Seventy-one and a woman who’s seen mighty change—internet, cell phones, and one step for mankind on moonscape. Veterans of WWII branded their stories on my young soul. That damned McCarthy caused me to look for communists neath my bed. Viet Nam tattooed my innocence. Patriotism, plated as political righteousness, challenged the rage against dying and peace movements—Gandhi dared Patton philosophies wrestling for ethos. No winners, just battle-worn heroes. Now drums the social-till-doomsday-shrill-media robbing weak heads of free thinking—new mind control. Fear like rain cuts rough, new gullies of hate, fear and rage. Peace lost not on a battlefield, love in surrender to hate. Godly abandoned in rallies, the modern lion’s den, truth’s death. Long serving soldiers dismissed for truth-telling. A Medal of Honor bestowed on a bigot. Romney the lone statesman. Loyal, weak servants rewarded and righteous, strong saints defiled. Labeling knowledable elitist. Labeling brown other. Labeling good hearts feeding hungry folk socialists. Villainous! Rise up you virtuous patriots. Be the strong voice of right. Rise up still Christians and claim the mantle of kindness. Rise up to speak! Rise up to vote! Rise up!
I am a baby boomer, born shortly after WWII. Throughout my childhood I heard the stories soldiers told in their living rooms, stories about riding on ships, their wounding, the friends they held while dying, the skeletons (as one man said, “…flesh hanging on bones”) walking away from the newly freed concentration camps.
History and civics were taught with vigor in those days because we knew the price and fragility of democracy. Hitler was voted into office, so we had a duty to study the candidates and make good choices.
I watch the impeachment of Donald Trump and think back to Richard Nixon’s impeachment. I was in my twenties and making calls for the local Republican Party. I knew Richard Nixon was innocent. I watched the trial day after day, as obsessive as I am today about justice. When I realized he had committed the crimes, I was devastated. I felt a personal sense of betrayal, not because I was a Republican, but because I was an American.
I wondered in 1974, as I do today, how anyone can take an office as powerful as the Presidency and not feel humility. It is like holding a sparrow with a broken wing in one hand and a nuclear bomb in the other.
Democracy is a fragile balancing act. Only a fool sitting in the Oval Office or in a congressional seat would place personal gain above freedom.
These times challenge saints more than sinners.
Fear and anxiety accompany worship and school attendance.
Slowly we move into democracy lost or renewed.
Our children will live on a dying planet or learn stewardship.
This journey will make heroes and villains of us all.
Must we relinquish control to madness?
Some frantically compose FB posts to vent their anger –
posts with scripture to counterpoint side against side,
posts to request prayer – pointed and raging – self-defeating peace,
posts with cartoons screaming louder than words.
Must we become what we hate in others?
If my voice is the loudest, am I right?
If I manage to trample on your rights to protect mine, am I right?
If I belong to a party, does my membership make me right?
If I rationalize without facts, can I proclaim truth?
Have we seen these behaviors play out in history? Perhaps.
The Crusades. Germany. Turn neighbor against neighbor,
religious sects in pious rebellion abandon values long held,
citizens dehumanize the immigrants, the disadvantaged, women.
Like Legos in a three-year-old’s hands, we are breaking apart.
I refuse to conform!
I have the power not to be evil or angry or hurt.
I will speak truth in a quiet voice, but I will speak!
Perhaps, someone will join me and two of us will be free of hate.
Awesome power. All I control is me.
Fall takes on new meaning as we age – the thought of the approaching cold, final winter of our being. Not a depressing thought, just part of the journey.
We have seen many changes over the decades, especially the relationships between men and women. As a liberal woman championing the women’s movement over the decades, I am pleased with the changes. My husband Ken, a conservative libertarian, defends a man’s liberties and finds himself in conflict with a woman’s rightful discernment/definition in a relationship.
This morning over a hotel breakfast, Ken and I listened to the news. The “Me Too” movement is celebrating their first anniversary today.
I said, “The problem with men is that they see everything as ‘all about me’ rather than listening.”
Ken looked at me with that you-have-two-talking-heads-and-neither-one-makes-much-sense side glance.
