Humor, Politics

The Accident

My late husband and I built a house in the N. Georgia Mountains.  We would soon learn red-neck law.  Rumors were that the sheriff was paid off by the drug dealers who dropped canisters of drugs from planes in fields, and if a canister broke open and a few cows died…..oh, well…..  The local restaurant menu offered local statistics including the fact that there were no blacks in the county.

            Another sub-group the red-necks discriminated against were the Atlanta folk migrating to the county for fresh air, the scenery and less crowding.  Just as some Texans hate the blasted thinking, weird Austin-ites, people in this Georgia county hated everything about people from Atlanta.  Local thieves broke into Atlanta migrant homes on a regular basis.  Although law enforcement knew who the thieves were, they chose to ignore the thefts.  Atlanta folk were fair game.  The thieves eventually made the mistake of breaking into the home of local, retired teachers and were arrested immediately.

            I decided to stay alone in the mountain home during the week with my German shepherd and rifle to save our home from damage or theft.   We continued to work on the finishing details of our home on weekends.

            With a shopping list for lumber, nails and other building items, one Monday morning I left home in my pick-up truck, the dog riding shotgun beside me.  We had worked hard all weekend and I was exhausted.  Apparently, I fell asleep.  All of a sudden I felt a steep decline into a deep ditch on the left side of the road.  Weeds whizzed by my window.

            Brakes applied.  A sudden stop.  The dog who had been thrown against the dash was peeved.  I tried my door and it opened enough that I could squeeze through.  The dog refused to exit with the woman who was responsible for his discomfort.  I feared copperheads and had not worn boots.  I climbed the steep embankment and would realize later that my concern should have been for all the chigger bites.

            While building our home we had used some day labor from the minimum security prison.  In the approaching truck on the lonely country road were one of the prisoners we had hired, a second prisoner and a pig in the truck bed that was going to the processing plant run by a local Baptist minister.  I climbed into that truck with two prisoners and a pig. 

            The self-proclaimed Baptist minister, as found in little Baptist Churches on every corner in Georgia, was kind.  I called my husband and a tow truck to pull me out of the ditch.

            The tow truck broke two chains trying to pull my truck out of the ditch.  The top of the truck was even with the road surface and wedged into the red clay.  At last the truck was free, but a tire was flat.

            Then a Barney Fife character arrived.  He flashed the lights on his patrol car and strutted towards me, an Atlanta woman despised by all good red-necks.  The prisoners and Baptist minister left me alone with the deputy.  After getting my ID and my story of the accident, he told me I had broken the law by moving the vehicle.  I could be put in jail and furthermore would not be able to collect insurance on the accident.  He spent a great deal of time berating me for my failures. 

            After he left, I sat on my tailgate and had a good cry.  I had escaped death in the accident, ridden with prisoners and a pig and was going to jail.  The total lack of empathy for me, my health and my helplessness in that moment was lost on the deputy who had all the power.

            I did not go to jail.  I did collect my insurance for the accident. 

            I have thought about my helplessness after my accident as I witnessed abuse by the police against our black citizens, a 75-year old man pushed to the ground and left bleeding, and media deliberately pelted by rubber bullets and tear gassed. 

My story does not compare to that of systemic racism and death by bad policemen.  At the same time, I have seen firsthand what is happening in our court systems today and the arrogance of policing. 

I hope we will not do away with good public servants who police our streets, but will reduce their numbers in favor of more community advocates working with people in trouble.  Laws probably need updating.  More importantly hearts and heads need changing.

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Church, Personal Growth, Politics, Uncategorized

CHURCH SYSTEMIC RACISM

I am a liberal, old, white woman who has supported equal rights for women and people of color over the decades.  I would NEVER vote for a white supremacist like Trump.

I do not know the black experience because I was born into white privilege.  This is not to say I did not experience poverty as a child or did not work hard over the years.  And I might add, I have had to deal with over-zealous police who scared the bejesus out of me, but my outcome was better than that of a person of color.

Why is the church, MY CHURCH, not doing a better job defending the rights of black people?  We must acknowledge there are a number of bigots in our congregation who would claim they are not.  The white, thinking church congregants want to be too polite.  Don’t rock that boat!  We protect the feelings of people who hate because they are volatile, loud and will throw scriptures around like bread crumbs to ducks on a pond.  Enough!

I am scratching my head over the hypocrisy of this position considering Biblical teachings.

Over the past few years, I personally have had the following experiences with other women, just to name a few:

  1.  I did not feel a team calling itself the Rebels and carrying a Confederate flag (the flag tradition ended, I believe) should be allowed in the public school setting.  I was told by clergy that as a native Texan, she could accept this tradition.  Apparently, Texas tradition trumps (pun intended) all things holy.  As a congregant, this conversation diminished my respect for the practicing theology of my church.  Needless to say, I left this church.
  2. I am a Methodist and have been very enthusiastic about educating girls in foreign countries, as well as in the U.S.  This was the original passion that drove the creation of United Methodist Women – the right for every girl to receive an education, especially in countries where girls were seen as “lesser than” the boys.  When I asked why the mission of UMW was not being shared with the women in my church, I was told it was too political.  I had never heard that mission was political in my previous churches.  As a congregant, I felt I was being told to be silent, join a Bible study and allow ignorance to flourish in my congregation.  Silence was polite and easy.  Talking about the needs of brown children was too controversial.  After all, we were allowing Hispanic children to be caged at the border in Texas and were remaining silent as a church. 
  3. A church woman called me.  In the course of our conversation she told me, “The Bible says you should respect Trump.”  I need not expound on this church experience.  Not pretty.

