Why I Love America


Today saw the inauguration of Barak Obama as a second term President of the United States, a peaceful re-affirmation of his leadership of this country for the next four years. I was happy to see him sworn in, but I would have been happy to have seen Mitt Romney sworn in as well.


Because every time there in an inauguration I am reminded of how lucky we are in this country to have peaceful elections and transitions of power without bloodshed (literally, if not figuratively).

The swearing in ceremony and all of the celebration that goes along with it, is not celebrating any one person, but, to me, is a celebration of the greatness of our system of government as flawed as it might be at times.

That’s all I have to say tonight. I am so very grateful to be American. I am grateful to be able to vote. I am grateful to be able to express my opinion in public, on Facebook or in this blog.

Mostly I am grateful that I don’t have to fear for my life or the lives of my loved ones with every change in power in my country.


A Word of Thanks for a Great 2012

2012 has come to an end and it has been a year of change for me. In the midst of what may have been my mid-life crisis, I decided to go to graduate school and start this little blog as a way to voice the opinions I don’t always feel I can voice in my everyday life. Thank you to all who have visited, commented and followed….I am grateful you found me.

WordPress sends its bloggers a year end report and I’m sharing it with you. In a nutshell, The Passionate Moderate received 10,000 views in 101 countries. I’m pretty excited about that and I hope to continue to write posts worth reading in 2013.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 10,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 17 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

We Need To Talk About Connecticut

Capturing the grief that is so overwhelming we slump over without strength.

Capturing the grief that is so overwhelming we slump over without strength.

This post is going to be hard to write. I have too much to say and not enough writing ability to say it the way I think it. I’m heartbroken, but worse, I feel frustrated and helpless.

Why helpless?

Helpless because this is going to happen again and again. The variables that go into a situation where an individual decides to kill innocent people as some kind of statement are too diverse for there to be an easy fix. If you look at Facebook, of course, you’ll find all sorts of solutions.

  • better gun control
  • more people carrying guns
  • better parenting
  • better school security
  • more religion in schools
  • less violent video games and media

I could go on and on.

It’s easy to put a firm statement out there about what needs to happen so this doesn’t happen again. It’s human nature. If we think we know the solution then we can control the problem, and who wouldn’t want to feel like they have control over this problem? We never want to think of ourselves or our kids in that kind of mortal danger. We’d be paralyzed if we thought about all of the “what ifs” every day.

The primary issue here is not gun control, although I do believe it has a role to play, and it is certainly not about school prayer. Seriously, if you are trying to tell me that God needs to teach us a lesson by having someone kill 6 & 7 year olds and their teachers, then you need to take a hard look at the God you believe in.

WTF? Do people who post this think of the ramifications of what this actually means???

WTF? Do people who post this think of the ramifications of what this actually means???

The issue here is mental illness, and the lack of resources available to help individuals and families who are dealing with it. Even though it seems like there is an overabundance of little pills for all kinds of mental problems like depression and anxiety there is actually very little help for and understanding of major psychiatric issues and personality disorders. Add into that, the difficulty in getting services for psychiatric disorders and the stigma surrounding mental illness, and you have a recipe for disaster.


Addressing mental illness is definitely a step in the right direction, but it is fraught with difficulties. What do we do with a child who displays sociopathic signs? Lock them up and throw away the key…just in case? You may be thinking that, yes, that is exactly what we need to do to keep everyone safe, but what if it was your child? They haven’t done anything yet. You love them, and you’re scared of them at the same time. Do you condemn them to an institution? Do you hope for the best? Who do you turn to for help when everyone looks at you strangely when your child acts out? When everyone blames you because that is easier than admitting that mental illness is random?

I am not ashamed to admit that many members of my family have struggled with varying degrees of mental illness. Some have gotten better with intervention, some haven’t. Some refuse intervention, but they are adults and that is their right, I guess. Unlike physical illness, mental illness is still shrouded in shame and secrecy. It’s interesting to me how no one blames a parent if their kid gets leukemia, but if the child is diagnosed as bipolar then the parents must have done something to cause it. This type of judgmental attitude needs to change.


