Authoritarian Followers

Authoritarian Follower: An individual who, for whatever reason, accepts what an accepted authority tells them, regardless of whether or not it makes sense.

Compartmentalization: term describing the ability of authoritarian followers to keep separate the ideas, given by their authorities, that prove each other wrong.

There are different causes for this inability to comprehend reality. One of the more common involves severe punishment of very young children for asking questions or not accepting the statements of their parents. When a child feels like it is in danger, due to anything ranging from frightening yells and screams to extreme “spanking”, because it challenged the words of their parents, they develop a survival mechanism called compartmentalization. This allows them to not have to ask questions, and risk the hurt or fear of hurt they were (usually repeatedly) subjected to. These children become Authoritarian Followers, following the authority of their parents, regardless of their parents accuracy. As the children get older, the mantle of authority gets passed on to the religious and political leaders the parents themselves follow. The fear of questioning is a directly attached to their sense of survival, so anyone trying to reason with them causes a fear reaction, usually masked as anger.

This pattern is often found in members of the fundamentalist churches who teach “spare the rod, and spoil the child”. Political power mongers, realizing the power in numbers, have played on these peoples inability to question discrepancies and turned them into the “religious right”. Their political views are about as full of misunderstanding and deceit as a religion in which Jesus teaches kindness and compassion, but who’s followers practice abuse of their children and hatred for those Jesus said to love.

This is how the Tea Party was formed: by playing on that fear of questioning authority, regardless of how ridiculous the claims may be. I have to remember that their anger is really fear, so I can pity them, instead of hating them.

Published in: on November 3, 2011 at 9:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I exist here (ST: DS9)

I exist here”

 

It was a truth that Commander Sysco had revealed to him in the second episode of Star Trek: Deep Space 9. “Here” was the memories and emotions of an event three years before, part of which involved the death of his wife. As I see it, this is the perfect, simple explanation of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Sysco lived in the day to day world, but he existed in the memories of that event, that trauma that he just couldn’t move past. It affected (and effected) his day to day decisions and his interpersonal reactions.

 

He had attempted to explain how humans live in a timeline (the aliens didn’t have a concept of time), and by their understanding, since his thoughts and actions stemmed from and kept returning to that time frame, he did indeed exist there.

 

As a sufferer of PTSD, that idea is terrifying in its accurateness. In those times my mind can’t get past, I do indeed exist there. 

Published in: on September 10, 2011 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Crying Toddlers and PTSD

During that time that could be either the middle of the night, or early morning, depending on perspective, a toddler in my apartment complex unlocked their front door, climbed down a flight of stairs, toddled over to our breezeway and started crying outside my bedroom window. I thought it was the little girl upstairs, and Shelly assured me that she was probably just sick, and her grandma couldn’t console her. I tried to go back to sleep, but the crying had triggered one of those emotional responses that only those who have suffered from something like PTSD can understand. I had heard those scared toddler cries before. My sister used to cry like that when my father had turned his attention to her. The crying continued for some time; it could have been a few minutes or a few hours, I honestly don’t know. I wrapped myself around my wife, and tried to ease the anger/panic/sadness that was drilling into my head and wringing out my stomach. I couldn’t tell if I was conscious and having a panic/PTSD attack, if I was asleep and having nightmares, or some combination of both.

Our diagonally upstairs neighbors looked out the window, and saw the unescorted toddler, and tried to find the parents. Only one apartment has unidentified people in it, so it wasn’t hard. I assume that the reason they didn’t answer their door when an attempt was made to return their child was that they aren’t supposed to have all the people there in the apartment, and they didn’t realize that the toddler was out of the house. The police were called, and they arrived, all during my failed attempt to control this flood of emotion circulating throughout my body.

The police knocked on our door, and I think they rang the doorbell. I got up, threw on some shorts, and peeked out the peephole. They had moved on by the time I got to the door. Shelly went to the window, saw the police car, and asked me what was going on. I stepped out into the breezeway to hear to figure out what was going on. I was not there long before our diagonally upstairs neighbors started back up the stairs. They stopped and let me know what happened, and while we had a brief conversation, a man from the toddlers apartment was placed in the back of one of the police cars. The outside drama was concluded.

