Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Friday, September 11, 2015

Nobody's Child

My parents are both gone now. I'm too old to be an orphan. But I feel like one. Yet I can't claim that title because I am too old for it. So instead I tell myself that I'm nobody's child anymore. And that's how I feel. I don't have parents to go to when I need to talk. Or when I need someone to listen. Or when I just want to be with someone who loves me. That part of my life is over. I'm here alone and that feels so alien I can barely entertain the notion of it.

Yet this is my new normal. I'm going on with my routine, trying to maintain the schedule I always set for myself, but I don't feel "right" anymore. I'm flailing, if you will. It's like I don't have an anchor anymore. I'm afloat in life by myself and I don't like it. For the first time in my experience, I'm on my own in every sense of the term. 

I still have family members and I still have friends. Deep down I know I'm not alone but in my heart I no longer have the support system I always relied upon and I don't know how to continue without it. Life isn't the same for me. I wake up each morning, I get ready for work, I go to my job and I do the things I'm supposed to do. In the afternoons, I come home and have dinner and get myself ready for the next day. Just like so many others do. But I feel adrift because there isn't anyone to call or to check on or to just chat to like there used to be. I don't want to wear out my welcome with my friends, and there are some things you just don't want your family members to know you're feeling. So I'm very much alone in that respect.

I'm nobody's child anymore.

Being without my mother is a pain that I cannot explain. Only someone who's been through this event can know what I'm talking about. My mother was my best friend. She was the one person I could always turn to, who I could always count on, who I never imagined being in this life without. It is a physical pain to realize that I am without her. I've never had a broken heart this excruciatingly inescapable. I have a feeling the rest of my life will be marred with this knowledge. I loved my mother more than anybody else and being here without her is agonizing. But what choice do I have? None. 

And I'm left with the knowledge that things will never be the same for me again. And I don't like it. And I would give anything to change it. But I can't. I'll never have that sort of comfort available to me again. I'll always want Mama's warmth and her support. I'll always want to tell her the good and the bad things going on in my life. Yet I'll never have that security again. I'll never have the same relationship I had with Mama with anybody else in my life. That hurts like nothing else. I've never hurt like this before. And I don't know if, or when, this pain will ever go away.

So I'm back where I began. I'm nobody's child. I'm alone in a great many ways. Being the eldest child in your family comes with a burden that is hard to explain. You're the one who everyone looks to for the answers, the strength to go on, and the security that things will be the same in the family as they've always been. And you want to give them that assurance but you don't know how you can because you aren't sure yourself that you have it in you to offer anything to anybody.

I'm afraid. I have no one to turn to for the assurances I need so I can't offer any security at all to anyone I love because I don't have it to give. I have myself and that's all I can extend. Worse, I can't feel alright about myself because I no longer have the support system I always leaned on to get me through the uncertain times in life we all experience. I will have to face whatever comes along by myself. I won't be able to seek the same advice I always had to turn to anymore. Everything that happens, every decision there is to be made going forward, will be mine to own. And that's what scares me.

I'll have to learn to trust myself. I'll have to learn to accept my own judgements. I'll have to become my own somebody to turn to. But I don't want to do any of that. I want to have things like I always had them.

But I'm nobody's child anymore. And I never will be again. 

And that sucks. And I don't know if I can accept this reality. 

But what choice do I have?

These are the cards I've been dealt. I'll have to play them with whatever skill is mine to use. There is nothing more frightening than realizing this. Nothing. 

Nobody's child. That's me. 

Where do I go from here? I guess I'll just have to wait and see.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Religious Liberty and The Law of The Land

In following the saga of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed last week for being in contempt of court after ignoring a Federal judge's order to resume issuing marriage licenses in Rowan County, to both hetero- and homo- sexual couples, I found myself becoming more and more intrigued by the public's reaction to this situation. As expected, there are two camps occupying the issue: those who support Kim Davis and those who do not. I'm hearing all this discussion about religious liberty and the matter of how far it can be taken. Some people are saying that Ms. Davis was singled out because of her faith and her devotion to it. Others believe she was discriminating against same sex couples and using her office as a platform to flex her religious liberty. This has become a hot button issue that is playing itself out in the glare of the media spotlight. 

