TEST: How Responsible Are You?

So… with my pet peeve on responsibility out there, I went in search of ways to test yourself.  Click here to try it out for yourself!

My result was 41.5 out of 44 and was explained as follows:

“Your score puts you in the highest category of social reasoning. You will see ethical and moral values as important to the needs of society and will appeal to basic rights or values. You might say “Honesty is a standard which everyone should accept” or “Life is sacred.”

Conformity to ethical norms is important to you, in terms of a responsibility, obligation or commitment for all individuals, although you may be willing to consider exceptions in some particular circumstances. You are likely to suggest that with entitlement or privilege comes responsibility.

You will appeal to considerations of responsible character or integrity in others, preferring a consistent or standard practice of behaviour in order to avoid damage to social institutions such as the legal system.

However, you will want to see an adjusted case-by-case application of standards for the sake of fairness to all people. Lastly, you are very likely to appeal to standards of individual or personal conscience, as well as of honour, dignity or integrity.”

 

P.O.I.S.O.N.

There is something dark and hungry lingering in popular culture today.  It is eating its followers one by one, taking them by overdose and heart attack, divorce and sex scandal, putting them in cells and graves and rehab centers and hospitals and mental institutions.  It is stalking and devouring, seducing and destroying, and the world sits enthralled by the drugged cotton candy of the rapist of its collective mind.

Another one hit the dust tonight.  The legendary Ms. Whitney Houston.  Songbird by trade and broken person in truth.  She is the latest of the giants to fall at 48 years old.  She was a mother, a wife, an addict, a fighter, an overcomer and then a victim.  A woman that should have been in her prime, a magnificent talent, a soul bruised and broken, chewed up and swallowed.

What is this beast stalking our mighty and tempting our children as we leave them in front of the television?  Is it the cocktail taken by Michael or the one taken by Amy?  Or is it the liquid sipped or powder inhaled by Lindsay?  What about the less fatal of these disasters – the golf club Tiger’s wife took to his face, the cursing Baldwin poured out over the phone to his little girl, the insane flight-of-thought ramblings of Charlie Sheen?

Pick your poison – something leads a person to a place where they drink it.  THAT’s the beast I’m talking about.  The thing inside that takes you to the dark side.  A pain, an inadequacy, a doubt, a guilt, a fear – all symptoms of the human condition.  And yet it is these inadequate human beings that our world chooses to worship…

One by one the leaders of entertainment entertain us with their venom-soaked death throes.  But not before getting into the minds of fatherless boys with ideas that manhood looks like five baby-mamas and a rap sheet.  And the minds of young professionals to say that they need a line of coke to relax.  Or tells the young woman that if she lets him into her body he will let her into his heart.  Of if he hits her he loves her (yes Whitney, honey, that was your message).  And hardworking people to say that honesty does not pay but holding up the corner store does.

It is poison and we sip it in the evenings with a bowl of popcorn and our feet up on the sofa after a long day at work.  Every time we turn on the TV.  Exposure to it infects us like any other communicable disease and spreads from the lyrics we cannot seem to get out of our heads to the words that come out of our mouths to the actions we commit only to poison others. 

Tonight an idol has died.  I will mourn Ms. Whitney – her Greatest Love of All was one of the first songs I learned to sing.  And she fought a hard battle with her own weaknesses.  I will mourn not only her beauty, her talent and her soul but the opportunity she missed to get it right and show the world by her example that there are paths other than the one that leads to a too cold, too young, too dead corpse on the hotel room floor.

May God have mercy and comfort for her family tonight.

Intoxicating Simplicity – The morning after

“Cincuenta guineos por veinticinco lempiras!”

Nena's stream

Everything is sold door to door.  Tortillas, ice, green bananas, cheese, a Ceiba woman can do all her grocery shopping from her front door.  This morning I am sat once again on the patio watching the rain reclaim the city that was once her worshiping forest.  The loudspeakers from well worn pickup trucks have passed twice now since I sat down.  The green bananas (guineos) were the last to leave and the truck was filled to bursting with stiff, milky fruit tight in their leather-tough green skin.  I was sure he must be confused – fifty guineos for twenty-five lempiras?  That’s just over a dollar for the fruit of several trees!