Neither my wife or I were ready to attempt sleep. We did what has now become our usual thing, which is to retreat to our individual computers and try to block out the world. She with her timer games, and me with my combination of researching whatever (this time researching clarinets and flugelhorns), and piddling around Farmville.

My wife decided she wanted to watch a “True Blood” episode, but I just wasn’t up for it – too much anger and posturing, and I was having too much trouble with my roller coaster of internal scream. This was a good example of her issue and mine not meshing. We had a quick discussion about how she needed to do something, I couldn’t deal with the anger of that show, but wanted to connect some other way, like playing a card game. She told me that she felt disconnected since we left a bad situation 2 years ago. I think it went back farther than that, but it really did get more pronounced then. I need to connect. I need to reach out so I can regain control over this out of control buzzing of anger and panic. I zoned back into the computer, because I couldn’t get my thoughts to form. She laid down and went to sleep, probably feeling ignored (upon editing this for spelling and tense error, she informed me that it was a feeling of guilt, because she was in the midst of her own issue, and couldn’t bring herself to reach out). I am not 100% sure, but I am pretty sure that occurrences like this are why counselors say that couples who both have PTSD have a difficult time. I started to do the thing I usually do when I give up on connecting, but still have to occupy my mind somehow. I sat down to play on the computer. Unfortunately, Farmville lost its interest.

So here I am, trying to gain control through listening to jazz and putting this all down on virtual paper. I look over at my wife, and all I really want to do is curl up around her, and lose myself in the comfort of a snuggle. Unfortunately, I realize that if I do, I will probably be comforted enough to give into the exhaustion and fall asleep, and then enter that world of memory and projection that has become what I have instead of restful sleep. Somehow, even this little bit of writing has killed about 3 hours, and I am now relaxed enough to feel the exhaustion. I will probably end up giving in to that snuggle urge shortly. Hopefully this time will be a bit different, and I will get some decent sleep. After connecting the sound of that scared toddler to scared toddlers of my past, I doubt sleep will be restful.


Published in: on September 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Growing Up Conservative

I fully recognize that my religious and political beliefs mesh together very closely. It is hard to describe one without the other. This text was written to give others an understanding of how and why I believe the way I do, and to document the “why”.

I grew up an Air Force brat, heavily involved in Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) and Southern Baptist churches. These denominations form several vertebra in the spine of ultra-conservative politics, and more often than not, politics and political activism are, by design, blended into the teachings received from the pulpit.

Many of my earliest memories occurred in IFB churches. From first grade until the last quarter of 6th grade I was educated in an IFB church school. In my most formative years, life revolved around a religion that was about as conservative as one could possibly be. Even though I was six at the time, I followed the “read the Bible in a year” chart that the adults of my church were following. When things didn’t make sense, I asked questions. I used Ungers Bible Dictionary (a staple in Conservative Christian circles) and my mothers Thompson Chain Reference Bible to try to understand the whole picture. Using the Bible as my definitive source, and Ungers (a source accepted by many conservative religious leaders) to explain cultural differences, I developed my beliefs on what Christianity should be. I asked questions, got answers that involved “you take that passage to mean this”. Often, to my child’s mind, the official version just didn’t match the actual words.

I thirsted for the ability to make sense of it all. I read the passages listed in the weekly bulletin for the following Sunday’s sermon. I read the passages necessary in the “read the Bible in a year” chart. I came into church ready to learn and understand. If something didn’t make sense, I asked questions. Lots and lots of questions. I was a nerd, even at the beginning of my elementary school career. I asked such difficult questions that at the age of 6, my pastor, Pastor Shattuk (sp?) told me that he just wouldn’t discuss religion with me anymore. He retired shortly thereafter. I used my mothers Chain reference Bible (which had links to other similar passages in the margin) to try to understand and make sense of it all. I attended Christian school. I was taught conservative Christian values from every direction.

I learned. I studied. Math and science were awesome! They allowed me to see how things fit together. I liked seeing the pieces of the puzzle of learning fit into the proper spots. When they didn’t fit, it bothered me. I read. I asked questions. My first/second grade teacher encouraged my desire to learn, and introduced me to encyclopedias, dictionaries, and library books. “Cause and effect” came to life for me. She encouraged my search for how and why. Mrs. Teterude, wherever you are, I thank you for your understanding and patience. If I could nominate Saints, you would be one. My fate was sealed. Since then, little would stop me from trying to make sense of things.