One thing most people are ignoring is the simple fact that Kim Davis is in jail for breaking the law. She is not incarcerated for being a Christian or for exhibiting her dedication to her religious beliefs. She hasn't been chosen as an example of anything other than what can happen when a person chooses to break the law. So many people are using her situation to exploit their own agendas, whether for or against same sex marriage, and bending and twisting the facts to suit their needs. It is yet another case of sensationalized journalism making more out of this than is actually there. Kim Davis willfully ignored the order of a Federal judge, even after the Supreme Court declined to stay his order, and in doing so she put herself in a position to be jailed. Contempt of Court is a crime. Plain and simple. And Ms. Davis is suffering the consequences of her actions.

I will typically applaud anyone who stands up for what he or she believes in. I think exercising our privilege of being a free nation is one of the most fundamental rights we have as American citizens. Our Founding Fathers designed a country where those who call themselves Americans can be at liberty to believe in whatever we choose, so long as it doesn't violate the law. And this is where my support for Kim Davis ends. 

I think it is admirable of her to state her opposition to same sex marriage due to the teachings of her faith but she has no right whatsoever to use it as a means to prevent other Americans from receiving their civil rights. And just weeks ago the Supreme Court ruled that the right to marry is something all Americans have and can enjoy at their own discretion. No one can say: 'Well, I don't agree with that because my religion is against it, so I won't obey that law.' You don't get to pick and choose which laws you're going to follow. Our legal system doesn't work that way. Not even for the religious. I wonder if Kim Davis refused marriage licenses to Jewish people because they don't accept Jesus as the messiah. I'll bet she didn't. 

Yet she did use her position to support her opposition to same sex marriage by deciding that her office wasn't going to issue any marriage licenses at all. This is where she overstepped her bounds. As an elected official, elected by the tax paying citizens of Rowan County, Kentucky, she has certain obligations to fulfill no matter what religion she practices... and issuing marriage licenses to the people who live in Rowan County is one of those obligations. It's in her job description. Not only has she broken the law by placing herself in contempt of court but she has also given the Kentucky state legislature all the ammunition it needs to impeach and remove her from office. She did all this to herself. 

What it boils down to is this: Ms. Davis has confused her Freedom of Religion with her duty as an American to obey the law. In doing so, she stubbornly refused to be redirected by a Federal judge and it cost her her freedom. The judge even offered her a way out of getting locked up by telling her that she could go free if she wouldn't prevent her deputy clerks from obeying the law and still she wouldn't accept that the law is the law no matter who you are or what religious beliefs you hold. She seems to think that because she is against same sex marriage she has the right to impose her values and ideals on everyone else in Rowan County due to her position. The only example she's setting is showing the rest of the world what happens to people in the United States who choose to break the law. 

Kim Davis is not a martyr. She isn't a champion of Christian morals. She's not Joan of Arc. What she is is a person who's in jail because she ignored the order of a Federal judge to follow the letter of the law. She didn't take into consideration that everyone has the same Freedom of Religion that she does or that hers doesn't supersede anyone else's. She tried to get away with breaking the law and look what happened to her because of it. 

Hers is an example of an exercise in futility. It is a classic case of why a person shouldn't try to do a job that their conscience can't accept because it conflicts with their religious ideals. Kim Davis had the chance to avoid jail by preserving her beliefs while also allowing her deputies to provide a service she felt she could not. And she chose to use her office to deprive others of their civil rights. In plain terms, she committed a crime. Now she has to pay for it. 

Religious liberty and the law of the land don't always complement each other. When they conflict for someone on a personal level, common sense should prevail. If your religion doesn't permit you to do something then stay away from whatever it may be that offends you. It's not that difficult to reconcile the two when you get right down to it. 

But to get back to my original intent in writing this piece, I reiterate that Kim Davis is not in jail for being a Christian. 

She's in jail because she broke the law. 


Sunday, August 23, 2015


Sometimes life just rearranges itself on you.

You wake up one morning and everything is different. The people who were the closest to you in life are all gone. You aren't alone. There are still family members and friends to support you and keep you  from feeling that you're just by yourself. But it's not the same. And it never will be again.

Life is a tricky thing. You get too comfortable in it sometimes. Your home, the people you love, the mundane aspects of your daily routine, the highs and the lows, all get so familiar that you fall into the trap of thinking it will always be this way. Then, when the morning comes that you wake up and everything has changed, you're left with this uncomfortable realization that you are actually in control of very little. That scares you. 

