Poem: Burden


I do

bear the burden

of sin

When you

enslaved

destroyed

and

displaced

impoverished

and

murdered

robbed

and

lied

cheated

It is the

shame

of my skin

and

duty

of my soul

to

rectify

 

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A Thanksgiving Perspective


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As we near Thanksgiving I was ruminating on the President’s speech on immigration last night. I don’t like to get too political here on my blog, but I feel compelled to share a few thoughts.

First, I have to say (and which will possibly surprise or annoy some), Thanksgiving is my least favorite holiday. My feelings are based on a few reasons: it bothers me that we pick a ‘day’ to be thankful when it feels to me that so many of us don’t feel thankful much of the time (just listen to people around you); people overeat and stuff themselves on this day when so many in this country and others are starving and we continue to be so wasteful with food in this country–not to mention how unhealthy we are around food in this country; and finally the origins of this holiday seem profoundly hypocritical to me given the suffering of the Native Americans in this country today. These are my feelings, so I often spend it working, alone and/or fasting. Plus as one maitre de at a restaurant once said: Thanksgiving is a rather tragic holiday for a vegetarian. (Now I’m a vegan and gluten-free!! )

So here we are in 2014 with an immigration war raging again. It’s not the first time the politicians have fought this battle, and it’s far from over. But I thought about this war, and I thought about Thanksgiving. And I thought about those Pilgrims and the first steps they took on this land when they emigrated here. How they had hopes and dreams for a better life. How they had suffered dreadful seas and weather and lost friends,  family and left the homes they knew. They did it because they had a glimmer that maybe they could have something new, forge new fields and build a new, freer government.

They were met by strangers when they set down. Those immigrants who put their feet on this land, not their land, but the land of other caretakers who had lived here for centuries and followed the way of earth. They came in droves after and pushed the natives back. Killed the animals and brought theirs. Cut down the trees and planted their crops. Brought disease and alcohol. More immigrants came from other lands and this nation of ours grew and grew. Cities flew up. Pollution filled the skies. Cars filled the streets. The natives were placed on small tracks of lands and were told this was all they had now.

And now generations of those immigrants call themselves Americans. We, the descendants of those immigrants, call this country great. New immigrants want to come because it is a great nation with opportunity, money, jobs, education. Other immigrants, just like those first ones want to come here because they have the same hopes and dreams to make a better life for themselves and their children.  They climb fences, swim rivers, deal with police, get shot…anything to come to our wonderful country and to get away from terrorism, drug dealers, and murderers.

So on Thanksgiving, when people sit around their tables to give thanks–remember your ancestors. Remember where we all came from and why we are here and free. Think about why others might want to be also. Remember we’re not perfect either. We took when we came. Maybe we need to pay it forward now by doing right to some new immigrants because it may certainly be too late to make up for what we’ve done to the Native people who were already here.

How Do We Deal?


With the latest shooting, I don’t know where to begin to deal with my emotions. I was at work sitting at my computer where I usually am when I’m not on the ambulance or working around the station when I saw the news. Like everyone, I was horrified, hit by depths of sadness and overwhelmed by a sense of disbelief. Why? That is what we are all asking–on a seemingly daily basis. Why, does this keep happening?

And people of my generation keep saying and feeling that it didn’t seem to happen as much when I was younger. But I’m not here to talk about the why’s. We could argue that until we are blue in the face: too many guns, not enough gun control, too much internet or lack of control on the internet, poor health care system for mentally ill people. Whatever it may be, all I know is that it is happening and innocents are being slaughtered at an alarming rate.

I looked at the photos that were shot on the scene. And just like when I heard the news all I could do was cry. The faces of the people show the pain and senselessness of it all. Then I think five seconds beyond the initial horror to the job I would have to do if I was responding to that scene and I just am not sure I want to be part of the human race any longer. I see that, too, in the faces of the fire fighters and EMT’s/paramedics and police. My fear are the pictures that are conjured in the minds of the family members, the co-workers, the play-mates, the community members and anyone involved. Sadly these images will last a life time. And the holidays forever a reminder.

Do these shooters have any clue when they do these things and the long-range reverberations that are caused?  They are so often killed themselves in the event, so we can’t get in their minds. Do they only think in the moment that they act? Our questions will echo in our heads and hearts just like the bullets that sounded in that school today. But unlike the bullets which only cause death and endings, questions help us to heal and create changes.

So how do we deal? How do we find solace in something so inexplicable? How do we go on and find joy when others suffer so greatly? Some have their religion. Some their families. Some never do. Yet some take a monstrous event like this and create a way to help others out of it. I can only hope these families find some way to find their joy and peace again someday. And that maybe somehow we come to learn the ‘whys’ of these events so we can eliminate them. Until then, I try desperately to hold on to that strand of hope I have in humankind–that somewhere in us kindness remains. Please let me be right!