“For example,” I said as I added syrup to my waffle, “My hip hurt last night, so I rolled over about 3:30 a.m. to sleep on the other hip. You decided to cuddle. By 4:00 a.m. I am unable to sleep and lose an hour playing Sudoku while you continue your blissful rest.”
“You nudged my back twice. You wanted to be held.” Ken looked hurt.
“At 3:30 a.m. I am not thinking about you or being held. If I were thinking at all, it would be about sleep. Which proves my point. You thought when I rolled over in bed it was about YOU! Really?”
“What does this have to do with the Me Too movement?” Ken asked.
“Everything. I remember working when I was young and attractive. I was busy with office work all morning – filing, typing a report, preparing for a meeting. About noon a man in the office said, ‘I love the way you flirted with me all morning. What a turn-on!’ I barely knew he was present because I was focused on my work. It was all about him. Idiot!!!”
“Maybe you were not aware of the vibes you were giving off,” Ken insinuated.
I snapped back, “I win. I have the blog.”
Ken said, “Yeah, SHE who writes the history wins.”
Ken reached over and stroked my chin. We both started laughing.
Fall is in the air. Change seems to be slower to reach fruition than the winter of my days. Understanding may never be fully achieved, but surely we can continue to love good men and good women throughout the journey.
For younger women, seek justice as I once did through organizations, politics and personal conviction; but do not lose patience with kind men who only want to hold you on a cold night in October.
I weep for….
…battered women cowering in shells.
…abused women with the courage to speak truth.
…PTSD women who go to work with the feeling they may die.
…all women vulnerable to powerful men who pay no price for brutish behavior.
I weep for…
…good men who stand for their mothers, sisters, daughters and wives.
…bellowing men wielding power in our congressional halls.
…abusers who are soulless.
…boys who will never know the love a strong woman
because they take with privilege.
I weep for…
…churches that once stood for morality.
…the churched who once spoke love.
…pulpits that once displayed the cross rather than a FOX News banner.
…worshipers, who once shared the communion of truth and kindness,
now raging in hate.
I weep for…
…my country disrespected throughout the world—literally a laughing stock.
…democracy preyed upon by Russia with the help of American leaders.
…children who will never know American pride as natural
and bright as fireflies in a jar.
…peace, respect, compromise, common purpose, hope, American goodness.
who I am and all I’ve known,
engraved experience on a fleshy pallet,
those bylines ᾽round my eyes
Ownership of and living happily with our aging process is existential. Either we have done our character homework over the years or we struggle to find joy and maintain relationships.
I have given this a great deal of thought with the political campaigns. Hillary Clinton was born 10-26-47 and Donald Trump on 6-14-46. They are not going to evolve into anything more than who they are. Character set. Game on. The best they have to offer us are their flamboyant examples of what happens to people who choose certain paths early in life and become exactly what they wanted to be. Goals accomplished. In the petri dish of life, we are viewing specimens who prove how set character is by this age.
I worked for a gerontologist years ago. He said the elderly are extremes—the happiest or saddest, angriest or kindest, most generous or stingiest, most judgmental or forgiving, absolutely honest or dishonest, loudest or softest, etc. When our beauty fades, intellect dulls a little, and the power afforded us by work or community involvement is lessened, all that is left is our personhood—the real us.
I have worried since my 20’s about who I was going to be as a grown-up at age 75 or 80. Some of my work has been successful and some of my character flaws were baked into my DNA. I’ve arrived at this senior status with gray hair and extra pounds—far from the 20-something in a bikini and shag haircut. I like this older me better.
My friends are present with wisdom, creativity and an interest in leaving the best world possible for the next generation. They understand we have two responsibilities: mentoring and expression.
The past cannot be rewritten. The future is short compared to where we were a couple decades ago.
Be joyful. It is good for who you are becoming.
Celebrate freedom of speech,
ideas spewed against the tide.
Frightening, strong, in defense of right,
or hateful and wrong—
schools of thought swimming
toward the light and
‘till persistence creates law.
If we follow a bully pufferfish,
democracy dies on poison spikes.
Feed the blue planet fugu—
love swallowed and hate discarded.