I had a different teacher for third through sixth/fifth (not a typo, explanation to follow) year. Mrs. Downs started out much like Mrs. Teterude, encouraging my curious mind. Unfortunately, not only was I the classroom nerd (complete with era appropriate black plastic glasses), but I was also the poor kid who was there on a “scholarship”, meaning that we attended the church that hosted the school, and even though we couldn’t pay the tuition for this private school, they let my sister and I attend, so as to protect us from the evils of the secular world. The only other scholarship children that I remember were a rather shy girl (and for a short time, her foster sister), and the children of the missionaries to the local Native Americans. Nathan Adler, the missionary kid, decided to take great and frequent pleasure in bullying me. He was quite skilled at timing things so I was just standing up and preparing to defend myself when any adults were able to turn to see what was going on. In that world, Nathan was untouchable. He was a Missionary kid. By default, that made him devout, trustworthy, and above reproach in the eyes of the adults. My school life took a serious turn for the worse. This was the beginning of my “discipline problems”. When I defended myself, I was taken to the principal, who believed Nathan’s version, regardless of any evidence to the contrary. The rips in my pants and the skinned up knees from hitting the pavement meant nothing. Not actually true. The hole in my knee meant I didn’t conform to the dress code. Nobody bothered to try to remember the condition of my clothing when I arrived. The punishment for “lying” about “the innocent, falsely accused” Nathan was to be forced to drop trou, grasp my ankles, and take blows from a 2×6 with shaped handle, and holes drilled through for extra speed in execution. A minimum of 3 swats from a grown man, swinging this board as hard as he could. Letting go of your ankles or losing balance resulted in starting over. Worse was happening at home, and my father usually used this as an excuse to repeat the process with his belt when I was home. When my mother tried to reason with the principal, Mr. Fried’s response was to berate her for challenging a missionary’s word, and to accuse her of neglect, because she wasn’t taking proper care of my clothing. The more obvious it became that I was the wronged party, the quicker and more harsh the punishments were. It was my first experience with the “accept only the parts that fit the preconceived notion” mentality.

Third through sixth grade was a swirl of learning this, and asking about that, all while avoiding the painful reality of my status as a social outcast, and refusing to accept that my bullying was indeed my own fault. That was my problem. I refused to just curl up and give in. I refused to let my spirit break. I kept asking questions, I kept trying to make sense of the overall picture, I kept fighting: fighting to learn, fighting to understand and fighting to defend myself against my bully. Learning occurred. Teaching occurred. Then, during my 5th grade year, I was consciously introduced to politics. Before then politics revolved around keeping the Military strong to protect us from the Communists who wanted to take away our ability to worship God. Now, there was a liberal in office (Carter), and God punished the USA for it. Innocent members of our great country were captured and held hostage by a country under the control of a Satanic religion called Islam. This was God’s way of showing our country the error of allowing sinful liberals to have a say in our country. Our country was corrupt enough with the conservatives. Liberals were knowingly in league with Satan, and were turning our country over to Satan and his Muslim minions. I was angry at these liberals for letting our country get so damaged, and I was scared. Was it going to be the communists or the Muslims that burst out from under our beds, grabbed us by the ankles, and dragged us to hell? This was an actual worry of mine. I was taught to worry about this! Later, I was better informed. Nobody was jumping out from under the bed, but there would likely be a homosexual that would try to kidnap me off a street corner and take me to straight to hell. It would be funny…if it weren’t what I was actually taught.

