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.
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.
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.
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….