Sunday, October 28, 2012

Religion and Politics... oh my!

One of the nicest things about living in the United States is that I have the freedom to choose - or not choose - a religion and not be discriminated against because of that choice.  It should be the same in the political arena.  I'm a huge proponent of my fellow citizens taking the time to exercise our fundamental rights as Americans - voting.  And while I do have very strong personal opinions on which candidate I think will do a better job, I don't think picking "the right" candidate is any more important than just getting out to the polls.  Nor am I ever going to ostracize someone for picking a different choice than me. What infuriates me is when people try to make me feel I've made a bad choice - whether it be for rejecting a religion or for picking the other guy on election day.

I had a really great heart to heart - middle of the night - discussion with some friends a while back where two of them expressed how refreshing it was to know this about me.  We were talking about religion mostly - both are members of the religion I was raised in and later rejected as an adult - but the conversation also turned to gay rights which is one of the major hot points in today's politics.  In expressing my differing views I never once made them feel their choices were wrong or that they weren't entitled to the same freedom I always demand for myself when making my own choices.

Which begs the question:  How did we get to be such a society where it is no longer about having the freedom of choosing for ourselves but about which choice is made by the majority?  Why is it that a Muslim or an Athiest is viewed differently than a Christian?  And why is the political stage so awash in religious tenets?  Why has "conservativism" become a choice of Christianity and the "liberals" the ones trying to destroy the "In God We Trust" folks?  Don't people remember when 'In God We Trust' was added and that most of our parents didn't pledge allegiance to a flag that included the word "under God" in it when they were children? Since when has the conversation been more about proving your choice better than allowing tolerance for everyone's choice?

Bottom line, religion and politics have become far too intertwined and far too much emphasis on personal worth has been placed on both choices a person makes.  Just because my opinions or belief system differs from yours doesn't mean I'm wrong any more than you are wrong because you made a different choice than me.  In this very crazy political season, I hope there's others out there with the same thought process because if not we are going down a very slippery slope as a nation and it makes me sad.  Remember, once you invalidate someone's personal beliefs it undermines the very fabric this great nation was founded upon.  Today it might be tolerance that you show another that someday will come back to you from others and you'll be thankful you had an open mind.

Friday, October 19, 2012

You can't make me... or can you?

I just looked back on my blog archives to make sure I wasn't naming this entry the same as the one I did on this subject this time last year and to my amazement find I DID NOT blog about this last year! *gasp*  Hold onto your hats, this is a rant two years in the making now...

I work for a healthcare company (which will remain nameless here for my safety) and have for about 4 years.  I work in I.T. and have never been in a patient care environment for my job.  The first two years when it came time for everyone in America to get their flu shots, I signed a waiver that I wasn't going to get one.  Employees either had to provide proof they got stuck or weigh in that they weren't planning on it so the company can mark us all off on their little lists.  Two years ago, they got smart and offered a 'permanent waiver' if you were never going to get a flu shot which would make it easier on the head count every year.  I was elated to eliminate the yearly hassle of the waiver.

Then the following year - last year - they decided that everyone was required to get the shot no matter what.  So much for a permanent waiver that didn't even last a year!  The only exception being if you had a religious reason - other than the "I am using my free will to choose not to" - or a doctor-verified medical reason not to get it.  I was furious!  Want to get me motivated?  Tell me I can't do something and I'll prove you wrong.  Want to incite me to violence?  Force me do something I don't want to do.

How did they force us all to comply with this violation of civil rights?  By threatening us with suspension and eventual termination if we didn't succumb to the needle by certain deadlines.  I know what you're thinking - How can they do that?!?  Isn't that discrimination?  Isn't it against some fundamental human and civil right that we have to choose?  I'll tell you how - because Utah is a right to work state which means they can fire me for whatever whim they choose.

Last year I was outraged... and when it came time to march down with the cattle call and get our badges scanned and fill out the paper and sign below the statement that says 'I am choosing to get this shot even after I've been told the risks', I crossed out the statement I didn't agree with and signed the paper.  The turd from Human Resources refused to accept my paperwork saying the company's attorneys wouldn't allow any alteration of the forms.  The following dialogue ensued:

Me: "But that means you are asking me to sign something that isn't true because I don't have a choice to get the flu shot and I'm not willingly choosing to get it."

Him: "Of course you have a choice, you don't have to get the shot."

Me: "But if I don't get the shot I get fired."