As it stands, I don’t know what the answer is, unless it is to say that there is no one answer, but opening up about mental illness and how to treat it is a big step in the right direction.

To quote President Obama from his Newtown Speech:

We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.


If you are a reader, I would like to suggest you read “We Need To Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver. It is a gripping and chilling book about a mother whose son has committed a mass murder at his high school. The story deals with the aftermath she must face but also tells the story of how she knew there was something wrong with him from early childhood and the desperation she feels to understand and change it.


From the blogosphere, I think everyone needs to read this. It is currently making the rounds on Facebook under the title: “I am Adam Lanza’s Mom


Written by a mom who has a son who, by all accounts could grow up to be another name in the news. As a mother I am so sad for her, but also want to be sure no one ever gets hurt by her son. I hope that this family gets the help they need so they can all be at peace. A needed perspective from the other side of the story.

Finally, I wanted to confess, I hadn’t cried about this news story since it broke. I was just to stunned to process it properly. Watching the President’s speech from Newtown, got me choked up, until he read the names of those precious babies who were snatched so violently from this world. Then I was sobbing, for the fear they must have felt, and for the anguish their parents are feeling now. And yes, I even feel a great deal of compassion for the shooter’s father and brother. They are left alone, without answers and I imagine a great deal of guilt.

Thank you for making it this far. There are a lot of blogs being written right now on this subject. If you feel the way I feel, please like or comment, but most of all share. Get the word out and drown some of the noise out there on the internet.

Now, if you’re a parent go and give your kid an extra squeeze. They will look at you like you’re crazy (at least mine did) but that is because they are blissfully ignorant of the fragility of life, and that is part of what makes them beautiful and precious.


Be Thankful, But Also Be Mindful of Our History

Massasoit Ousmequin

I grew up in the region where the “first Thanksgiving” took place. As a matter of fact, the great leader Massasoit lived in the area which is now Warren (my parent’s hometown) and Bristol (my hometown), Rhode Island.  I remember my grade school celebrations of that feast complete with Pilgrim hats and Indian feathers…everyone was part of one big happy human community. It wasn’t until I was much older that I even started to be taught the truth of what happened to the indigenous people of North America.

I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Having a day to stop and reflect on the things that we have in our lives that are important and meaningful is a good thing. However, wrapping it up in a historically inaccurate bow is an insult to the memory of the countless Native Americans who were displaced and slaughtered in the name of exploration, and settlement.

I’ve copied this post from the Huffington Post to share with you today. Be thankful for all that you have in your lives, but educate yourself and more importantly your children on what really happened on that day in 1621, and in the years following.

Do American Indians Celebrate


Posted: 11/19/2012 4:41 pm

In thinking about my earliest memories of elementary school, I remember being asked to bring a brown paper sack to class so that it could be decorated and worn as part of the Indian costume used to celebrate Thanksgiving. I was also instructed to make a less-than-authentic headband with Indian designs and feathers to complete this outfit. Looking back, I now know this was wrong.

The Thanksgiving Indian costume that all the other children and I made in my elementary classroom trivialized and degraded the descendants of the proud Wampanoags, whose ancestors attended the first Thanksgiving popularized in American culture. The costumes we wore bore no resemblance to Wampanoag clothing of that time period. Among the Wampanoag, and other American Indians, the wearing of feathers has significance. The feathers we wore were simply mockery, an educator’s interpretation of what an American Indian is supposed to look like.

The Thanksgiving myth has done so much damage and harm to the cultural self-esteem of generations of Indian people, including myself, by perpetuating negative and harmful images to both young Indian and non-Indian minds. There are so many things wrong with the happy celebration that takes place in elementary schools and its association to American Indian culture; compromised integrity, stereotyping and cultural misappropriation are three examples.

When children are young, they are often exposed to antiquated images of American Indians through cartoons, books and movies. But Thanksgiving re-enactments may be their most active personal encounter with Indian America, however poorly imagined, and many American children associate Thanksgiving actions and images with Indian culture for the rest of their lives. These cultural misunderstandings and stereotypical images perpetuate historical inaccuracy.