For women, like me, who were brought up to be polite and not create a scene, it requires some tenacity to speak up. 

Our silence gives permission to evil intent in all its forms.  I recognize at this point in history, I need to be vocal. 

I am proud of our protesters.  They are not only making demands for their own rights, but are most likely going to save our democracy.

Those of us with heart and intellect must be less polite and more engaged.  We owe that to our black neighbors and to our country.  The peril is great.

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Poetry, Politics

SILENCE

There is a ringing in my ears, the steady hum of distant voices

singing with enthusiasm in churches long ago,

four part harmony proclaiming love while people of color

watched white folk sit at the lunch counters.

There is a ringing in my ears, the steady hum of distant voices

giddy because frocks, shoes and jewelry were purchased

and the people of color sat at the back of the bus

after pressing white girls’ dresses.

There is a ringing in my ears, the steady hum of today’s voices

  in posts, tweets and TV interviews searching for peace and justice;

and the President mocks people of faith with a photo-op Bible

as George Floyd’s spirit moves a nation.

There is a ringing in my ears, the steady hum of today’s voices

on streets across this nation, “I can’t breathe!”

The police shoot rubber bullets.  “I can’t breathe!”

Seats of power threaten to silence Americans.  “I can’t breathe!”

There is a ringing in my ears, the steady hum of breathing –

in and out as my rib cage moves, the cadence of life.

George Floyd is still.  History repeated. 

Freedom more rhetoric than practice.

There is a ringing in my ears, the steady hum of silence

by the privileged who know the price paid for their wealth.

There is a ringing in my ears, the steady hum of silence

by churches never confronting bigots in their midst.

There is a ringing in my ears.  I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.  I can’t breathe.  I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.  I can’t breathe.  I CAN’T BREATHE. 

Silence.

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Aging, Art, Country, Memoir, Peace, Politics, Uncategorized

Political Winds

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!

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Baby Boomer, Politics, Uncategorized

Fragile Democracy

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.

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Art, Country, Personal Growth, Poetry, Politics, Uncategorized

Angst

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.

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Abuse, Country, Grief, Politics, Uncategorized, Women

I Weep by Ann Hendrix

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.

I weep…

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Country, Peace, Poetry, Politics, Uncategorized

FUGU

                    FUGU

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

prejudices bottom-feeding

‘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.

                  

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Politics

Jack-In-The-Box Logic

Over sixty years ago on my sixth birthday, I had a private room in a small, Kansas hospital.  Ladies in crisp uniforms and nursing caps served ice cream to soothe my sore, tonsillectomy throat.

I received one new toy for my special day—a Jack-In-The-Box!  I turned the handle on the metal, brightly painted box repeatedly, hour after hour after hour.  Although my throat was too sore to warble with the plunking melody, I joyously sang along in my head…All Around The Mulberry Bush… 

I was impatient as I waited for the pop of the lid.  At last, the final phrase began to play, Pop Goes The Weasel.  I caught my breath every single time.  Magic!  The clown was released by the latch and bounced on its spring to my delight.

This political season has reminded me of my brief hospital stay—the time before I looked beyond the repetition of familiar patterns, before I knew to live fuller than what could be programmed into music boxes and clowns, before I learned the demands of the heart trump the expectations of others, before I recognized the world did not revolve around selfish, immature me.

Should We Be Six Forever?

Some of my fellow citizens employ reality TV show mentality.  Bullying, boorish behavior, extreme views, and selfish outcomes create drama in the political arena.  Citizenry who engage only with politicians who repeatedly bounce like clowns on springs shouting hate and bigotry are denying themselves and democracy the opportunity to mature.

Compromise, compassion, equality, educational opportunities, laws to protect innocent children in schools, environmental threats, and justice are ideas swelling from humanity.  These values are not “cranked out” of a political box.  Inclusion and positive reforms reflect character and intellect.  No one person or party can achieve this greatness for our world, our country, alone.

Because there were people in the hospital who were actually ill, a nurse took my Jack-In-The-Box to the nurse’s station for a couple hours so other patients could rest.  A six-year-old could not dictate the common sense health requirements of others.  A grown-up found compromise and negotiated what was best for everyone, even for obsessive, little me who needed a nap.

I wish I could be the nurse in a sick field of candidates.  I want to take the repeated messages playing in their heads, the messages poisoning our environment, and still the day.  Now is the time for grown-ups to deliberate and heal a nation.

All Around the Mulberry Bush….

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