Monday, April 8, 2013

For No Reason

My nephew Jay was shot and killed this past weekend. (some details still being determined)

I’ve been struggling with my feelings and not sure what to do.

He was 46 and our encounters were few over the past 20+ years. For me he will be forever frozen in time as a teenager.

He struggled with and survived a potentially life-threatening illness as a teen. I recall getting the Cleveland Browns – the REAL Cleveland Browns – to sign a t-shirt I could take to Jay in the hospital. I think one of the players called his room to talk to him.

After his hospital stay he came to live with us for a few months of recovery. My memories are then of his purple underwear (going through a “Prince” phase”), always wearing a knit hat to bed to keep his hair in place and “whatchamacallit”; his favorite word as a placeholder for when he couldn’t think of what to call something.

A few years before that, he, my brother-in-law Charles, and I spent a few days camping in Big Meadows along Skyline Drive in Virginia.

I’ll try to hang on to those good memories as I think of him the next few days.

R.I.P. John Jay Robles and condolences to his daughter, sister, brother, mother, father and extended family.

Friday, April 5, 2013

What will the Supremes do next?

Given the way most people seem to take sides on this issue, the following musings will no doubt confuse and/or anger people on both sides but, hey. I like to write my thoughts down. It helps me figure things out as I go along.

Until the Supremes decide and issue their rulings in a few months, the contentious and polarized debate will continue over same-sex marriage and DOMA.

Earlier this week I saw this headline: 48 percent of all first births are now to unmarried women. This from a report (available in many places and forms - here's one) by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, and the RELATE Institute.

Regardless of your side taken on the SCOTUS cases and your moral or spiritual persuasion this has to be a troubling stat.

It was fellow Missourian Mark Twain who had a quote about lies and statistics but for now I’ll keep it clean and accept that number at face value without parsing it too much.

Without falling into the same trap as former Vice-President Dan Quayle did with his Murphy Brown comment perhaps 20 years ago, I realize some of the situations are not the mother’s exclusive fault and many of these women who make up this 48% are perfectly capable of raising a child all by themselves, have decided this is what they want to do and are doing a first-rate job of it.

But most people would agree that this is still not the ideal scenario. I spent more than half of my formative years in a home without a mother so say what you will. Single fathers are also perfectly capable of raising kids too – just fewer of them ever try.

My point is that maybe before we get on our soapbox about the sanctity of marriage, we need to look at what it means and doesn’t mean in today’s society and what led us to where we are today. Is it marriage that needs fixing or something else? Perhaps something more and bigger?

Seems to me there are broader cultural issues in play here.

Maybe there are bigger fish to fry than determining exactly who or what constitutes marriage. In other words, where should our emotional and spiritual energies be targeted these days?

As I find with so many things, nothing is simple. There are numerous cause-and-effects going on with marriage, single-parenthood and other pressing social issues we face.