Speak out

You gotta stand up for what’s right; you gotta fight with all your might and never let them out of your sight.

Never give up; never give in; when you quit; you don’t win and they persevere; they thrive on your fear.

If we don’t have our say they’re here to stay and with our votes we can make them go away and make this a better day.

But we have to make ourselves heard even when we’re bored with all the rhetoric and the lack of respect; we expect better from our leaders. We gotta be avid readers of the news and use it make a difference in this world and do something instead of staying at home curled in bed. So do you get the jest of what I’ve just said?

Dave

 

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Trauma

 

I was talking to someone the other day we were talking about the Kavanaugh hearing; I missed a good deal of it ,but I saw some highlights online. But he mentioned how they kept asking Dr Ford about details of the night when she was allegedly assaulted and she kept saying she couldn’t remember details. And people are so quick to say she isn’t telling the truth or maybe it was someone who attacked her but it wasn’t Brett Kavanaugh because she can’t recall every single moment of this traumatic event. And it their callous attitude towards her that shows they have a complete lack of empathy about someone having to relive such a painful experience. I want to say that I have never been sexually assaulted; I have no idea what the pain of that is like, but I understand trauma very well. When that policeman came to my house and informed us that my brother was dead ; that was trauma; my life changed forever. The whole day is a blur; I can remember some things like being whisked away to the park and coming back and seeing all my friends there but that’s it. I have no idea what they said or if what I said to them; or if I even talked to them at all. So if someone asked what happened that day in detail I couldn’t tell them anything from that day; except being confused and angry. Trauma comes in many shapes and forms and affects people differently. And here’s the thing: trauma doesn’t go away; whether I talk about it or don’t talk about it; I’ll always have that trauma and I can’t get over it and shutting down only makes it worse. And so even if you haven’t experienced trauma first hand; you can see someone in pain and feel for them and try to put yourself in their shoes. You can do that, right?.

So why is it so hard for others to believe someone that is so clearly traumatized by this event that Dr Ford went through? Why do we judge so harshly and doubt this person. Why? Because she can’t tell every single little detail after the attack? She was nearly raped and you expect to or her to tell you who she talked to next; who drove her home; how long she was in the room until she escaped? You have to be kidding me. This young girl was traumatized; scared out of her mind; confused; probably in a state of an anxiety attack ( and those are very really by the way) with her heart pounding out of her chest. That is trauma and if you can’t have empathy for someone like that; than I don’t know what to tell you.

I know it is very difficult for me every time I write about my trauma ( although I feel better after) I can’t imagine someone dismissing what happened to me or minimizing ; saying it wasn’t as bad as I remember. How do you know? You weren’t there; inside my head; knowing what I was feeling. I used to think that if you hadn’t been through that trauma you have no right to talk about it; I don’t think that way anymore. I think we all need to talk about these things because it’s healing but as long as its done from a place of love and compassion. I made an earlier post about how someone had told me my brother’s death was an accident and how angry that made me. Other people have messaged me saying how much they cared about my brother and they miss him and how his death affected them. You see that is a difference. That asshole in Baltimore was saying this to me because he was insensitive cruel person ( and fortunately that has rarely happened) With the other people talking about my brother; it is out of love and not malice. Just listening to Dr Ford’s testimony and hearing the fear in her voice and the effect it has had on her 36 years later; I instantly knew that this woman had trauma and this hearing was making it worse; it was heartbreaking to watch. It’s heartbreaking how we treat each other sometimes; I think we can do better.

Dave

Why I believe women

This has really been a rough week for so many; with the Kavanaugh hearing; a lot of people are triggered and emotions are running high.  I actually have to admit I don’t have cable news ( or even a TV for that matter) so I miss out on a lot of the details; I read headlines on Facebook and hear people talking about it but I don’t get the full picture.  The news is just so negative and full of drama that I have a tendency to just shut out the news because it’s too much; too many players; too much arguing back and forth; it’s not good for my mental health. That being said I have jest of what these hearing is about; Judge Kavanaugh is being accused of attempted rape at a party in the 80s in high school  ( a pretty serious accusation). A lot of people these days are being accused of sexual assault; it’s seems like a celebrity or politician is being accused of sexual misconduct each day; and a lot of them have surprised me (Charlie Rose, really?)  And while I am shocked and have empathy for these women that are accusing these men; I don’t know them personally so it’s easy to not get emotional because I am looking at as outsider who has never been sexual assaulted and can’t fully understand that pain; but a lot people have   ( as I have been finding out recently)

