they consider to be right, wrong, and proper, or socially acceptable. And in holding those views, often we slight someone else who has different circumstances, and/or different experiences that have shaped THEIR right, wrong, and proper.

It is funny how even within a single country, a single state, or a single town, there are different sorts of people, from various backgrounds, with different life experiences. Factor in different countries, different cultures, different languages, and all those other differences that make up the people living today, and you can begin to understand why one view of right, wrong, and proper does not fit everyone.

Yes, I have some views of what is right and what is wrong. And I try hard to live my life in accordance with those views. But I can live peaceably among people who do not share my views, my precious views, those things I consider right and wrong. It is possible.

It is funny how that is actually possible. The sad part is how few are willing to try doing just that.

250: What to do

How does somebody know what to do? In any given situation, how do people know what to do? Animals have instincts. They know what to do most of the time, except when they come into contact with one of us, and then their instincts let them down, because we are manipulative creatures, and we don’t follow the laws of Mother Nature (for the most part). We cheat, a lot.

Animals know if they are far enough away from another animal that they can get a pretty good running start if threatened that the other animal can’t usually hurt them. That law does not apply to a human, though, and lots of animals learn that one the hard way – as their last lesson. The only way to be safe around a human is if they don’t know you are there, or they cannot see you, and even then sometimes…….

At any rate, how do people make decisions about how to behave and what to do? Culture accounts for a lot of it, and upbringing accounts for even more. Still, all of us know individuals who “buck the system,” choosing ways to behave that, quite frankly, don’t make a whole lot of sense to everybody else.  I rather think that if everybody else is wondering why I am doing something, perhaps I should reconsider and think about it a little more, but just because everybody else thinks I am doing strange things is CERTAINLY not a legitimate reason to stop doing them. So, then, what IS a legitimate reason to stop doing something? Or, sometimes, not to begin doing something? What are the standards or “proper” behavior?

Well. After some consideration (not too much, mind you) here is what I have come up with.

1. DO NO HARM. This one is a toughie sometimes, because each one of us is interconnected with a great many others of us, and sometimes doing no harm is pretty difficult. As an example, I waited until my children were old enough to begin college before I accepted a job teaching overseas. My daughter handled it fine, my son imploded. This is not to say that he would not have had significant problems even had I been there and more easily accessible,  but being mom, I feel somewhat accountable because my son is not coping with being grown up well at all. Still, he’s making his own decisions, something he told me repeatedly his last year of high school he was waiting impatiently to do……….

2. Align the behavior with your Supreme Being. If you don’t have a Supreme Being, refer to number 1. If you do, make sure your behavior is compatible with what your scriptures (NOT YOUR RELIGIOUS LEADERS) have to say about ethical behavior.

3. That’s about it. The rest can go hang.

210: Country People

I just got a response to a job application I put in for – a job in Mexico. This international school’s query letter back to me had some interesting information. They have about 800 students and about 60 teachers, only 20 percent of whom are foreign hired, like I would be – If my math is correct, that means about 12 people. They provide medical insurance and paid, furnished housing. They report that their teachers claim to be able to save between 30 and 60 percent of their salaries. They also state that they do not hire teachers who have non-teaching spouses. I wonder why?

Firstly, if someone can save 30 to 60 percent of their money, it appears that there is sufficient income for a dependent who does not also work at the school. Mexico’s laws don’t allow someone to work in their country without express permission from the visa that the government grants. I expected that – I will support my husband on the money I earn, just like I do here in Morocco.

Secondly, my husband does have a TEFL certification to teach people English-as-a-second-language, but he does not have a teaching certification like I do. He also has a US driving license to drive big trucks and passenger vehicles, especially school busses, which was what he got it for, plus several years of experience. Additionally, he is a certified heating and air conditioning technician. He has served our current school as a youth sports coach (mostly soccer, grades 2-6) and as a summer camp activities counselor. So, he COULD be of use to the school as a teacher.

I expect to pay for his medical insurance, his eye and dental insurance, his life insurance and his other needs. In return, he handles the full-time job of running the household. I know this to be a full-time job, because I used to do it when my children were small, during my first marriage. For six years, I did not work outside the household, because inside the household took all my time. I remember!!

