Georgia, Memoir, Politics, Uncategorized

Remembering Georgia

I was married for thirty years to George Fowler, twenty-five years old when I married him and age fifty-five when he died.  Who I became as a mature, thinking woman was done with him.

            George’s history and his family history going back to the Civil War was in Georgia.  As a child, he played with confederate money in his grandfather’s barn.

            His great-grandfather was a store keeper, not slave owner, in rural Georgia when the Civil War began.  The confederates forced his grandfather to surrender his money/gold and was given worthless confederate money in exchange.  When the confederates lost the war, he lost everything due to the theft.

            We move forward in time to George’s father, Oscar, who was a tenant farmer.  He farmed next door to a black tenant farmer who had the misfortune of having daughters.  Oscar and the neighbor exchanged work, Oscar’s boys working the neighbor’s field and the neighbor’s girls working Oscar’s garden.

            A very young George was working in the neighbor’s field one day when a white brute crossed the furrows with a 2-by-4 board.  He raised the board and for no reason except hate he struck the black man working his field.  The white man turned and left as quickly as he arrived.  George never forgot his friend’s assault and the lack of justice to follow.

            After George at age 17 followed Patton across Europe, he returned to Georgia.  He was a mail carrier, postal clerk, assistant Post Master and finally the Post Master in Decatur, Georgia.  Along the way, George played golf with men of all races before integration.  His friendships were always based on shared values, not race or ethnic origin.  He was considered a fair manager – tough, but just. 

            I not only was inspired by George’s racial fairness, but he was feminist before I was.  He always insisted I be more than I imagined.

            George was the most intelligent person I have ever known.  He read continually.  Brilliant mind.  Great humor.  Kind.

            I believe George is looking down and screaming, “Black lives matter!”  As a man who supported women, he would be proud of Representative Park Cannon.

            I lived in Savannah, Athens, Decatur and Ellijay in the North Georgia Mountains.  As an observer from afar, I know the people who foolishly elected Marjorie Taylor Greene.  I have been amazed at the democratic votes coming from Savannah, an obviously different place from what I knew in 1969. 

            George loved Georgia.  It was home – complex, beautifully landscaped, and still living the pain of the Civil War.

            As I have watched what is happening in Georgia, I remember my George, his grandsons in Georgia and his granddaughters beyond Georgia borders.  I know they remember their grandfather with great love.  George is looking down and expecting them to honor their family legacy, to be strong, fair and kind.  

Standard
Abuse, Children, Country, Me Too, Politics, Women

Empathy

EMPATHY

Imagine standing by a cherished child,

a child threatened by strong winds and unsure footing

while standing toes on the edge of a rocky cliff.

Her pain your anguish.  Her fear your terror.

Empathy.

Imagine hearing your child speak of abuse,

a bully on the street or degradation in the workplace.

His defense would be your priority.

His pain your anguish.  His fear your terror.

Empathy.

Women found the courage to confront Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh,

Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and more.  The sexually traumatized,

belittled and ridiculed by Congress, suffered in the public square.

Women’s pain and fear not felt.

People of color have taught their children how to conform,

be subservient to the power of law enforcement

because their lives depend on compromised, personal worth.

Black lives not heard and pain not felt.

Muslims, Jews and refugees victimized by hate crimes seek peace.

Children snatched from parents’ arms are thrown into cages.

Too many Congressmen walked in lockstep with a want-a-be dictator.

The cries not heard and the pain not felt.

January 6, 2021 a mob of traitors infiltrated

the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol.

Outraged, Congress demanded justice.

Congress knew fear and pain.

Now we see the priorities – the safety of Congressional bodies.

Where was empathy for the women?  Who in Congress cried for the children?

Who in Congress believes that Black Lives matter?  Who sees the plight of the poor?

The breach of the Capitol, democratic values, happened long before January 6, 2021.

Empathy.  

Standard
Art, growth, Peace, Personal Growth, Personhood, Poetry

LINES

2020 was a strange year, twelve months of lines drawn

to shut friends out, to invite new friends in or to isolate inside a cubicle.

We have been exhausted by a pandemic and politics.

In the now, we seek a greater meaning as we view the abstract

created to limit our movement, a rethinking of our place in the larger picture.

Give each person a T-square (reason) and color (attitude).

Some rage at the T-square, throw it through glass, shatter the possibilities;

others will put the T-square in a dark closet so the tool is not a reminder;

the wise study the T-square and draw hope, virtue and the future.

Just a T-square.  Just reason.  What is just in this season?