I find myself to be a very sensitive man and have met so many caring women who have been there for me in my life; I admire their strength and courage. I admire how they express their feelings ( some not all); how they show empathy; how they are usually to ones who speak against the injustices of the world..  So when I hear about men who abuse women; my heart breaks because I can sense the pain and anguish the actions of these men cause; the trauma inflicted on these women is life long. I understand trauma in my own way and I have empathy for them because i am a human being who cares about others; but there are so many others in this world that are insensitive; they can listen to a woman describe unbelievable trauma while recounting being sexually assaulted; hear her voice quiver; hands shake and tears rolling down her eyes and not blink an eye.  To them it’s all in act to smear the name of good family man; it’s scam; a political ploy; instead of a woman speaking her truth. And then I hear some say “Well why didn’t they come forward earlier?’   Well who wants to relive that trauma in front of a courtroom ( mostly made of men ); have your sexual history on display; be called a liar and told that it didn’t happen and  say that you just want money or attention? Why go through all that; especially when you are a teenager.  Being bullied as a kid I can remember being ganged up on and when I told the teachers; they told me to just ignore it and it made things worse. I learned not to speak up because it didn’t stop the bullying and no one was going to help me anyways; so I just learned to put up with the bullying because i had no choice.  I use that as an example of trying my best to understand why women take so long to come forward ( if they ever come forward at all). Just typing this now makes me feel angry; I feel angry so many men doubt women; so many men say so many disrespectful things towards someone who has been through sexual assault; why are they so quick to judge?. And do so few men stand up for women? That’s my question.

For a long time I didn’t speak up because it wasn’t personal but last year after the allegations of Harvey Weinstein were brought to light; I started seeing all of these statuses from women that said “me too”.  I had no idea what that was about; I later found out it was women sharing that they had been victims of sexual assault and harassment; and all of sudden most of my female friends were making “me too” posts; it became personal. These women who were my friends and who I loved were sexually assaulted or harassed at one point by men in their lives; that hurt deeply; I really felt for them. Soon some of them started sharing their stories in more detail and I started to realize how many women were affected by this and how so few of them ever came forward and their seemed to be a recurring theme: fear, fear fear.  Either they were threatened  or didn’t want to get his male in trouble so they held it in for years and years. Now by sharing this they have nothing to gain; they aren’t taking these guys to court; they are speaking their truth so other women don’t feel so alone; and they’d have no reason to lie.  I thought about that; a lot of these accusers are coming forward 15-20 years later; way past the statute of limitations; so they can’t charge this guy. Why would a woman put herself through that trauma all over again; be called a liar in front of everyone; have her sexual history questioned and gain nothing legally from it; if she wasn’t telling the truth, right?.  I don’t know; I don’t have statistics and figures; I can only speak from the heart and I believe a lot of women coming forward and I commend them for being so brave; because it takes guts to stand up against powerful men who think they are entitled to sex and see women as solely sex objects with no feelings or worth.

I want to finish this post and talk about a family member who I have not seen since she was a little girl; we actually share the same birthday; she is exactly 6 or 7 years younger than me.  I don’t talk to that side of the family so I don’t know about any of them.  But I was told that this member in the family was sexually abused at a very young ( 7 or 8) and it was shocking; especially since I had met the boys who had abused her for years.  I just felt so furious and had so much hurt in my heart; knowing that cute little innocent girl who was funny and who i went to the pool with and talked with her  had been through unimaginable abuse. I can’t describe how it makes me feel except sick. Even though I have no contact with my family; I do love her and she crosses my mind from time to time. I caught up with her on Facebook about a year ago. I messaged her a few times and I could tell she was struggling; she didn’t work; had ptsd ( related to the abuse); and it wasn’t like talking to an adult; it was like talking to a little girl. I realized that the abuse was so bad that emotionally she remained 7 or 8 years of age.  I didn’t think it was appropriate to be talking to her; even online so I cut off contact with her and any other family I had on Facebook. But when all this talk of sexual abuse comes up; she does cross my mind. And she’s isn’t lying about the abuse and didn’t tell anyone for years; long after it had ended.  I tend to believe most women who come forward because in a  rape culture such as ours; I believe that there are many more men out there capable of sexual abuse than I had previously imagined.   I hope to continue to be the kind of man who speaks up for women; comforts women; is friends with women; and never stops believing women