Tolerance of mockery by teachers is a great concern to Native parents. Much harm has been done to generations of Indian people by perpetuating negative and harmful images in young minds. Presenting Thanksgiving to children as primarily a happy time trivializes our shared history and teaches a half-truth. And while I agree that elementary-school children who celebrate the first Thanksgiving in their classrooms are too young to hear the truth, educators need to share Thanksgiving facts in all American schools sometime before high school graduation.

Let’s begin with Squanto (aka Tisquantum), a Patuxet, one of more than 50 tribes who formed the Wampanoag Confederacy. Around 1614, when he was perhaps 30, Squanto was kidnapped along with others of his people and taken across the Atlantic Ocean to Malaga, Spain, where they were sold into slavery. Monks in Spain bought Squanto, shared their faith with him, and made it possible for him to find his way to England in 1615. In England he worked for shipbuilder John Slany and became proficient in English. In 1619 Squanto returned to his homeland by joining an exploring expedition along the New England coast. When he arrived at the village where he has been raised, all his family and the rest of his tribe had been exterminated by a devastating plague.

What about the Pilgrims? Separatists who fled from England to Holland seeking to escape religious persecution by English authorities, and who later booked passage to North America, are now called “Pilgrims,” though Americans did not widely use the term until the 1870s. In November 1620, the Mayflower dropped anchor in present-day Provincetown Harbor. After exploring the coast for a few weeks, the Pilgrims landed and began building a permanent settlement on the ruins of Squanto’s Patuxet village, now renamed New Plymouth. Within the first year, half of the 102 Pilgrims who set out from Europe on the Mayflower had perished. In desperation the Pilgrims initially survived by eating corn from abandoned fields, raiding villages for stored food and seed, and robbing graves at Corn Hill.

Squanto was introduced to the Pilgrims in the spring of 1621, became friends with them, and taught them how to hunt and fish in order to survive in New England. He taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn by using fish as fertilizer and how to plant gourds around the corn so that the vines could climb the cornstalks. Due to his knowledge of English, the Pilgrims made Squanto an interpreter and emissary between the English and Wampanoag Confederacy.

What really happened at the first Thanksgiving in 1621? The Pilgrims did not introduce the concept of thanksgiving; the New England tribes already had autumn harvest feasts of thanksgiving. To the original people of this continent, each day is a day of thanksgiving to the Creator. In the fall of 1621, William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth Colony, decided to have a Plymouth harvest feast of thanksgiving and invited Massasoit, the Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag Federation, to join the Pilgrims. Massasoit came with approximately 90 warriors and brought food to add to the feast, including venison, lobster, fish, wild fowl, clams, oysters, eel, corn, squash and maple syrup. Massasoit and the 90 warriors stayed in Plymouth for three days. These original Thanksgiving foods are far different from the meals prepared in modern Thanksgiving celebrations.

Squanto died in 1622, but Massasoit outlived the era of relative peace in colonial New England. On May 26, 1637, near the present-day Mystic River in Connecticut, while their warriors were away, an estimated 400 to 700 Pequot women, children and old men were massacred and burned by combined forces of the Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay and Saybrook (Connecticut) colonies and Narragansett and Mohegan allies. Colonial authorities found justification to kill most of the Pequot men and enslave the captured women and their children. Pequot slaves were sent to Bermuda and the West Indies. In 1975 the official number of Pequot people living in Connecticut was 21. Similar declines in Native population took place throughout New England as an estimated three hundred thousand Indians died by violence, and even more were displaced, in New England over the next few decades.

Looking at this history raises a question: Why should Native peoples celebrate Thanksgiving? Many Natives particularly in the New England area remember this attempted genocide as a factual part of their history and are reminded each year during the modern Thanksgiving. I turned to the Internet to find out what Native people think of Thanksgiving. Here are some of the responses:

I was infuriated when my daughter’s school had a mock feast complete with paper mache headdresses and pilgrim hats!

When they did that 2 my kids in elementary I TORE those items up and signed my kids out of school for that day.

For thanksgiving I was the Indian. Umm Go figure . . . .