What's even more scary is knowing that you have to go on, trying to make a new path for yourself, trying to find a new purpose for yourself as well. I've been here before. Twelve years ago when my grandmother died, I didn't know what to do with myself then either. Yet I had my parents to turn to for advice. My mother was someone I could talk to about almost anything. I was younger then and the life ahead of me seemed somehow more exciting than it does now. I remembered dreams I'd had as a child and it occurred to me that I could make them come true. So I set out to do just that. 

I wanted to be a writer. A professional writer. With the aid of the internet I got involved with writers groups online and it all seemed to take off from there. I started a web magazine that was very popular for a few years. I got to interview some very famous people and become friends with many of them in the process. Friends who knew a thing or two about making dreams come true and who were more than happy to share their knowledge with me. Five years and four books later I felt good about myself and where I had gone in life. 

Then my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She needed me. I was there for her like she'd always been for me. It meant giving up some of the things that I had achieved over the past few years. As her illness progressed, I began having some health issues of my own. A heart attack that required stent placement and then later a herniated disk in my back caused me to get depressed. I had stopped writing almost entirely by then. The world was going on around me and I was stuck in this place where my world revolved around my mother, my health, and my job. A little at a time, I lost every last piece of the life I made for myself in the years after my grandmother died. I was back to where I started... with almost no life. 

Life rearranged itself around me again thereafter. Both my parents were gone and I had back surgery. I was home with nothing to do but watch TV and I avoided thinking about the future by focusing on trivial things. I realized I'm not young anymore. I'm middle aged and I have health problems that require daily medications to manage. I have a job that isn't really a challenge anymore because I've been doing it for so long that I've learned what to expect and how to handle the upheavals that come with it. So what do I do now?

I'm too old for this, I tell myself. I don't have it in me to find a new purpose in my life, I think. It's too much work to get back to where I was as a writer before Mama got sick, I hear myself thinking. It'll be easier to just go to work, watch TV, eat, and wait on my turn to go back to the universe, echoes in my mind. 

But that isn't what I want to do. I want to have my life back. I still have friends who can help me find my way into the future. I'm financially secure. I have a chance now to travel to most of the places I've always wanted to go in the world. I can plan for my retirement without having to worry about being one of those little old people who has to work at Walmart because Social Security isn't enough for them to live on. I'm doing okay with my health right now. My back problems are pretty much resolved and I'm stable on my meds. My family members are all supportive of me. I'm not alone. I have myself and I have all the tools at my disposal that I need to make my life happen again. I just have to do it. 

Life just rearranged itself on me. Again. It's time to pick up and move on. Again. I have to do something with myself. Again. I'd hate to think that where I am now is all I'm going to get out of life.  And it doesn't have to be all I get. It's my choice, my decision. There are too many years left to waste.  Let's see if I have it in me to redefine me. Again. I think I do.

We'll see.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

What The USA IS... And What It IS NOT

The United States of America is a Constitutional Republic, modeled after the Roman Empire in many respects, and is not a Democracy in the true sense of the word. Democratic principles are applied, such as voting and the representation of states and regions and districts in Congress, but if we were a true Democracy there wouldn’t be any need for things like the Electoral College or the Equal Protection clause in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. By fashioning this nation as a Constitutional Republic, our Founding Fathers organized a country which was meant to protect and serve all of its citizens, not the majority of them, and certainly not select groups who would put their own beliefs and wants above their peers. Avoidance of majority rule and ensuring against the tyrannical influence of sects of the populace is why we are a Republic and not a Democracy.

With this knowledge allegedly taught to all Americans while we’re in grade school, I am once again at a loss when it comes to how many of my fellow Americans don’t seem to understand how our country is organized and why it was set up this way to begin with. All this hubbub over Same-Sex Marriage is, quite simply, ridiculous when you consider the nation we call home and the cornerstones of what it means to be an American. Extending the legal rights of marriage to LGBT couples is no different than Civil Rights is to Americans who are not Caucasian. In case anyone is unaware, in many states a person couldn’t marry someone of a different race until the 1970’s. It was the same argument then as it is now. Two consenting adults who love each other and wish to be married have a fundamental right to do so, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. The 14th Amendment guarantees it with the Equal Protection clause. “Life, liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” is an American right that we all are supposed to enjoy. And not just opposite sex couples who might be white and religious. Anyone who thinks otherwise is Un-American in the very fabric of the word. The Equal Protection clause is also why the majority cannot vote away anyone’s right to be married, or anything else. See, once again, in a Republic, a majority rule is not allowed to dictate the rights of others.