Thank you

Dave

 

 

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First day volunteering

Today was such an incredible day today. In my previous blogs I talked about a volunteer opportunity with my church that helps the disabled. I really wanted to be a part of it but I was frustrated because I was concerned because I have an erratic work schedule; I was thinking that I would have to work on a day that I wanted to volunteer; I have missed so many things due to being stuck at work and I feel bitter about it.  I thought “I could be out there making a difference but instead I’m stuck here wasting my life away”; I was in a negative space.  My mom told me they had all sort of volunteer opportunities during the week and I finally decided to contact them; they were excited to hear from me.  The organization are run by a mother and daughter who have someone disabled in their family; which I think is the sole reason why they started up the disabled ministry in the first place.  But they are both so incredibly nice and enthusiastic and they made me feel so welcome.  I am blessed to have met them; to connect with those who are passionate about helping the disabled and by observing them I could tell they really cared about the young adults with disabilities; they were so kind and I was impressed. It was a totally different vibe than my experience with my internship; which at times felt really negative. I wonder if being a Christian organization makes a difference; I’m not quite sure.

So on Thursdays at my church; they have a lunch that is served by the disabled; they prepare the food, take the orders and do the set up and clean up and let me just say they do an incredible job and the volunteers are so helpful. We started out with a little bible study and it gave me a chance to get to know the young adults I will helping out. I then helped them set up before everyone rushed in.  I ended up working in the kitchen area; helping a young man who was washing dishes; I dried ( easy enough).  I basically made sure he stayed on task; which is funny because I am the last person that you’d ask to help someone stay on task lol ( ADHD anyone?) But it went great and we really got along.  To be honest I have always worked well with the disabled; they are easier to be around than non-disabled people; to be honest.   But it was difficult keeping him on task because I trying to keep myself on task but I will improve; I promise haha.  But it was a lot of fun.

I just feel so blessed and I know God is working in my life. I prayed for an answer; a way of helping others so that I wasn’t so self centered and depressed; God came through.  I have my ups and downs but God has never given up on me and I think about all the people in my life who I have loved and are there for me. And I feel this volunteer opportunity is a chance to meet new people and be of service to others; what could be better than that?. I pray that God allows to continue with this ministry and that I continue to be positive.  I am a very lucky man; not everyone has the amount of support I have or the opportunities to make a difference.  I think my 36th year is started out to be a very good one.

Thank you so much listening

Dave

 

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Being a man in the age of the #metoo movement

I have stated many times that I relate better to women; I feel less comfortable talking to men. Lately I have seen numerous stories about sexual misconduct; the latest being a pastor groping singer Ariana Grande at a funeral for Aretha Franklin in front of a nationwide television ( it’s enough to make anyone sick to their stomach). As someone who writes about the power of God and how one can benefit from spirituality; I find this particularly troubling. Men are using their power to manipulate and control women in order to make sexual advances towards them. Being someone who is less dominant and never been aggressive with women ( anxious and needy at times but never aggressive). While rejection hurt; I never blamed the women who rejected me; I looked within myself to see how I could improve myself and in turn improve my chances; which I hope is a healthy attitude.  I hope I have become a man that respects women; because I  try not to cross boundaries and am consciously aware of how my actions are perceived ( much more now than in the past).