At the first teacher conference of my 6th/5th grade year, Mrs. Downs complemented me on my maturity, telling my parents that talking with me was like discussing things with another adult. Then, later that same school year, I embarrassed Mrs. Downs by asking a question about how one thing we were taught as science a few weeks before did not work, according to the rules of science we were taught, with this other thing we were being taught as science. She became rather upset when “because that’s the way God intended” was answered with “But you said God made these rules of science, and they show otherwise”. She started screaming at me, grabbed my ear, and dragged me to the principals office, where I was punished in the usual way for disrupting class. There were days of upheaval that ended with Mrs. Downs and Mr. Fried demoting me from 6th grade, back to 5th, since I was obviously too immature to handle being in 6thgrade. Since 3rd through 6th grade were being taught all in the same room, by the same teacher, the location of my desk didn’t even change. My grades were not called into question; my outcast status was. To this day, since it had no effect on what I was being taught, how I was graded, or even where I sat, I believe that it was a tactic designed to shame me into compliance. My thirst for understanding how things work wouldn’t let me comply. It became a battle between me, my teacher, and the truth. My mother tried to help, but couldn’t do anything. Close to the end of the school year, I was given another lesson in politics. Communists were trying to take over Space, so they could put up satellites to launch nuclear weapons at us, and we had to boost the military and the space program to stop them. Once again, liberals were trying to stop us, and the Communists raining fire from above was going to be part of the Second Coming of Christ. Once again, liberals were handing us over to Satan.

Something happened at the end of the third quarter of my new 6th grade year. I don’t remember what it was, but my mother pulled me from that private Christian school, and I finished my new 6th grade year in the public school on the Air Force base. Anyone who has not been immersed in that life really can’t understand what it took for a woman to stand up to church leaders like that.

That summer, my father’s orders moved us to mid-state New York. I spent 7th and 8thgrade in public school. I was still an outspoken outcast, poor, and with all sorts of unusual beliefs from my separation from society in general. I did well in classes, but not in society. I spent more time confronting bullies about their mistreating of me and others (followed by the inevitable fights) than I did learning. My mother finally had enough, and home-schooled me for my 9th and 10th grade years, using a Christian based curriculum under the guidance of one of the IFB church schools located an hour or so drive away. She would try to get us to the actual school at least once a week. Once again, I was introduced to politics. We were allowed to watch TV to watch history in action when Challenger was launched and exploded in mid-air. That next Sunday, we were told how this was, once again, God reaching out, and letting us know that the liberals were pulling our country apart. This was God’s warning for us to stand up and fight against liberals, who were trying to get research done to cure that disease that God sent to wipe out homosexuals and their evil from the face of the earth. Basically, God blew up a space shuttle because liberals were fighting for funding to find a cure for what we now call AIDS.

My father retired. We moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As usual, my father found a small IFB church. My mother finally stood up to him, and insisted on attending the larger Southern Baptist Church from her childhood. It was the most conservative church in the area that actually let women have an opinion, so long as it was with other women or children. Now, not all liberals were in open alliance with Satan; some were just very misguided people who Satan had misled. Gays were still evil, and they were still trying to take everyone to hell with them.

There were people in the church that saw our home life, and helped my mother get away from my father, which was a horrible, but necessary sin. My mother tried to support us on what she could, but we became some of those people who fell between the cracks. We experienced life. We were now poorer than we ever had been, and my mom tried anything to keep us afloat. She accepted government assistance, and shortly thereafter, we changed churches. I suspect the two were connected. We went to a few churches, but never found a place to settle in.

I was in public school. Math was still wonderful. Science started making more sense. As science started to make more sense, I found myself in a position to recognize that if one changes their expected result to match the facts, instead of “accepting only the parts that fit the pre-conceived notion”, then the overall picture CAN make sense. I applied my “cause and effect” thinking to almost everything. I was finally able to find out from liberals what they believed. Believe it or not, there were actual Christians that were liberals. I was still a conservative, but I realized I had a lot of thinking and research to do. I grew up rooting for President Reagan, and I voted for Bush, because we couldn’t let liberals continue to let our country be taken in by those Muslims.

