Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Picture cooperation

I've told you this story about cooperation before, but I really like it, and since cooperation is such a great thing, I thought I'd share this story again.
It's about a man who was taken on a tour of both heaven and hell. In hell he was shown a banquet hall filled with diners seated at a table that was covered with all kinds of delicious food. Each person’s back and left arm were tied to the chair so that bending at the waist was impossible, and the left arm could not move. The right arm was stiffened so that the elbow would not bend. The people at the table could gaze at the delicious spread and they could smell the aroma of the food, but they were starving.

In heaven, the picture was exactly the same – backs and left arms shackled, right arms stiffened – but the diners were feasting and rejoicing, because each diner used his stiffened right arm to feed the person to his or her right. It was a picture of people working together – a picture of cooperation. Working together as a team, we can do so much more!
Think about it.  How wonderful this world would be if we all worked together!

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Food Volunteers

Every day in San Francisco, thousands of people are touched by the generosity of the programs at Project Open Hand, the Saturday neighborhood food program at All Saints' Episcopal Church, Glide Memorial, Saint Anthony's, The Bethel Food Pantry on Fridays, and so many more.  The need is great in San Francisco, just as it is in so many places, and yet many come forward and donate their time and money.
Volunteering at a food program isn't just something for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter.  Often those occasions have more than enough coverage because there is extra publicity.  What about the other 362 days of the year though?  Many programs have a wide range of volunteer opportunities for all levels of ability.  Even the frail and elderly can find volunteering to be a great way to give back to others.
There are numerous food banks and meal programs here in the Bay Area - many more than the ones I just mentioned.  Consider regularly donating some of your time to any of there.  The food volunteers do some really incredible work and make a huge impact in the lives of many.  You could be one of them.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

It's a fundamental right

If I hear someone say "gay marriage" one more time, I'm going to scream!  Really folks.  It's marriage.  Just marriage.  You can pretty much bet that if a woman marries another woman or a man marries another man, they are gay.  We don't need to announce it any more that I say I ate my gay breakfast this morning right after I took my gay shower and in a little while I am going to gay mass.

Oh and another thing about marriage:  it's a fundamental right!  Did you always approve of who some of your relatives or friends married?  It doesn't really matter though because it's about love.  It isn't up to us.  We don't get to pick and choose who can marry whom.  Two people decide that for themselves and if they are legally able to consent, it is nobody else's business.  It is a right - a basic fundamental human right.

I cannot say that an Asian woman cannot marry a Black man and I cannot say that a while man cannot marry a Black woman.  It's none of my business.  Most people finally get that.  The tough one still for a lot of people is same-sex relationships, but it's the same thing.  The couple decides, not the folks down the street.  One person asks another to marry them and they say yes to each other.  That's really what it's all about.  It isn't anyone else's business!

The United States Supreme Court has, since 1888, ruled in at least 14 cases that marriage is a fundamental right. In Maynard vs. Hill, back in 1888, the High Court said that marriage is "the most important relation in life."  Courts all across the land are saying the same thing.  There have been so many rulings in support of marriage equality this year it is hard to keep up.
More and more people are realizing that it is a matter of justice and fairness.  Slowly things are changing.  Nobody should have to wait though for equality.  It's a fundamental right!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Stop banning gay men

As I have written here on a number of occasions, the US Food & Drug Administration bans gay & bisexual men from donating blood. Is this fair? Of course not! The simple fact that the current lifetime deferral focuses on sexual orientation as the ONLY reason to deny should make it painfully obvious that the policy is unfair. Blood donations need to be safe. We don't deny that, but I ask you to join me in calling on the FDA to change its policy so that it focuses on sexual behavior and individual risk instead of denying all gay and bisexual men. The current ban rests on unsound science and perpetuates stigmas.

President Barack Obama has a lot of power and we are now, through a White House petition, urging him to join with us.  The petition begins by saying "We petition the Obama Administration to: Call On HHS & The FDA To End Their Ban Against Gay & Bisexual Male Blood Donors."  If you have not already signed the petition, I urge you to click HERE and sign.  After signing, I urge you to forward this important petition to all of your friends.