Him: "True.  But if you choose not to get the shot knowing those are the consequences you still have a choice."

I looked at him, seething, and couldn't argue with the logic.  If I had the financial means to walk out the door right then and never go back, I would have quit on principle alone.  But, alas, I have a family I help provide for that I had to think about.  There were many I heard who did walk away from their jobs and I applaud them.

For weeks stories floated around about how people who had claimed an exemption for religious reasons or medical reasons had been denied and still required to get the shots.  Apparently a slight allergic reaction wasn't enough, it had to be a severe allergic reaction.  And the religion exemption was even harder to get.

Why am I so against the flu shot?  It isn't the flu shot specifically because I wholeheartedly believe that those who are susceptible to getting the flu or are at risk for other factors should get the flu shot.  But I'm not in either of those categories.  I have not had the flu in over 20 years.  So tell me how a dead virus grown in eggs and gambling that the epidemiologists correctly guessed picked the way last years virus would mutate to get put in the vaccination when there are hundreds of strains of the flu virus will protect me any better than my amazing immune system already does with a flawless track record.  I didn't even get the H1N1 vaccination when I was pregnant!  No, for me this is just a violation of my right to chose what I do and don't put in my body. 

This year I was resigned that I'm still not allergic to eggs - thank GOD since I eat them every day - to get me out of what I knew was looming again.  Instead, I did a bunch of research trying to find if there was a religion I could join that would impart me with some tenet I could waive to say forcing me was 'against my religion'.  Me, wanting religion.  Ironic, isn't it?  Interestingly enough, I found one!  But even that came with a catch....  The Congregation of Universal Wisdom is against basically everything medical because they believe all things are cured by the laying on of hands on the spine.  PERFECT!  What's the catch?  To join the congregation requires a one-time 'donation' of seventy-five dollars.  SEVENTY. FIVE. DOLLARS.  Oh, and if you require an affidavit of membership with a statement about their stand on immunizations, include an additional fifteen bucks and we will express mail it to you.  I wonder how many other people who typed "is there a religion against flu vaccine" in their google search hit on the same page and how long this congregation has been around...

So, what is worse?  Being forced to do something you don't want to do with the threat of losing your job; or being exploited financially by people who cleverly found a very specific niche market of people just like me who are willing to go to great lengths not to be forced into an unwanted immunization?  In the end, my pocketbook won over my sense of outrage and my arm still hurts where they stuck me with that damn needle full of flu vaccine which I'm hoping doesn't mess with my already amazing immune system and isn't tainted with viral meningitis.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What is it about November?

Why is it that when the air turns crisp and the nights get longer I suddenly find new energy for writing?  Its like just the thought of November and it's designation as National Novel Writing Month looming in the coming weeks magically motivates me.

I've been in the "percolating" stage for months on my novel.  Which is writer speak for I'm-not-actually-doing-any-writing-but-I'm-thinking-alot-about-writing.  I used to fight this time when it would hit me but I've learned that if I wait it out and allow the percolation I am surprised at what my subconscious spews out when it's over.  This time was no exception.

Remember that the last writing I did was on my camping trip when I got reacquainted with where I'd left the story and all the characters and then banged out a new chapter.  Fast forward to yesterday when I sat down and without much thought produced a pretty killer chapter to fill a hole in the middle that until then had a one sentence of "this should happen here" as a placeholder.  Once that hole was filled in, the flood gates opened wide.

Tonight I spent my allotted writing time NOT on Facebook (miracle) and read the entire manuscript putting one sentence synopsis with each chapter heading.  (I just upgraded to Word 2010 and I'm really digging the default navigation bar on the left that shows you the headings in list form.)  Now I can see the flow of what every chapter accomplishes - as well as the few remaining holes that have yet to be written.  HOLY. SHIT.  I've only got 4 chapters to write and I'm done with my first draft!!

Surely I can write 4 chapters in the next three weeks.  Because then it will be November and I can start on the other thing the most recent percolating has conjured: a new story idea.  Yes, you read this post correctly.  I procrastinated percolated finishing the rough draft of my first novel so long that now I only have three weeks to finish it AND plan a new story so I can do National Novel Writing Month again this year.  Talk about working better under pressure and setting high expectations of yourself, eh?

Here's to burning the midnight oil and drinking more coffee than I have all year so I can basically write at breakneck speed for TWO months instead of one.  And may I live to tell about it when it's all over.