Poem: The Speech


Common ground

must abound

for this country

to unite

and to set

founding notions right

Not you

against me

She vs. he

White is better

than Black

or pretend

global warming

is not a fact

Walls must fall

while we help

all who call

No matter tint

of skin

where preference

is no mortal sin

And believing

means freedom

the wisdom of truth

found in our

words

Not blurred

by hatred or fear

but once again

self-evident

we the people

are equal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Speak


As this Martin Luther King day approaches, I am compelled to contemplate (and write) about racism and bigotry in this country. With a president that feels he has the right to boast his hatred and utter his disregard for equality it is quite evident that some people still carry these sentiments most obviously.

But a book that I recently read: Tears We Cannot Stop, A Sermon to White America, By Michael Eric Dyson, made me look more deeply into the question of implicit racism. By definition found on the computer it means:  implicit racism includes unconscious biases, expectations, or tendencies that exist within an individual, regardless of ill-will or any self-aware prejudices.

He speaks to ‘whiteness’ in general, not in a way that is scolding, but in a way that most definitely made me look at my privileged life in this country as a white person. Of that there is NO doubt.

It is easy to notice things like what the president did and said: that this is racism/bigotry. But there are other signs that are less clear. The lines become blurred when looking at crime and how media portrays who commits them. Who do we feel as white folk are the criminals? Really, answer that question, then check the statistics. Or how do you feel when you walk down a dark street and people of color are near?

There are tests to see if you have implicit bias (or racism). The results may be surprising to you. I was scared when I took one, afraid that I might not be the person I thought I was or wanted to be. The result was fascinating actually. I guess it may depend on life experience and how much you really believe what you read and see on the news.

Dyson challenges white people in order to make this a world as Martin Luther King envisioned (and many others like him), then we must engage those who say racist things when we hear them. Sitting silent is as good as saying it ourselves. Let people know you won’t tolerate this kind of talk. Use it as a teaching moment if you hear folks spouting incorrect information about black people; let them know you know the truth.

This president is trying to worm his way out of the disgusting words he spoke recently and so will others. It is not being tolerated.

So in the words of MLK, speak up!

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

 

What I Did Today


(Note: This is a political post and could be offensive to some readers)

While I have never thought of myself as very political or extremely patriotic, I do vote and care about what happens here in this country. That’s just because I’m a caring human being in general, most the decisions I make in life, big ones anyway that involve ethical decisions, are geared around trying to be kind and trying to think about the ‘bigger picture’ beyond just me.

Because of this I’ve made lifestyle choices that have often made me seem odd or have put me far from mainstream America. This is fine by me. Live and let live, as long as we are all respectful of each other.

Of course you guessed by now that my ‘politics’, if I have to label myself, is liberal. For many years I didn’t claim either party and simply considered myself Independent, but this just seemed, well, simply too non-committal to me. And I knew I would never affiliate with the Republican side, so one day I decided to become a Democrat. No surprise there, right?

I’m not an over the top Democrat though. Like I said: politics isn’t my schtick.  I’ve lived with Republican Presidents, Senators, Congressmen and all the decisions that they make too. I understand that being an American means: you vote and sometimes your ‘side’ doesn’t win. And then you deal as best you can. You continue to be the best person you can regardless.

But this time it’s different. This time the election has left me cold. It isn’t just a Republican that has won, but someone altogether different. Someone who so many of us simply can’t understand how our fellow Americans wanted as our President. It’s simply baffling….and scary.

wpid-20140906_184726.jpg

As reports come out now about his personality (narcissist) and his capabilities (turning democracy into kleptocracy), my years of being a side-line player in our political system is becoming harder to be. I am a pacifist at heart, so plunging into the heart of a heated protest is not my style, but I also am a strong believer in our right to be heard.

Today for the first time in my entire life, I wrote political leaders in my state. My Governor and my two Senators. I’m compelled to do something to bring attention to the freight train barreling toward our democracy. It subtly and over time, can be dismantled without anyone really being aware. Unless we are diligent and proactive. Standing by hoping it will ‘go away’ or just play itself out, is a dangerous thing to hope for against someone who is so full of himself as this president.

I’m sorry if I have offended those of you who support this person. I only ask that you look beyond your personal needs (and I know they are real!) to the man behind the words. Many men just like him spouted big words and went on to do horrible things. It’s about personality here, ethics, greed, morality, neediness, hate and ego to name a few. It’s not about political party. He doesn’t represent a political party, or me, or you. He represents himself, his family and his own desires.

This is a very dangerous thing for the head of any country!

So be aware, be kind to others (even if you don’t agree with them), think beyond yourself, read real news (not on Facebook) and notice what he does and doesn’t do, really listen to his words!

Everything important here is at stake. Truly. For ALL of us.

Walk In Peace


So I was thinking about my post yesterday about the horror of the Boston Marathon and about what I wrote as humans having the natural tendency to gather in groups. That from prehistoric times, this is something we did as hunter-gatherers and this instinct has carried on into modern times. It’s part of what makes us human. This behavior, but also speech and the desire to worship and have religions, are some of the main things that make us different from ‘animals’.

I thought about how our ‘right’ to gather in groups or assemble, is being threatened now by other humans. And how we consider this a ‘right’ because it’s actually in our U.S. Constitution as a first amendment right.  The right to assemble, just like freedom of speech and religion. 

And I thought: isn’t that interesting? That our forefathers took the pieces that make us human and created laws to protect those parts! Because speech and religion is specific to us (or at least in the sense that we think of it). Even the right to bear arms! Only we have weapons! Animals may have crude tools, but not weapons. And we must have a special law to protect this ‘right’ also. Now look how having these weapons are coming around full cycle. They protect and harm at the same time. 

Sure there are many, many laws. And some maybe would intersect with the animal kingdom I suppose. (Like animals have territory). But it seems that the most important ones that we put on the top of the list are specific to us. The ones we hold most dear and fight for most passionately! I am human: let me speak, let me assemble, let me pray!  These are my rights. This makes me who I am and it is the law. 

As these things are now being taken by terrorists–every time a bomb goes off during a speech, or in a church, or a marathon, we lose a bit of our humanness. And each time that collective connection that binds us together seems to become more fragile.

Hope is another thing that makes us human. We cling to it desperately. Amidst the tears, the smoke and blood we can continue to hope for a better world. A world where what our forefathers created for us in our U.S. Constitution can be embraced by every citizen without fear. And that a new day will come where we all walk in peace.