Let's not rest there though.  Campbell, CA Mayor Evan Low has been fighting this battle for over a year now and as a result of his good work, more and more people are aware of the discriminatory blood donation policy, but we need everyone to know about this and we need it to end.  Share this blog post on your twitter or facebook accounts.  Write emails to your friends urging their involvement.  Write a letter directly to President Obama and write as well to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell.  Get on the phone too.  Call the White House switchboard.  Call your other elected officials and urge them to sign the White House petition and to speak up for fair and equal treatment.  Gay and bisexual men should not be treated as second class citizens!

It is high time this ban was ended.  Let's make it happen!  Changing this policy is so overdue.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Clothing the world

When you think of the basic needs of life, shelter and food immediately come to mind.  There is a third very important need too, and that is clothing.  Some of us have WAY more than we need, while others can hardly cover themselves.  There are shelters for the homeless and meal programs too, but we don't hear as much about the clothing.
Years ago I belonged to a church that had a large barrel into which members of the parish would dump their clean unneeded clothing.  It was pretty simply.  You emptied your closets of things you no longer needed or wanted and brought them to the barrel.  We visitors came to the church they searched through the barrel for things that might work for them.  Of course there was no charge.  Some places with sufficient space have more elaborate programs where clothes are sorted and placed on tables, shelves, and racks and in addition to receiving donations from members, they also do clothing drives, seeking to increase their inventory with donations from around the neighborhood.
I recently heard about some wonderful organizations that are also helping to clothe the world.  One is called World Clothesline and I invite you to visit their website to find out more about them - you can buy some really nice things, which also helps them to reach more people. They match every item sold with a new item for someone in need.
Stores operated by The Society of St Vincent De Paul, Goodwill, Out Of the Closet, and others sell clothes at very reduced prices.  Often they will have brand new, never before worn clothing.  They rely on donations too.
So here is the word I have used over and over - donation.  These clothing programs work because people donate.  So it comes down to all of us.  We have the power to cloth the world.  We simply have to do something.  Oh donations can come in many forms.  We can give our own clothes or collect clothes from others.  We can donate money to help pay for necessary supplies or to buy new clothes.  We can also donate our time to help make these programs run.  So let's all pitch in - we can clothe the world - we can change the world!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Missing piece of the puzzle

Somehow I never really got into the jigsaw puzzle thing.  Mom loved them and I remember her having them laid out on a card table when I was little.  It might take her a while because she stopped to do other things, but when she found those last pieces, it was an accomplishment - especially that last missing piece of the puzzle.
Sometimes our lives are like that.  It doesn't mean we are unhappy necessarily, but we are looking for something that just is not there.  When it comes:  WOW!  It seems somewhat like finding those missing puzzle pieces.  (Now of course if you are putting together a jigsaw puzzle, you actually look for those pieces.  In life we might not even realize that something is even missing).
So what do we do?  Well, keeping our minds and our hearts open to new possibilities is always a good thing.  Listening to others and realizing that "our" way might not be the "only" way is a start in the right direction.  If we think there is a missing piece that we'd like to find, there is nothing wrong with asking for help too. Perhaps our puzzle pieces are a bit more fluid than those of the jigsaw puzzle.  Perhaps in some cases, there is nothing really missing at all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Today is Wednesday, the fourth day of the week (except for folks who don't count Sunday and then, today is the third day).  It is the name of the little girl Addams.  Wednesday is also a song by Tori Amos, the name of a couple of different films, a 70s pop band from Canada, and an opera.  The poem says that Wednesday's child is full of woe. 
It is often called "hump day" because it falls in the middle of the standard Monday through Friday work week and so once you finish Wednesday, you are "over the hump."
The are many significant things that can be said about this day, but I happen to think that all seven days of the week have special significance.  We can do great things every single day of our life - it really doesn't matter what day it is!  Since Wednesday though is the day upon us, let's go out and make it a wonderful one!