Meaning


It has been a week of contemplation and ultimately deciding to let go–surrender.

For months now I’ve been preparing (with the online course) and then trying to get a job here. For any of you out there  who have tried in recent years, you may know it’s no fun task. Online job searching and applying has become, it seems, like all our communication now: a distant and computerized grind. It takes anything remotely human out of the chore. There is no more going into a place (like a store for instance) and asking for an application, where maybe you might have a real person see you. Everything is handled by some invisible robot now.

So I have been reduced to my statistics, and sadly they aren’t good. And don’t believe the lies they tell you. This America we live in now (or maybe even before), isn’t the equitable place everyone may believe. No, it’s really about the bottom line. It’s not about knowledge or experience: age does not bring wisdom folks, it brings the fact that you may just cost too darn much. Or in their minds you might anyway.

It doesn’t seem to matter that younger folks may not have the savvy for a particular job, or the personal presence shall we say (at least in some instances). I’ve noticed that many of the ‘kids’ seem too busy checking their phones to really know how to talk to a real person. But bosses and companies don’t seem to mind this flaw as long as they can keep hiring these kids cheaply.

And I’m not even asking for a lot of money! I just wanted a job. So does my neighbor. But try as we might, we just keep getting rejections, no matter how stellar our resumes may look. So it was time for me to just take a breath, because honestly, my breathing was getting too rapid about the whole situation. I was getting Indeed.com anxiety. It was nuts!

Enough already.

During a meditation it came to me that it was time to give in. My arms were heavy from swimming against this current. Fair enough. So time to take another tactic.

I applied to volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Within 10 minutes they called me. I start tomorrow at 7 am. No, I’m not a good person. This totally isn’t about being generous. It’s about me. I won’t lie: this is doing something for me. I need to feel like I have meaning.

And it didn’t hurt to apply somewhere and have someone say yes.

Good Americans


I had a discussion at work today with someone about what makes a good American. Well actually, I’m not so sure it was a ‘discussion’, but rather me defending the fact that I was a good American in a different way than this person.

This ‘talk’ started around the lowering of the flag for Mandela which this person didn’t believe we should do because he wasn’t from this country. He feels that only dignitaries and important people from America should be honored by such a gesture. He was a marine and feels the flag has special meaning, but implied had particular meaning especially to him.

I took offense to this honestly. And it raised questions in my mind, just what does make a good American? While I certainly understand why he feels such pride having served our country, and I would by no means diminish that–I feel there are other ways in which people do honor to this country.

He made the point, and strongly, that many men and women die for our country overseas, and the flag doesn’t go up and down for them. Yes, I do understand that for sure. But they are honored with flags of their own and in other ways. I tried to explain to him how Mandela stood out as a human being and how he saved a whole country from war. I am not saying an individual life isn’t any less important, but when one person particularly shines, then an allied country can pay tribute.

Maybe I did not enlist in the service, but I do service every day.  I have been a vegetarian for 37 years and therefore cut my carbon footprint considerably. That means I don’t tax the resources as much in this country. I’ve also been an athlete so I stay healthy and thereby don’t put a burden on the healthcare system like most Americans. I recycle and have way before it was fashionable and compost too.

More importantly I try to be kind to my fellow human, no matter what race, socio-economic background or religion. Would I die for my country and freedom? If push came to shove, I would.  I personally believe in trying to work things out peacefully, but I don’t think that makes me less of an American.

Some people choose to be soldiers that carry guns. Others of us are soldiers that use words to change things one person at a time. Our way is much less noticeable at times, can be frustrating and certainly isn’t always as immediately as convincing as pointing a gun at someone. But people do die for their words or go to jail for many, many years. And for their beliefs.

So no, I don’t carry a gun and I didn’t enlist to fight for my country, but I do always fight for what’s right! Equality, peace, justice, freedom for everyone, ending hunger and poverty, and spreading love. Sometimes the people with the biggest guns don’t even remember why they were carrying them.

Having A Dream


martin-luther-king-jr

 

Today marked a very important anniversary for me and for many other Americans I’m sure. Today was the 50th Anniversary of the march on Washington and of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. While I was only a child then, and not there, his words and the message of that day still resound a strong beat that thump in my heart to this day.

Every time I watch the speech (which I make a point to do when the anniversary comes up) it always brings up and overwhelming feelings of hope. And that justice can prevail if enough people want it. His words and mesmerizing voice, and the camera panning out in the crowd of people of black and white people all standing side by side, knowing they all believed in the same thing, brings me comfort that the seeds of change can grow tall.

We all know that many went a long way to get there, and many had suffered hardships, but many kept the belief that they could, as a peaceful and powerful group, start wheels in motion for the rights that should have already been everyone’s.

Those wheels have been moving for 50 years now and we all have seen many changes. As President Obama said today, to diminish those changes would be a discredit to those who marched then. Of course there are changes! A black president made the speech today! That never would have been remotely possible 50 years ago.

But now equity must be possible for everyone, not just blacks. As the President said today, we fight a hard battle. Poverty keeps many segregated. The economy is an enemy now. Everyone is entitled to work and a proper education. Black, whites, Latinos, Asian and all that come to this Nation to make a better life.

All that feel pangs of prejudice and are discriminated against now deserve better. The handicapped, the gay community and any group that lies on the outside of mainstream America. We all are entitled to the same things. We deserve joy, enough to eat, clothing, shelter, medical care, a future. And we need to find it peacefully, not with violence.

So I look back with tears of gratitude and solidarity and look forward knowing in my heart that dreams can become reality. This is the legacy that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all that marched 50 years ago gave to me.