Someone took a picture of me in front of the class and to this day…it bothers me. Don’t get the whole making a fest in school.

Tonight I have to lead a children’s Bible class, and they want me to theme it around Thanksgiving. I will, but it’s not going to be about the happy pilgrims and all that stuff. Thankfulness to God is one thing, but elevating pilgrims to hero status is out of the question.

When my daughter Victoria was in grade school she had a teacher give them the assignment to write a report on Thanksgiving Dinner, and Victoria wrote hers as to why our family doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Victoria got an F on the paper, and I threatened to go to the school board if the principal didn’t get it changed. Victoria got an A and the class got a lesson on Native American heritage.

Ignorance and not near enough education in the school systems! It is very sad that a majority of what is taught is very superficial and the dark aspects of our history are neatly tucked away. Very sad!

Considered a day of mourning in our house.


For skins [American Indians], Thanksgiving should be The Last Supper.

The United American Indians of New England meet each year at Plymouth Rock on Cole’s Hill for a Day of Mourning. They gather at the feet of a statue of Grand Sachem Massasoit of the Wampanoag to remember and reflect in the hope that America will never forget.

Do I celebrate Thanksgiving? No, I don’t celebrate. But I do take advantage of the holiday and get together with family and friends to share a large meal without once thinking of the Thanksgiving in 1621. I think it is the same in many Native households. It is ironic that Thanksgiving takes place during American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month. An even greater irony is that more Americans today identify the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday than as National American Indian Heritage Day.

Reprinted with permission from the official blog of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Ann Coulter and the Republican Problem

I can hardly stand to listen to Ann Coulter. She is a hot mess.

Needless to say after Tuesday night she was despondent and took to the airwaves lamenting Mitt Romney‘s loss and discussing what she views as the problem that the Republican party has stating,

Mitt Romney was the president we needed right now, and I think it is so sad that we are going to be deprived of his brain power, of his skills in turning companies around, turning the Olympics around, his idea and his kindness for being able to push very conservative ideas on a country that no longer is interested in conservative ideas. It is interested in handouts.

It may be true that Mitt Romney was the president we needed, but she is wrong about why he is not packing up for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Most Americans are not looking for a handout; they are being given an impossible choice: economics or civil rights?

Those of us who consider ourselves political moderates often feel the same way. We have  great deal of concern over the economy, fiscal responsibility in government and the size of the national debt. We also tend to be socially liberal: in favor of marriage equality, reproductive rights, and if not fully pro-choice at least understanding that the argument has gray areas including issues of rape, and incest.

So on Tuesday anyone who feels this way had to decide where their priorities lie, and much to the chagrin of conservatives everywhere, a majority decided that civil rights had to trump economic concerns. Therein lies the Republican Party’s problem. When they aligned themselves with social ultra-conservatives they left huge groups of voters either without a reason to vote for them or with serious concerns about what a vote for them would mean. Women voters, Hispanic voters, LGBT voters, and the voters who care about them. In fact, the only demographic in which Mitt Romney soundly beat Barak Obama was white male voters, and that is only a small part of the population that makes up this nation.

I have found my Facebook wall to be a disheartening place all week. People who I care about and respect calling Obama voters stupid and idiotic. The level of anger was breathtaking and says one thing loud and clear to me: Everyone is happy to live in a democracy when they are in the majority, but boy, if you find yourself in the minority, democracy doesn’t seem quite so rosy anymore.

And whether you agree or disagree, conservative social values are quickly becoming a minority viewpoint. I’m not making a commentary on whether those values are correct or incorrect; I’ve made my own personal feelings pretty clear in other blog posts, and I’m not in any way saying that anyone needs to compromise their values in their own lives. However, facts are facts, and as long as the social conservatives are speaking more loudly for the Republican party than the fiscal conservatives, Republicans are going to have a hard time getting elected to the office of President.

It’s human nature to want people to see the world as you do, and when we feel passionately about a subject it’s often hard to understand how anyone could feel any differently. Sometimes, though, we have to take a step back and see the big picture…to see the forest, not just the trees…to understand that there is the world we might wish we lived in and the world that we actually do live in. To ignore that is not clinging to your ideals, it is sticking your head in the sand.