Some pick up their pallet of colors and choose to paint the room black,

throw black against the canvases other carry, destroying the beauty;

others lock doors and minds, paint beautiful pictures while Rome burns;

the wise examine the landscape, find perspective, balance light and dark.

Just color.  Just attitude.  What is just in this season?

Strange Christmas poem – T-squares and color –

if our T-squares become swords, people die;

if our T-squares build bridges, we live; and

if we open our hearts to our own brightly colored gifts

and to the gifts of others, we not only live, we thrive!

Standard
Art, Dogs

Honey

Honey, here.  I am a nine-year-old Rat Terrier mix. 

I found myself in a precarious situation and was rescued.  My foster mom, Terri, spoiled me.  She thought I was special just because I was me.  She seemed to know I just wanted to feel safe and spoiled a little.  She saw my loving heart.  I planned to stay with her always, but her job was to find me a new, forever home. 

Along came Ken and Ann, my adoptive parents.  We had an introductory meeting which went well.  The next day, after a microchip implant, I was put in their backseat. 

I learned a lot about them on the way home, my new dad tells mom how to drive.  I knew then that she needed me to give her moral support.  They talked to me all the way home.  Home.  That strange place with new smells, rooms, food bowls and my new peeps.

My foster mom told my mom to give me some chicken fingers each meal with my dry food.  I barked at her when I saw her getting the chicken bag out of the freezer.  She thought I was a little bossy, but I was just being grateful as I rushed her along.

I try to bark for a treat each time I come in from outside.  That does not work.  Can’t blame a girl from trying!

My first morning, dad forgot to take off the alarm and it was loud.  Guess he is not used to a trip out before coffee.

Training my new peeps is a big job.  They are probably worth it because they loved me from the start.  I see a new routine of Wheel of Fortune, walks to the mailbox and visits to the park. 

That is all I have for now.  I will update you again when I teach them not to expect me to chase a ball.  If they throw it, they can go fetch it.  People!!!

Standard
Art, Country, Personhood, Politics

Words Matter

For a time I was the coordinator of the Kansas Authors Club Writers in the Schools program, a State Board of Education pilot project.

One of my presentations to students was on the power of words.  I told them words were magic because I had the power to put pictures in their heads.  If I said “cardinal,” a red bird popped into their heads.  If I said “rattlesnake,” not only did I put a picture in their head but also some fear or anxiety.

I have thought about the power of words a great deal over the past five years.  Words are being used to manipulate people in unhealthy ways. 

To create an us-vs-them world, we call protesters “a mob” to reframe an event.  With one word we both defame people with a constitutional right to protest and deter people away from the injustice under protest.

Ethnocentrism (inherent superiority) is alive and well as code words are used to separate people in this nation.  For instance, “the suburbs” is code for white.  “Invasion” is used to refer to immigrants or people of color moving into the United States or into “the suburbs.”

I have grave concerns about who we are as discerning individuals.  Why choose to believe a lie rather than the truth?  I suppose winning could be more important than truth to many.  For those of faith, I find it interesting that “the truth and the way” is negated to allow prejudicial behaviors and language.

Why do we perpetuate untruth with our posts?  Personally, I think some have come to believe that we live in a reality TV world, that winning is everything and truth is inconvenient.

We all have opinions about everything from constitutional government to abortion rights to civil rights, but opinions are questions of our world view and less about absolutes.  Opinions come from faith, cultural preferences and as a reaction to fear. 

Truth is many things – science, factual evidence, what I see and hear myself.  Do we try to reinvent truth to justify our fears?  Fear of change?  Fear of other?  Fear of lost control?  Fear of shared power?

We are back to choice.  I choose to speak truth.  I do not try to manipulate and I will not be manipulated.

How I value others in my life depends largely on their value of truth.  The truth is we are all Americans.  The opinions of Democrats or Republicans is of less value than the overwhelming truth that we are all members of families, this country and of the world community.  The truth is that some people try to divide us along party lines, racial lines and religious lines. 

Words matter.  Truth matters.  Choose wisely!

Standard
Uncategorized

WE ARE CALLED TO SPEAK

            Even old, white women like me are called to speak about injustice.  Silence is giving permission to seventeen-year-olds with guns to kill, rogue policemen to shoot first, Christians to hate rather than love, and the weak to follow rather than find their inner conscience.

            Two unconnected stories have come to mind during the past couple days.  The first is about nine-year-old granddaughter, Tiffany, and the second is about my father.