But we live in an age where the metoo movement is a trending topic in the news; women are understandably wary of men who are too friendly. I wonder at times if my friendliness could be misinterpreted as something more or if I’m chiming in on conversations I should stay out of. I don’t get a lot of opportunities to meet women in person that I’d be interested in getting to know ( you don’t meet many people working in retail); I find my interactions on social media ( including my blog) are mainly with women; some I know and some I don’t know.  I often wonder if I comment on a woman’s photo that I don’t know well; does she think I am try to come on to her when in reality I am just trying to be friendly? I comment on anything I find interesting especially if it’s a fellow writer. I don’t know

Some of interactions with women offline I admit can be awkward. I was at a poetry reading and there was a young girl and she recited a poem relating to metoo; afterwards I walked up to her and shook her hand and told her I really liked the poem she wrote  ( i shake everyone’s hand out of habit) she gave me this upset look and said nothing; I walked away thinking I may have overstepped my bounds; I didn’t mean to; I was just trying to be friendly but I maybe shouldn’t have said anything. I tend to over analyze situations like that. Another time I was out at a bar late at night and I was dancing with this beautiful woman and we were dancing close. Without thinking I put my hand on her shoulder and she backed away and excused herself; I felt so bad. She had every right to be upset; I did it out of ignorance and not malice. I realized I shouldn’t have put my hands on a woman like that and that would never happen again. I wonder how much of these mistakes are related to being on the autistic  spectrum and failing to recognize social cues; I am really working on these things.

I really do try to be respectful of women and try to relate to them but these days as a man you have to be careful because so many men pretend to be kind and respectful in order to make sexual advances towards women; that isn’t me. I just realize how as a man; I need to think more clearly before I act. I mentioned this in a Facebook post and a friend said that the fact I am even questioning this means I am respectful of women and she observed how I talked to my female friends and assured me I was fine ( as far as my online behavior was concerned). Its something that bothers me and I hope the females I communicate know that my intentions are always innocent and that I have never behaved otherwise.

Thanks for listening

Dave

 

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Depression doesn’t discriminate

Depression doesn’t discriminate; it doesn’t give a fuck about the color of your skin or how much money you have or who your friends are ( if you even have friends at all)  Depression doesn’t care if you are a man or a woman or a child  or  you speak another language or you’re mute or if you’re like me ;talk a mile a blind. Depression doesn’t care if you’re straight or gay or transgender or have no preference at all. Depression gives zero shits if you are a democrat or republican or a socialist hippy atheist living on welfare. Depression doesn’t care if your employed; unemployed; living on the street or a yacht.  Depression doesn’t have a look; the happiest guy in the room could be battling depression every day and you’d never know it.

No one is immune from depression and it is not your fault; it isn’t a character flaw; it’s a chemical imbalance and no one asked to get this. That being said you can take steps to manage your depression; meds and therapy are a start. Reaching out to others when you are lonely is another wonderful way. Writing is a perfect example of getting your feelings out. Taking care of your body ( exercise exercise exercise!) will in turn help your mind and calm some of that anxious energy ( it works, i know)  Depression sucks and I say all this because I suffer from it and I hope by being open about my depression I can help others.  I hope that I can show people that by ending the stigma of depression; we can get the support we so desperately need and hopefully gain some understanding from others. Because damn is my depression back and damn do I feel lonely.  I say all of these things to myself because it makes me feel better and the best way to express my feelings is to write, you know; sometimes it’s the only tool I have.  As I said earlier depression is terrible but I don’t have to let it control me. And I hope someone reading this takes comfort in the fact they are not alone; we can get through this.

Good night,

Davie

The disability ministry at Church

Today was such a wonderful day; as most of you know I have been very passionate for a long time about helping those with developmental disabilities and am in school working on a degree in human service/developmental disabilities. A part of that passion comes from the fact that I got special needs services from the time I was a small child; I am so blessed that at that time ( over 30 years ago) there were people who were just as passionate about helping children like me as I am with the disabled adults I have had the pleasure to work with over the years; it’s amazing to give back.  I am also blessed to be part of a church that serves the developmentally disabled  in many ways; there is actually a ministry dedicated to helping the developmentally disabled in the community and when I heard about that I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of that somehow.  I have made a lot of changes in my life. There was a time; not long ago; in which I said I would do this or volunteer or help with this and I never followed through; things are different today; when I say I am going to do something; I will try my best to make that happen.