And why did our Founding Fathers create a nation based on the principles of a Constitutional Republic? Because they were sick and tired of being lorded over by a Monarchy that presumed to tell them how to live and what to believe and which taxed them mercilessly without representation, maintaining control through the instillation of fear. They wanted to live in a country where the government was by the people and for the people and where all Americans could be treated equally with the same rights applied to everyone. Yet here we are in the 21st Century still requiring the law to maintain our country in the manner in which it was set up to begin with because we have so many people who want the USA to be something that it is not.

Let’s talk about state’s rights for a moment. When the movement to abolish slavery began gaining steam in Washington, many of the southern states seceded from the Union in order to not only keep African Americans in slavery, but also because they felt their rights under their state constitutions gave them this freedom. The American Civil War that followed was not only fought to ensure the freedom of the slaves, but to also preserve the Union and to establish the sovereignty of the nation over the state. In other words, Federal law always supersedes state law. Do you know why? Because it is the duty of the Federal government to maintain this country as a Constitutional Republic, governed by the Constitution and its amendments, where no state can strip away a citizen’s rights because a majority decides that they can’t have equality. That, again, is Un-American in the very fabric of the word. This is why segregation was ultimately outlawed and why schools and universities were required to open their doors to anyone who wished to attend them. The same principles apply no matter what the situation may be. Americans are supposed to be equal to one another when it comes to the rights we enjoy as individual citizens of the United States of America.

Lastly, a Constitutional Republic also excludes the influence of religious doctrine in its government. Why? Because now, as then, there are so many differing religions and belief systems and values based upon the doctrines of these religions that it would be all too easy for one to have a majority over another. You wouldn’t expect Jewish Americans to be forced to live by Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist, or any other religion’s edicts, would you? Certainly not. Religion is a personal matter where one chooses his own path to ensure his own spirituality. It has no place in a government that represents free citizens in a nation where equality is supposed to be guaranteed to everyone. Most of the Founding Fathers were non-theists anyway. They wouldn’t have dreamed of setting up a government based on or including religious principles. Instead, they established Freedom of Religion so that everyone could worship as he or she chooses, or not worship at all. In this manner, individual equality is again guaranteed.

Now, to anyone reading this, here is where I want you to pay attention and pay attention good. I am appalled to see so many of my fellow Americans insisting that they are losing their liberties and having their rights infringed upon. By extending those same rights and liberties to LGBT Americans, they are sharing them and you are losing nothing. You still have the right marry, to worship in any manner you choose, to believe what you want to believe, to vote for whomever you wish to vote for, to speak your peace without recrimination from the government. In other words, you still have the right to live a life of freedom. And so does everyone else.

And to all those elected officials and clergy representatives and ordinary citizens who are encouraging their families and neighbors to ignore the law and do what they wish, there are still laws on the books regarding treason, obstruction of justice, civil disobedience, and inciting others to unlawful behavior. I have a feeling that by confusing the adherence to these laws with Freedom of Speech, there are going to be some very unhappy Americans who are going to find themselves behind bars, charged with and probably convicted of Un-American acts. Your Freedom of Speech does not include rebelling against the government. That was, is, and will always be a criminal act.

If you don’t like the principles by which the United States of America was founded, move to Canada. (Inside joke I wonder how many people will get.)

If you do like them, enjoy your freedom as an American citizen.

Peace out.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Did You Know?

Did you know...
The very first Social Security check was issued on January 31, 1940 to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont, in the amount of $22.54. Ms. Fuller died in January, 1975 at the age of 100, having collected more than $22,000 in benefits. Ironically, she'd only paid in a little over twenty-four dollars in taxes to Social Security during her last three years working as a legal secretary prior to her retirement.
Pretty impressive, I'd say.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Issue of Marriage Equality