I also expect to provide housing for us, outside the furnished apartments that the school offers, just like I do here in Morocco. Why do you want to go live and work in another country, only to live in a guarded compound with all the other foreign-hired teachers?? You wanted to go there to immerse yourself in the culture, language and people, did you not? Besides, we have an apartment outside of the guarded, furnished, free University housing here in Morocco (unusual for foreign hires), and they could not PAY me to move back. We LIKE it outside with real Moroccan people. I thought that’s part of what we came here for. Besides, we are both rurally raised, and handy, so the fact that Moroccan (and apparently Mexican, too) apartments come with four walls, a floor and a roof and not much else did not faze us. In the US, we ourselves finished an 1800 square foot basement with three bedrooms, a bath and a kitchen, we managed a farm and raised our own garden and livestock (goats, chickens, rabbits). We know how to live a little more simply than most Americans, and we don’t have to have all the creature comforts that many people have come to consider essential in America.

Anyway, I am still interested in them. We’ll see if they are still interested in ME.

183: The Urge to Congregate

Apparently everybody ELSE is lonely. Either that, or they are working to improve “employee morale,” and establish a “positive work environment culture.” It is approaching the winter holiday season (God forBID anybody refer to Christmas) and all the employees here at work (with the exception of me) are planning a get-together, pot luck, celebratory dinner. Everyone is encouraged to attend, spouses and significant others welcome, no children (unwelcome), and no alcohol (ditto). This is supposed to encourage us to attend??

Quite frankly, I see these persons each and every work day. We co-exist rather well, with a few exceptions, during the normal work day. We are able to be polite, and get our various jobs accomplished with relatively little friction. I view this as positive, and an example of decent levels of good employee morale. I see this companionable rubbing along as an example of positive work environment culture. I just do not feel the burning need to congregate with my co-workers after work hours, to help foster good vibes during the work day. My good vibes are quite sufficient, thank you. I need no assistance in generating additional ones.

Plus, I certainly do NOT need another occasion to overeat. Neither do several of our other employees. I could use an occasion to over-drink, but that option is just not on at this particular function, and I prefer to accomplish that objective in places where no one knows me, anyway. Just in case. You never know. Certainly not at a work function!

So, how do I bow out of this invitation without looking and sounding like a major employee disaster? Do I claim a previous engagement? Do I cough a few times (in tubercular fashion) during the day before the event, so I can claim illness? Or do I let the chips fall where they may and just say no, thanks?

148: Getting Used to New Ideas

Culture is the environment you grew up in. It is peculiar to the region, and to the families who live in that region. Even in the US, where we are all Americans, there are distinct culture differences depending on where you are from, and your family. These cultural differences are just one MORE adjustment you must make when you meet that special person and decide to marry. Different families do not do things in the same way. Now, take that adjustment, and move to a totally new country in a new part of the world for you, like say….oh…..Morocco. In north Africa.

What I have discovered, after two plus years of living and working in this mostly delightful country is that there are some really new ideas to get used to. One of these ideas is marriage. Yes, Moroccans get married, just like Americans do. However – Moroccans are mostly Islamic, or Muslim. Islam allows a prosperous man to marry up to FOUR wives. This, to an American, is a radically new idea.

My husband of ten years is American. In America, men generally do the pursuing of the women for mates. In America, it is generally also understood that a married person is off-limits for persons who are prospecting for mates. Married people have already made that choice, for the most part. Yes, I know that prohibition is not always followed, but usually, pursuing married people is considered tacky and low-class to the extreme.

In Morocco, this is also true of a married woman. Married women are off-limits: they have made their choice, and it is all over except for the crying. Men do not pursue married women, because that could get them killed. Seriously.

However. However. However. Married MEN are still fair game, because of the four wife thing. Since we have been here in Morocco, my husband has been proposed to (sometimes within minutes of meeting him) by EIGHT different women. He has been startled to discover that when he says to them, ” I am already married,” that this does not deter them in the least: they are perfectly willing to be wife number two.  This is pretty heady stuff for a guy who has always had to do his own chasing.

Lately, he has begun to make casual (oh, so casual) jokes about getting a second wife, like how the two of us “girls” can go shopping together. Yeah, right. What he has neglected to recall is that I am an American woman, and a Christian one, at that: not Islamic. We are NOT culturally accustomed to sharing our husbands. In fact, sharing a husband can get you killed. Seriously. It could happen.

Maybe I’d better buy him some life insurance, before I kill him.