So today was a lunch served by those helped through the ministry; it was wonderful to see them interacting with people; feeling a part of things; being productive; I just was smiling seeing this because some of the kindest most wonderful I have met have been disabled in one way or another. In fact if I had a choice between spending time with disabled people or non-disabled people I would choose disabled people;  they are a hell of a lot much nicer and much less judgemental overall than people that don’t have special needs ( some; not all. I don’t like making generalizations) I sat next to a lady who had been to the lunch before and she was explaining some of the things they do out in the community; the activities through the church; I was impressed. She was also very friendly and I was glad to be seated next to someone who cares about this community. Her daughter was also there and was also interested in helping those with special needs; I told her about my internship and that it serves the many needs of the disabled and I gave her the card I got from there. Even though my experience was bad there; I hope she finds it rewarding.  Actually my internship experience soured me a bit on getting into the disability field, but after talking with people today; I feel more positive about it. I think if I can just connect with the right people I can be successful; like anyone else I just need the right guidance It is refreshing to be around people who care so much about serving those in need; I am not around people like that on a regular basis. I went with my mom because she knew a lot of the people there and she introduced me to some of the leaders there. I talked to a young woman who’s mom founded the organization; she was very friendly and I enjoyed talking with her. I told her about how i was in school to get a degree in human services and she seemed very enthusiastic. She told me to email her and the other leaders about what times I can volunteer. Sadly I work retail and my schedule is erratic to say the least but I will talk to my boss about making time for this ministry because it is important.  I am just so excited to be a part of this; I feel this is God’s calling for me.  And I love to be around people who as passionate as me and who want to help others. I am just at a loss of words at how happy I am right now. Truly a God moment.

 

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Late at night thoughts before bed

Late at night I replay the days events; things I wish I could have said and things I regret saying; unspoken zingers; radiating out in the form of mumbles with my head to the floor looking at my two left feet. Like Dylan once stated ” I got a head full of ideas and they’re driving me insane”

The thoughts swirl around my head like a hurricane of ideas and theories which will only be published in the magazine of my mind; where I am the only subscriber; 35 years strong; this publication.

My body aches from a hard day’s work and my mind is mush from the symphony of chaotic noises I must endure; endlessly on repeat; ad nasuem. In fact ,I wonder when all of us are gone; who will be the one to turn down the radio of consumerism; since no one is there to buy their concept of happiness; no one  to half heartedly sweep the floor; while the old men up top; chomp cigars and crunch numbers.

If this is freedom; than walk me back to my cell; where I can be alone; twiddling my thumbs until I am released and able to be a free man. Just leave me be; but do me a favor: can you at least give a notepad and a pen. I’ll send out my writing to a trained pigeon to spread my word of despair to the masses.

And by the way none of this makes sense to me either and that’s the way I like it.

Be cool, my friends.

Dave

 

A PSA about disabilities

I have the most amazing friends on social media especially those who are involved in helping those with developmental disabilities; a part of the population that oftentimes don’t have their needs meet and in my personal opinion are treated poorly by people who don’t understand them or the obstacles they face; that is why this post my friend made on Facebook was so moving; as soon as I read  it ;I knew I had to share it with my blog readers since I am so passionate about helping those with development disabilities. It is really is a beautiful post….

The other day my son and I were shopping for some back to school clothes for him. A very chatty sales associate stopped to ask if we needed any help. I politely replied “no” but noticed he was kind of lingering. He asked me a couple questions about my tattoos and I quickly noticed (from my own exposure/experience) that he was developmentally disabled. So, he kept asking questions and I kept answering them. We ended up discussing the fact that my son went to a school run by a mental health agency in our county and he expressed he worked with a similar organization in town that helped place people with disabilities with suitable jobs. He paused to help other people and I immediately noticed how other people were uncomfortable talking to him and really tried to avoid him. It made me really sad because he was so incredibly friendly and willing to share things about his life. Some of his questions may have felt intrusive to others but, I understood that he was merely trying to engage in conversation and give good customer service, so I indulged him. We looked at shirts longer than we needed to…him to my right with a beaming smile and my son to my left, crouched on the floor, semi hiding and whispering his answers to questions asked so I would respond for him and he didn’t have to make eye contact/talk with a stranger.

In that moment I realized just how beautiful neurodiversity is and how I was sandwiched in between two very obviously loving people with great curiosity, developmental disabilities and different ways of navigating public situations. Neither was fazed by the other’s behavior. I expressed to the man that my son and I had disabilities as well and that I was really happy for him that he found a job he liked and made him feel useful. Before we parted I shook his hand and thanked him for his help and made sure to tell him I thought the store was very lucky to have him as an employee and that I thought he was really good at his job. His face was beaming. I bumped into a manager on the way out and made sure to tell them how pleased we were with his kindness and help.

