Friday, February 12, 2010

Did Dante reserve a circle of hell for petty bureaucrats? If not, he should have!

Which petty bureaucrats have inspired my ire? City code enforcement. I hate the very fact that they exist and that they can legally put their sticky little fingers into my business. Not everyone agrees with this, of course. They would certainly be irritated if code enforcement came sniffing around their yard, but they're quite happy that someone exists that can tell Joe-Bob to put his clunkers on blocks in the back yard instead of the front yard, or tell Old Mary that she has too many cats and that she must get rid of them. This is right, this is necessary; who would make these people keep their property from becoming an eyesore and diminishing neighborhood home values, otherwise?

I've come to find this kind of mentality contemptible. If you harbor these beliefs ask yourself why you think the law should be able to tell people that they have to keep their yard just so, that they cannot have inoperative vehicles, that they must remove unsafe buildings or fix safety hazards on their legally owned personal property. Ask yourself why you think you have a right not to be offended by what you see on someone's private property. What if someone gets injured, you might say. To which I respond - strangers should not be on the personal property of someone else. Plus, there are already rules in place to help protect people in the event of injury caused by willful negligence.

Personally, I think all of these city code ordinances and homeowners associations were established by the kind of controlling, meddling, sniveling weasels that honestly believe they have a right to tell other people what to do, because if they don't, who will? the same kind that have helped establish our current Nanny state form of government. Not only do these rules help drive a further wedge between neighbors, they help squash concepts like charity or problem-solving. It teaches people that if they find something offensive that they have a right to have that offense eliminated, even if the offense is not on their own property and is not bringing them any actual physical harm.

Obviously this rant is inspired by something, so I will share the tale of how when I was pregnant with my daughter, I became too sick to be able to mow our lawn. This was during Florida's rainy season, and by the time my husband got up in the afternoon (he works nights) it would be too wet outside for him to mow. Our grass became thoroughly overgrown. Did any of our neighbors ever stop by to ask if anything was wrong or if there was anything they could do to help? No. They reported us to the city code enforcement. The woman that handles code enforcement came out, saw that I was pregnant but did not care, because our overgrown grass could be 'attracting snakes.' Really? Our neighborhood has at least two cypress swamps nestled in between houses, and a much larger swamp behind. Our small town is surrounded by acres of pasture land. But I'm led to believe that my neighbors current snake-free existence will be threatened by my overgrown lawn.

We did eventually get our lawn tamed, but not before several letters threatening fines, liens against the property, special hearings etc etc. plus at least one visit from the police and two from code enforcement. Am I the only one that thinks it is completely nuts that I could be legally fined $250-500 per day for an overgrown lawn?

Last November, my father-in-law kindly - but unexpectedly - thoroughly trimmed our oak trees for us. They needed it, but it was right before he and I were leaving for Tennessee. When I returned, my husband had not advanced very far on cleaning up the mess (sleep being a higher priority for him than lawn care), so I began working on it myself. Lo and behold, someone set code enforcement on us again. I got their certified letter demanding our yard be cleaned up a few days after the deadline given, shrugged and continued to slowly work on trimming branches to manageable lengths and stacking them by the curb for trash pick-up. A little while later, with the majority of the mess cleaned up already, I received yet another notice, this time requiring that we appear before a hearing with the 'special magistrate' to review our case. Included in this fine missive was the declaration that we could be required to appear even if the violation was corrected prior to the hearing, and that if we did not appear, the case would be decided without us.

Having no other recourse, since everything they were doing was perfectly legal, I finished trimming up the last two large branches that were left, my husband got up early and took pictures of the yard and then we both went to the special hearing while my father-in-law watched the children for us. I was amused to see that the chamber of commerce for our small town (population reported to be around 3,000) had a platform on one end with a half moon-style table with eight chairs, microphones, name plates and all the other trimmings that please the heart of the petty bureaucrats. The only officials actually present were the special magistrate and the woman from code enforcement. Our messy yard had merited its own folder and she shared the details of the case, ranging from when the 'infraction' was first discovered to the pictures she had taken, in January and the day before the hearing, showing that 'progress had been made' but that more needed to be done.

It appeared to come as something of a shock to her when my husband produced pictures showing compliance, which he handed over to the special magistrate to review. In light of this, code enforcement dismissed the case. While relatively happy with this outcome, I was still fuming over the fact that they could legally do all that in the first place.

My husband and I are agreed that if we ever get the opportunity to live elsewhere, we will make sure we're living outside the city limits!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

You know, I read all this stuff, and I agree with it, but I think it all misses the point. It sees the symptoms but not the disease. Yes, we have sullen, angry, detached, undisciplined young men. But they are not the problem.

The problem is the girls and women. Girls and women who grow up to learn to despise, to hold in contempt, to fear, to exploit, and yes, to hate boys and men. Fix them, make them make room for the masculine half of the world, and I think the problems with the guys largely go away.

Our problem is that our society no longer makes room for the masculine. The yin has overtaken the yang. We are out of balance.

From Elusive Wapiti on Double-Minded Man's Blog

Really? This sounds exactly like Adam in the Garden of Eden, responding to the Lord "It was the woman you gave me!"

Why, when and how did feminism rise to its current position of power? Were men truly helpless against the tide of feminism? Were their hands tied, or did they willingly abdicate their position of authority?

Does the daughter of a righteous man that walks humbly before the Lord grow up to be a feminist man-hater?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Reading this inspired me to ruminate.

I have not darkened the door of a church in over a decade now, except to attend weddings.

The last church I attended with my mother was innocuous enough, and was peopled with a congregation that seemed nice. Yet every service I went to left me with a sense of horror, of wrongness, that had me feeling physically ill; so much so that I would either have to leave the building, or go volunteer in the nursery.

I still do not know what the cause of this was. A person could certainly make the case that it was the rebellion of a teenager against the religion of her mother - except that I never abandoned my faith in God, or my belief in the truth of the Bible.

It is possible that it was simply a reaction to the hurt and anger I felt from the break-up of my parents' marriage several years before, and the church leadership of our former congregation that were responsible for driving my parents apart after they had tenaciously weathered a difficult relationship for nineteen years.

Or perhaps I am not crazy and was picking up on the spiritual state of the American church, which these days seems to greatly resemble the Jewish religious leaders of whom Yeshua said

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness."

I am aware of that portion of scripture that instructs us not to forsake the assembly. My husband is as well, and has talked from time to time of finding a church to attend. This has always brought back the memory of feeling ill, horrified by something that I could not see or identify, merely sense. The more I have witnessed and the more I have read, the more convinced I am that the people congregating inside the buildings we call churches are seldom true sons and daughters of the Living God.

Monday, February 08, 2010

I want to write. I want to form words into pleasing sentences on interesting topics that will capture and hold the attention of the reader.

Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, we often get so little of what we want. This is not always a bad thing, though. I talk to my children, even when they are too young to respond, or comprehend my meaning. I recall telling my eldest, while he was still a crawling infant, that I could not let him have something for which he was crying because it would not be good for him. At the time, I was brought up short and wondered to myself if the answer to many of my prayers has been the same. Five years later, I tell my eldest that just because his little brother is not being obedient, does not excuse disobedience from him. Worry about yourself and do what I told you, I say, and then have to grudgingly acknowledge that this bit of advice applies to my own life as well. (I am fairly certain that God established parenthood as a way of helping us learn about our own relationship with Him.)

So now here I am. I know, in my head, that I need to be obedient to God and behave in a manner befitting my role as His daughter. Putting this knowledge into practice is so much harder.