I went to college to fulfill my dreams of becoming a medical doctor bush pilot missionary. I enrolled in the “pre-med” track at the University of Southern Mississippi. I went to the Baptist Student Union. I wasn’t comfortable. I went to church once with a pentecostal girl-not-really-but-kinda-girlfriend. I was unsettled. I caught Mono, and not in the fun way, either. My grades plummeted. My dreams were dashed. I went back in with a new dream – elementary education. The Reagan/Bush policies didn’t pass “cause and effect”. Because the “effect” was pretty directly in negative correlation to what it was supposed to do. I lost my conservative politics. I had to question everything. I had a crisis of faith. I tried very hard to be a Christian. I reread the Bible from front to back, like I used to before, except I did it in a few months. I realized that the direct words of Jesus, minus the “this means this” from the pastors painted a much different picture than I had been taught. Everything fell apart. My political beliefs were proven wrong, my religious beliefs were proven a sham, and the “Truth” I had been taught was so superior was now just a collection of traditions instead of facts. I was devastated. I stayed with the teachings of Jesus, instead of the teachings of Christianity. I picked my head up, and I looked around. I saw a common thread in many religions that was similar to what Jesus taught. I applied the words of Jesus to my conservative religion, and realized that more often than not, it was in direct violation of Jesus teachings. This was a point I had been fighting against my entire time growing up, but now I had to accept it. Both the teachings of Jesus, and simple “cause and effect” reasoning made it impossible for me to be conservative. Both the teachings of Jesus, and “cause and effect” reasoning made it impossible for me to be what was called Christian. Search for the truth made me liberal, and that same search for the truth took away the entire structure of what I was taught. I tried to keep my original faith/politics, but they failed me. I lost my faith in organized Christianity. I did not, however lose my faith in God. I began to see God working everywhere around me. I examined many organized religions, but none of them fit. I kept my awe of God, and something started to click… I was finding a spirituality outside of organized religion. I was finding a core truth that resonated throughout most religions, until people in power started shaping religion to direct those with less power. I settled into a faith that God shows up in nature. Sometimes I talk to God directly. Sometimes I drum, and let the vibrations connect me with God. Sometimes, I just don’t think about it and go on with life. All are valid. I have settled into a shamanistic approach to God, with the morals I found in common with most religions… mostly the messages Jesus was trying to teach, that get so altered in the process of “which means”. So I am still an outcast, and I am still looking for “cause and effect”.

Morally, I follow the teachings of Jesus (without the hype), because there is a universal truth to his teachings. I am no longer a Christian, even though I follow the teachings of Christ much closer than those who claim to be Christians. I also follow much of the teachings of Buddha because they reflect the same universal understanding. I follow the teachings of many pagan religions, also because they reflect the same universal truths.

The end result is that religiously, I am shamanistic, because I it feels comfortable, it feels right, and it makes sense to me. Politically, I am liberal, because it works with “cause and effect” reasoning, and I no longer have to ignore facts. Now you know how I went from an uber-conservitave Christian to a liberal drumming bear.


Therapy animals

Paul Begging

Paul Begging

I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For those who don’t already know, PTSD is basically an inability to re-adjust after some sort of trauma. Our brains and hormones stay in a state that cause symptoms ranging from general irritability and nightmares, all the way up to paranoia and flashbacks that separate the sufferer from the current time, and put their minds back in the time when whatever caused the stress was occurring.

Luna Tongue Napping

Luna Tongue Napping

This is less about the PTSD, and more about how wonderful having pets can be. In my case, they would be called “therapy animals”. We have four cats who also suffered abuse, and Greybo still has issues. They earn their status in various ways. Paul calls in his high pitched, grating meow, flops down on his back, and dares me to rub his belly. Petting cats does indeed help lower the agitation and calm a person. Luna rears up and headbutts or “attacks” me until I reach down and “wrestle” with her – she loves to play.  Or she just flops into your lap and starts purring as loudly as she can, as if she is daring you to not be happy. Piwacket loves to rub her cheek on toes. I suspect she had suffered brain damage before we stepped in, and she tends to leave drool behind on toes, or the side of the fish tank when she tries to catch fish. Greybo usually stays up on some hard to reach “safe” spot, or hangs out with my son.

Greybo Hiding

Greybo Hiding

I suffer from a variety of PTSD related issues, but the one in question now is nightmares. I have nightmares almost every night. Some nights, they are constant. I woke up yesterday after such a night. Usually, after such a night, one or more of the cats will come in and attempt to work their particular form of magic. Evidently, the other cats ganged up on Greybo, and made her come in. Not being familiar with comforting, she adopted a method that worked. She combined everything in a fast, quick repetitive procession. She head butted my knee like Luna, made a quick cheek rub on the side of my foot like Piwacket, yowled at me while arching her back to fall on the floor, exposing her belly like Paul for a split second, and then rolled back up to headbutt my knee and start over again. It was obvious that she was trying to reach out to me like the other cats. It was also obvious that she did not understand a single bit of how it worked. The effect was endearing and comical. My heart reached out to this fellow sufferer, and her antics made me smile. The agitation subsided enough for me to start a more functional day.