Hello, friends! I know, I know...I haven't blogged in a LONG time. To be perfectly honest, so much has gone on in the past couple years for my family and myself that I honestly lost the desire to write anything. Anything. It's been a hard road but it's one that has been a learning experience. Now, and for the past few months, with things settling down and me feeling more like myself, I have been getting that urge to write again. To express myself in the written word is something I've always treasured and have had some success in doing as well. So I'm back, for now, and hopefully to stay.
Marriage equality is a topic of which I've had some very strong opinions for the last few years. As of today, same sex couples can now wed in twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia. It's been a long time coming but the Supreme Court has finally begun settling the matter once and for all. The freedom to marry whomever one chooses is indeed a right. It is not a privilege for the religious. If it were, atheists wouldn't have been capable of getting married. This is, and has ultimately been deemed, a moot point.
I am quite perplexed by the arguments that religious groups and conservative Republicans keep giving about how allowing same sex marriage will enable some people, namely pedophiles, to claim their way of life as a right as well. It is mindboggling to me that there are people out there who can confuse the right of consenting adults who love each other to get married with the issue of children, who cannot under the American judicial system consent to sexual encounters, being victimized by adults who have questionable desires. I just can't quite make sense of that. The difference is too far apart between the two subjects to even consider. Consequently, I can only conclude that this argument is yet another tool being used by the Right to confuse the matter and hold up progress for those who are demanding equality.
Back in 2008, when California offered up Proposition 8 on its ballots, I remember having a discussion with my friend Danny on the matter. As a conservative Christian, he was understandably opposed to same sex marriage and felt that it was indeed a topic which could be settled by voters. I quite vividly recall telling him: "Wait until just one of these cases comes before the Supreme Court and there are going to be a lot of very disappointed opponents to this issue."
And I was right. The Supreme Court has a pretty good track record when it comes to fairly applying the law to all parties it represents. When circuit courts across the country began striking down same sex marriage bans as unconstitutional, as such bans prevent all Americans from rights such as their freedom of expression and the pursuit of happiness, the Supreme Court declined to hear arguments from states wishing to keep their bans in place. Effectively, SCOTUS said that the lower courts got it right and they had nothing to add on the matter. In the three weeks since their declination to hear these cases, the justices have cleared the way one time after another for same sex couples to marry as they choose. SCOTUS sent a powerful message with their initial decision.
What it boils down to is very simple. The religious or moral views of certain groups of Americans cannot infringe on the rights of others to exercise their own religious or moral views. You can't vote away the civil rights of those you don't agree with. If some people can marry at will then all people should have this same preference. You might not like it but you cannot stop it. I predict that within the next year same sex marriage will be legal in all fifty states and every US territory in the world.
I was very amused by the response of certain state governors and attorneys general after the SCOTUS ruling. Their defiant statements that they would "ignore" the Supreme Court's decision was ludicrous. I suppose they do have the right to go to jail for obstruction of justice, just as every American citizen has the right to marry the person of his or her choosing. North Carolina has already made its position clear on this matter. When a magistrate there refused to marry two men on religious principles, the state said that magistrates will enforce the law or be removed from office. One magistrate resigned, as was his right to do, just as the two men who were refused their civil rights have the freedom to marry.
Because it really is a matter of civil rights. It reminds me of the National Guard being mobilized to desegregate schools when states tried to defy the law in the sixties. Bigotry and prejudice are not tolerated in the eyes of the law. This matter is no different. People are what they are, no matter their color, nationality, creed, or sexual orientation, and they cannot be denied the same rights that others enjoy.
And for those who are still trying to argue that homosexuality is a choice, I always reply to them with one simple question. "When did you choose to be straight?" Shuts 'em up every time.
Marriage equality is here. And not just in the US. In countries all around the world, people are either already allowed or are being allowed to marry the partner of their choice and society doesn't mind. It is only those who feel that their religious or their moral views entitle them to decide how the rest of the world should behave who are up in arms over this. And they'll just have to learn to live with it. Society is not going to allow an injustice of this nature to continue any longer.

The absolute foolishness of the human condition never fails to surprise me.
And, as Walter Cronkite used to say every evening, that's the way it is.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

An Early Morning Walk

I went for a walk.
An early morning walk.
In the crisp cool air.
The beautiful sunshine.
The smell of freshly cut grass
And the singing of the birds
Kept me company.
To commune with myself.
To clear my mind.
To feel ready for the new day.
I could feel the beating of my heart.
The worries of life momentarily abated.
As I concentrated only on my stride
I knew that in these solitary sojourns
One can find himself
And feel at peace with himself
To the tune of each breath.
Just be.
I went for a walk.
An early morning walk.
And I felt...

Carey Parrish
4 May 2014