If there is anything all of us can agree on it is that politics in this nation is a mess. Everything that gets done or doesn’t get done is about what it will mean in the next election cycle, and that brings me to the second part of the Republican problem. Their spokespeople say they want bipartisanship and our government to work together for compromise.

To which I say:

When President Obama and Governor Chris Christie were walking through the rubble of New Jersey a few days before the election, how did you feel? What did you think bout Christie’s respectfulness and appreciation of Obama coming to see first-hand the destruction of the storm? The photo ops?

Because what I heard was a lot of complaining about how he shouldn’t have done that and shame on him for not keeping his distance.

I thought it was great. Not because I think it made Obama look good (which it did), but because Governor Christie did the right thing, in spite of the flack I’m sure he know he was going to get because of it. It was about getting a job done despite major ideological differences. It was about Obama prioritizing a trip to help citizens who were likely voting for him anyway, and leaving other potentially more beneficial campaign stops to do what was right.

That is what is needed at ALL levels of government right now. Men and women who are willing to hurt themselves or help the other party to get done what needs to get done, because let’s face it, we won’t be able to go on like this for much longer.

Billionaires Behaving Badly

In honor of the fact that it is Election day and The Passionate Moderate desperately wants everyone to get out and vote, I am going to make this a very short little rant about two of my least favorite celebrities.

Donald Trump


Mark Cuban

Especially in the case of The Donald, I hate giving him any more attention than he already demands but in this case I feel the need to call him on the carpet. In case you missed it, Trump offered to donate $5 million to the charity of President Obama’s choice if President Obama shows his college application paying special attention to where he said he was born. Never-mind the fact that he has already released his birth certificate, and never-mind that the point is moot because he’s been the president for the last 4 years. Donald Trump has the audacity to demand that the POTUS jumps through hoops for him to prove he is eligible to hold the office of the presidency.

What an embarrassment to our nation. Truly, don’t you think other countries look at something like this and lose respect for us and for the office of the presidency?

Then, in an equally ridiculous dare, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Maverick‘s basketball team, offered $1 million to the charity of Trump’s choosing if  Donald will shave his trademark hair off. It’s all very immature and petty.

But was bothers me the most, is the cavalier way these men can dangle millions of dollars over our heads like it’s pocket change. Hey boys, if you have a few million to spare how about donating to the Red Cross? I hear they’ve got more work than usual on their hands. Or have you been to busy strutting around to notice?


(Well, more likely, Elephants.)

Shower the People

I dutifully posted a reminder on my FaceBook wall to watch last night’s final presidential debate.

However, I didn’t watch it myself, and here’s why.

I had better things to do, and not in the snarky sense of “debates suck and why would I watch” but in the very real sense of I had a choice to sit and watch my daughter practice for a band competition or watch the debate and I chose my daughter.

I’m a band geek at heart, so having a child in the largest marching band in the country is pretty exciting for me. They are also deep into marching competition practices which means they are working hard and perfecting every section of their show. And my daughter is a great marcher. And I love her. And I want to show her how much watching her do what she loves makes me happy.

The Allen High School Band at their last competition a week and a half ago.

I am most definitely not one of those super self sacrificing uber-moms. I wish I was, but I care too much about my own life to be totally selfless. (If you’re a fan of the Divergent books, you know I would never be in Abnegation.) I do however try to find balance between the time I spend on me and the time I devote to the people I love, and sometimes, the issues of the world just do not fit into that equation.

As much as I believe it’s important to be informed and news savvy, I also believe in retreating to that little cocoon that is my husband and kids…the rest of the world be damned.

This weekend an acquaintance of mine lost a child to SIDS, and an acquaintance of my husband was killed in a motorcycle accident. When things like that happens, it is human nature to stop and think about your own mortality and the mortality of the people you love. We can’t always live each day like it’s our last, but we remember to appreciate that the time we have together is limited and do our very best to enjoy it.

And that it why I spent my evening with friends and with great music instead of fuming over the TV.

And I don’t regret it one. little. bit.

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