It has rained all night and shows no sign of letting up.  Today I was to go to the islands and to my Uncle and hundreds of unmet cousins.  But the catamaran that would take me over is likely parked in safe harbour right now.  There is bad weather between us and Cayman and the islands in between are getting a good taste of it.  Only the most seasoned islander would take to the ocean today.

But it is just as well.  Coffee is on the stove and semitas are coming with it.  I am rested and comfortable on the adirondack two-seater on the porch.

Nena is still asleep, her baby Monkey up close to her for warmth.  I slept in another bed under a heavy blanket with the image of a galloping stallion.  I had teased little Fiore that he would likely wake me up galloping in my sleep in my broken spanish the night before.  Still shy, or perhaps not understanding my torn up attempt, she smiled and nodded.  The breeze was cool with rain and I snuggled deep under the covers.

My orchids would love this place.  In fact, the orchidia brasavola is the national flower of Honduras!  There must be magic in the mountains for an orchid hunter here!  All around the garden and in the trees in the surrounding hills raindrops fall like diamonds and hang languid to the leaves until sliding slowly to the leaf below.  Each drop makes its way slowly to the stream that runs through the property to the left below the garden.  It is an aching beauty, an untamable wildness pretending to be domesticated, and an intoxicating simplicity.

Puentecito Nena - The Bridge Nena Built

Under my blanket I dreamed of love and believed it possible.  There is so much more space in ones being when messy clumps of the material life are stripped away.  Bills are gone, corporate struggles forgotten, conflict does not exist and all that is left are the basics of being.  The eating, the drinking, the laughing, the loving, the remembering of a childhood and reliving the things that made it great.

I realized today just how Honduran I have been all my life.  My family has always congregated on broken chairs and hammocks under the tamarind and mahogany trees sharing stories and laughter, jokes and pepsis, catamales and fried fish.  Much of what I always believed to be Caymanian is in fact Honduran.  The two are similar, don’t get me wrong, but there is a rawness and a boiling intensity to the Honduran that is missing in the other parts of my blood.

My hostess is an amazing woman.  Known as Nena to her community, she is a Chona – a follower of Visitacion Padilla, a feminist famous for the way she changed Honduras.  In her early 50s or late 40s (I wouldn’t dare guess which on this blog), my Nena is completing her qualification process to be an Abogada here in La Ceiba, a lawyer licensed to practice in a year’s time.  Bo, her son, is studying the foundation courses that will take him into medical school.  The little bridge that crosses the stream before we get to her house is called the Puentecito Nena.  There was a bridge before that washed away in a hurricane many years ago and she worked hard to get it rebuilt, lobbying local government, supervising the workmen and feeding them daily.  She is a woman of great passion, rosy cheeks and a huge laugh that fills her home and tickles everything in her orbit into laughter as well.  No one would believe the things she has survived.

Love is possible here...

Two children join her and Bo in her home, her neice and nephew.  Christian is in the early stages of his fight to manhood, a spicy boy of 13 with the makings of a man of power.  Fiore is tiny, doll-like, with flawless skin and beautiful brown eyes shining from an angellic face that bellies any suggestion of the mischief she can make.  She will be a knockout in no time.

The story of the Honduran home is evident everywhere you look outside these walls but Nena is an exception.  Not for her family the division of roles along sexual lines.  Life has taught her that she is capable of successes well beyond the imaginations of others.  Her family is a well oiled machine, her children capable and efficient, and her home powered by respect.  In other families the girl will run the home but the boy will need a wife to run his.

But love is possible here.  To my surprise today I see far less wrong with the lean of our culture, here in its natural element.  I see it as neither a lean toward man nor toward woman but toward an era that has passed by in my home and in Nena’s home but is the present tense with distinct heartbeat in most homes in this rainy land.

Barista de San Jose