STORY ONE

            Tiffany and her brother were visiting us for a couple weeks.  Tiffany was happily twirling in my dining room.  Then it happened, an antique goblet fell to the floor and shattered.  Tiffany looked at me with fear and sadness in her eyes rather than with that magical sparkle of joy from a few moments earlier.

            I told Tiffany that people were more important than things.  A hug and a little cleanup erased the pain of the moment. 

            Although this part of the story as little to do with my point of my story, I have to share.  A couple hours later we were sitting at the dining table and Tiffany kept rocking her chair up on two legs and bouncing it against the china cabinet.  When I told her to stop because she might break something, she said, “Grandma, you said people are more important than things!”  A wholly different conversation followed.  Even today, she has strong opinions, a hearty spirit and much love to give.  Great adult and parent.

STORY TWO

            A former minister’s daughter was raped and murdered after going to a bar with friends.  So brutal.

            While visiting my parents later in the week, my pious, judgmental father said, “Well, it wouldn’t have happened if SHE had not been where SHE was not supposed to be.”

            If you know me, you can imagine where our conversation went as I expounded on victim blaming.

CONNECTING THE DOTS

            I have listened to speakers say (paraphrasing), “If they wouldn’t have been out after curfew, it wouldn’t have happened.”  “If they wouldn’t protest, the looters wouldn’t steal and start fires.”  Then there is Trump who says Biden will bring death and destruction, as if 180,000 unnecessary deaths and the greater racial strife he has incited is not enough hell on earth for one man to create as President.

            Protesters are not looters.  Stop confusing two separate groups of people.  Free speech is an American right.  Arrest the looters and leave protesters alone.  As far as I am concerned, people who refuse to separate the two groups are doing so deliberately because they believe things (buildings) are more important than people, specifically black people.

            Anyone who believes that a wall is more valuable than the lives of children locked in cages at our border has zero respect from me.  Such cruelty!

            Victim blaming is demoralizing our country.  A person is not guilty of a crime because they are black rather than white – not on the streets, not in their opinions, not in any just society.  Victim blaming because someone was in a conversation with the police or on the streets protesting is not acceptable.  Know the circumstances.  Certainly, whether before or after curfew, a seventeen-year-old hater does not have the right to kill other citizens.

            I know this will not convince one hater to love or one Christian to speak the language of brotherhood.  I simply had to say these truths because sharing creates positive bonds of strength in the thinking, loving community.

            I am going to continue to love and to speak, because our silence gives the Trumpers their greatest victory. 

Standard
Abuse, Politics

Who Says Those Things

I grew up in a very conservative home.  My father served up linear, single-minded thinking in an inside-out world.  Hate was called love, suffering was called deserved punishment, and everyone not in the family was “other.”  Judgment was the language.  So, I recognize the psychology of control, fear and abuse.  What a painful place to live.

When I see FaceBook posts in support of hate, I cringe.  I want to believe my friends grew more kind and thoughtful over the years.  I want to believe they are not second or third generation abusers, actively trying to control the convictions, voting rights, and freedoms of other Americans based on religion or race.

I do not weaponized my religious beliefs to judge others.  I celebrate all good people.  Some are Christian, others Muslim or Jewish, and, yes, some are atheist.  My God (kindness) works for good through the eyes of people of all faiths, colors and creeds.  In unity, the empowerment of good flourishes.  In division, we all suffer.

I do not limit truth-telling.  Reinventing a version of the truth is not truth, but rather a lie.  I believe when we support people who are not honest, we have an obligation to look at our own motives.  What do we have to gain from a manipulator’s agenda?  From my perspective, screaming an opinion is how an abuser communicates, not the way a loving, logical and healthy person shares an idea.

I do not choose fear.  I love change because we cannot grow without movement away from what is comfortable.  If segregation is comfortable, then get to know someone new and challenge your own growth.  If your healthcare comforts you and your neighbor’s lack of coverage does not bother you, ask yourself why you are fearful to see others have the security you enjoy.  If walls make you feel safer, ask yourself if children caged away from their parents behind walls are a real threat to you.  Fear is a choice.  Fear is judgment.  Fear is not democratic.

At the end of the day, I see as abusers those claiming to save our democracy from science, people of color, a misguided view of the godless and Democrats.  In my country we celebrate differences.  In my country we embrace our neighbors.  In my country we love rather than hate.  In my country we are always moving toward a more perfect union, not living in the past.  

Standard
Peace, Poetry

Peace is…

Patrick Williams’ jazz draws me into a hypnotic spell.

I melt into my chair and hear my mother from beyond, “Don’t slouch!”