Piwacket Fishing

I appreciate these cats. They are our family. They reach out to us, just like we do for them. They love us, and we love them. Everyone should know that feeling. Pet a cat. Scratch a dog… just don’t try to snuggle the fish.

Published in: on August 24, 2011 at 5:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How To Make A Conservative

I have heard many people wonder how far right conservatives can believe the things that they say. It is conditioning that starts when they are very young. Not all of the far right grew up exactly like described in the video below, but it explains how they can believe the lies, half-truths and mismatched facts that they keep regurgitating. I grew up similar to the lady in the clip. When people hear me (and, I am sure her) describe what life was like, they usually don’t believe it could happen. It is actually worse. The point here is that kids that are exposed to that kind of training learn quickly to not question authority. They also grow up thinking that now that they are adults, they are allowed to force their will on others, like they had done to them. Not all conservatives went through as bad as the video describes… But try to imagine someone growing up like that, with the willpower to have the audacity to actually think something through. Only a few of us manage to have independent thought. The rest join the Tea Party.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZsb8sVp68U&w=420&h=345

(Embedding disabled on YouTube’s end – follow link above to watch clip)

Published in: on August 19, 2011 at 10:02 pm  Comments (3)  
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Does Spanking Teach Respect?

Due to an inability to sleep comfortably, I decided to get up and check the status of some of my Facebook conversations. One of them included the comment “parents need to bust their kids ass when they get out of line. i think we all respect our parents for that.”

People often mistake fear for respect. We have been taught to confuse these words. Respect is a recognition and and acknowledgment of ability. Fear is worry. Spanking causes worry about a repeating spanking. Spanking causes worry about being hurt if they repeat whatever it is that caused the spanking to begin with. The only respect a spanking can cause is a recognition and acknowledgment that the person spanking them can hurt (or embarrass) them into submission. Spanking is, quite simply, a bigger human using physical violence to subjugate a smaller human. Spanking causes fear, not respect.

Children learn respect by seeing their parents work to accomplish things. They learn respect by recognizing the sacrifice and work their parents parents put into raising them. They learn to respect the love and care their parents show them. They learn respect by figuring out “why” parents set boundaries.

Sometimes, children push the boundaries. Sometimes, using physical force is a valid way to enforce these boundaries. An example of appropriate use of physical force is when I smacked my daughters hand away from the hot stove when she was little; sometimes physical violence is necessary to protect them. Another example that I feel was appropriate use of physical force was when my son crossed his arms across his chest and said “NO” when I had sent him to a timeout on his bed. He found himself running to get to his bed to get away from the smacks I delivered to his defiant little butt. Now, he knows to accept the punishments he is given. The first example was necessary. The second example was me, as a parent, not having the intelligence to see a better way to overcome his defiance.

My kids are good kids. They aren’t perfect, but they are much better behaved than many of the kids I see today. Some of that good is because they know that I am bigger than them, and that I will enforce my expectations (fear). Most of that good is because I have taught them that the boundaries are set for real reasons, and they understand that those boundaries were set because of my knowledge and my desire to protect them from harm (respect). The only time they even think about getting spanked is when they are considering open defiance (or lying, which I have told them is the same thing as open defiance). My kids will usually follow the guidance I give them because they have learned that there are usually good reasons for it. Children taught mostly by spanking will follow the rules they were given until they think they found a way to not get caught.

Summed up: Spanking doesn’t teach life lessons, and it doesn’t teach respect. The only real thing spanking teaches is fear. Sometimes fear is a useful tool, but if you want respect from your kids, you need to use it sparingly, or not at all. Use your intelligence and your example, instead of your muscles, to teach them real respect.  


Published in: on August 1, 2011 at 9:18 am  Comments (3)  
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