My point is…I notice a lot of times people shy away from those who they recognize as having intellectual or developmental disabilities. I understand that sometimes people simply may not know what to say. The trick is…you say whatever you would say to someone without a disability. You say hello and make small talk if you’re in the mood and you thank them for their help. I don’t know how many people take the time, even a few moments, to engage this man – from what I witnessed no other customers did. In all fairness my son and I do seem to magnetically attract people with varying disabilities which I always find interesting because none of us are wearing signs that scream, “We’re disabled!” I imagine it must be some type of subtle energy or openness that others pick up on. I feel blessed to have that. I feel good that perhaps we were a cheerful part of that man’s day. It doesn’t make us special or better than anyone else, just as having these varying disabilities don’t make us any less. It makes us human. It’s not that difficult in the least to simply treat people humanely.

Fear of the unknown shouldn’t stop us from reaching out or taking a few moments to engage with a stranger. You never know what beautiful things you may have in common.

Later that afternoon I had the pleasure of spending time with an amazing young woman with Down’s Syndrome and we had a great time in public as well…I noticed “the looks” and I purposely ignored them. She wasn’t looking for input from others so it didn’t matter and she is fiercely independent and self assured…which I absolutely LOVE seeing! My favorite part of that experience was when she asked me the lyrics to a song, I sang about 3 words, she turned and looked at me very seriously and said, “ok. That’s enough.” I laughed but explained I wasn’t laughing at her, it was her sheer honesty that made me really happy and I agreed with her that I did not have the best singing voice! 🙂

Be good to each other. Step outside your comfort zone

When God calls us

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I work retail and therefore it a rarity that I get a Sunday off; luckily today I am not working and was able to attend church with my family. I think church is important but at the same time I feel God is everywhere and I don’t need to go to church in order to follow his word. But today being at church  was especially important; the church I attended is very active in helping the community and there is a program that helps both children and adults with disabilities. I talk a lot about getting into the disability field on my blog; it is something I am very passionate about; I prayed for God to give me the opportunity to help with those who have disabilities in any way I could and this is my chance. After the service I talked to one of the volunteers and gave him my contact information; I hope to be able to part of this very special ministry that helps the disabled.  I think God gives us all gifts and I feel like his gift for me is sensitivity towards others and a desire to help people in need; I have gone most of my life not using my gift but it is better late than never. I feel this is God’s calling for me. I find when I listen to God my life changes in miraculous ways for the better.  When you volunteer and be of service to others; you not only help others but you help yourself as well. I used to be in 12 steps and the one thing people would say to me is to get out of self centered thinking is to help another person. I am no longer in 12 steps but I did take that concept to heart. When you focus on ourselves we don’t do anyone any good.  Helping others helps us grow as people and become closer to God and that is where I want to be at this point in my life.

I also feel God is calling me in other ways.  I was driving home from church and thinking about visiting my friend and reading her daughter’s writings who is about 16. I thought about the poetry reading I went to where the best poem was read by teens; young people who spoke from their heart and had a lot to say. I think of myself at that time; I was a troubled teen. I acted out; got kick out of school, had lost my brother and was having a lot of issues. Regardless of circumstances it is really tough to be a teenager these days; they have a lot of feelings they can’t express; they feel unheard; and think they oftentimes feel alone ( even though they aren’t).  A part of me would in some way help young people; maybe teach them ways to cope.  I am not sure how I would achieve this or if it will ever happen but I think I have a lot to offer; a lot of experience given how I struggled at their age.  To me nothing happens by accident and I was at my friend’s house, at church today and at the poetry reading for a reason; there was a message I supposed to be hearing.

When I think about how my life has taken such a different trajectory in such a positive direction is a miracle and it can’t be explained in any other way except that God is working in my life. And when I talk about God; I don’t talk about religious doctrine or even church; I am not here to point the finger, judge, evangelize, convert, or stand on a soap box and preach morality. People are free to behave and say whatever they want; for me God is more about have compassion for others; learning to forgive; and that God put us on this Earth to help others because that is what gives him joy. So I feel blessed and will continue to walk down this path that God has layed out for me; he has yet to steer me wrong.

Dave