The saxophone massages tensions from my neck, my head buoyant.

Syncopation strokes the shoulders.  Melodies dangle me like a puppet.

A brown bird sits on my windowsill for the longest time.

She seems to know I need a friend.  I am still so she will not leave.

Brown bird preening her feathery cloak occasionally looks at me.

How amazing to have the choice of staying or flight.

Prolific crepe myrtles boast bold colors to proclaim landscape dominance.

Each bloom winks at passersby, not a shy nod to a neighbor’s presence.

Crepe myrtle enters like a woman with flaming, red lipstick

and a dress that dares you to look twice.  Crepe myrtle holds court.

Each night Ken says, “Dear wife, it is time for bed.”  I smile at “dear wife.”

Ken is like music playing familiar notes, the pattern ever-changing.

He is the brown bird that will never leave a garden of crepe myrtle.

Peace is being surrounded by the things I love.

Standard
Aging

Life in Isolation

Isolation is a challenge for seniors.  My personal experiences include:

  • I bought eight swim dress cover-ups as my uniform.  They feel like nighties, but I can go outside to pick up packages left at my door without revealing too much skin.
  • Ken and I stood in the kitchen Wednesday trying to figure out what day it was.  We missed Tuesday and I am not sure what happened between Monday (trash day) and Wednesday.  More of the same ol’, same ol’ happening.  The upside is that winter will go much faster if all our weeks are only six days.  Let us do away with all Tuesdays!
  • I never wanted to ZOOM, but now it is a must.  I had a tech in to put ZOOM on my phone, computer and laptop.  I was unsuccessful at setting up a meeting with Sarah this morning, but she managed to invite me into her home.  I am a work in progress.
  • I have learned to cut Ken’s hair GI style. 
  • Shipt delivers our groceries.  I struggle with product sizes.  Either we seem to have enough spaghetti sauce for 100 or only enough juice for one serving.  I am literate.  Within the next year, I will master ordering.
  • I am playing Words With Friends on three different sites.  Sometimes I am holding my phone and looking at my computer as I play several games at once.
  • Perhaps my best lessons in this “hell” is that 1) I can live with myself; 2) I can live with Ken; 3) I can let go of the rage and move toward more productive thought patterns; 4) I am certain my convictions regarding justice, hope and change are well-founded; 5) I am grateful for my sense of humor, friends and family; 6) I can do this another year.
Standard
Peace, Personal Growth, Personhood, Politics

POLITICS 2020

I have given a great deal of thought to linear thinking lately.  Vile posts and conversations have invaded my space.  I listened to the rant of an unfeeling Sons of the Confederacy member who believes the virus is a hoax.  I have seen posts by well-educated people who are unwilling to recognize history as a fluid experience with learning opportunities rather than as a place we inhabit mentally in perpetuity.

Both parties have people who, although not at the fringes, are incapable of expanding their world view.  Single-mindedness or linear thinking is another way of renaming lack of empathy and bigotry.  I do not believe many of these people behaving in bigoted ways are aware of their harm to others.  I also believe most would claim to be without prejudice.  Linear thinking is not given to self-examination, but is generous with the judgment of others.

I believe there is room for compromise for the sake of peace and, most importantly, for the sake of justice. 

Compromise 1:  Wear masks.  The people who want to open everything up get their way.  Those of us who want to be protected from the virus get our way.  Win.  Win. 

Compromise 2:  Relocate the monuments.  Living in Texas magnifies all symbols of personal independence.  The questions are: When the symbols of independence and freedom were erected, were they meant to only allow freedom to whites?  Were they meant to intimidate people of color?  Are these symbols of oppression more important than the living people whose souls shrink in their shadows?  Are the monuments representative of who we are today?  Do the monuments keep us stuck in the painful past?  My compromise:  Put the monuments in Confederate cemeteries or in museums.  Raise a statue of a man reading to his child in front of the local library.  Put a quote in front of the courthouse, “Justice cannot be for one side alone, but for both.  Eleanor Roosevelt.”  In front of the schools erect monuments that inspire achievement – scientists, artists, John McCain (one of my more recent political heroes).  

If we do not learn to compromise, we will lose our country.  The question for us all is whether being right is worth sacrificing our democracy.  Let’s get real and do the hard work of learning to get along.  Regardless how we may want to win all the marbles, our children may lose everything if we plant our feet in the past and refuse to move forward.

Stating the obvious: the past is behind us and the future is our gift to the next generation.  What are we creating in the now?

Standard