Friday, November 25, 2016

Our Story As We Write It

Our Story As We Write It
            I like to believe we are writing our story, a few words each day. I like to believe it is our love story.

            I like to believe we don’t have to choose sides, that there are no sides. No right. No wrong. No left. No right. Just we pilgrims, searching for our path, aching to love, sometimes lost along the way.

            I like to believe we are one huge dysfunctional family, a human soup, each scrap of humanity adding to the flavor, never losing character. A huge spicy, yummy soup, a perfect blend.

            “You is sooo-o naïve,” one friend tells me.

            The first national election that made an impression on me was in l952. I was seven years old. Dwight D. Eisenhower trounced Adlai Stevenson. There were a lot of reasons Eisenhower won in those tumultuous times. But the reason Stevenson lost, the reason that sticks in my child’s impressionable mind, is that Stevenson was labeled an “egghead”. I remember being astounded that intelligence was a trait to disdain.

            The American people in 1952 were uncomfortable with “intelligence”. Nothing has changed. Maybe our list of things that cause us discomfort has expanded. Maybe not.

            What bothers me more is the list of what makes us comfortable. Bigotry, hate, guns (those used to shoot people, not food), violence, women as sex objects, children as property, ignorance, bullies, decision making by television and Facebook. We are used to these things. Comfortable. I’m not talking about a Democrat-Republican split here. I’m talking about a cultural trend, as I perceive it.

            Our country seems tilted on the edge of Revolution. Maybe it is time. I’m not talking guns-and-bombs revolution. I’m talking revolution that takes guts, revolution in which we stand against bigotry. Be uncomfortable. Stand up to the bully, whatever form the bully takes.

            Another friend says to me, “I’m not bigoted. Why, one of my best friends is _______. You fill in the blank. What? Black, Indian, Jewish, Republican, Rich, Crippled, Catholic, Gay, Old, Mexican, Muslim, Democrat, or, God help us, White?

            Her statement is one of the most bigoted I’m able to bring to mind. I’ll go out on a limb and risk falling and breaking every bone in my body: there is no truth in such words. Once I, and I’ll use myself as an example since we each are bigoted to some degree, let go my need to feel superior, a need fueled by fear, then my friend of “otherness” simply becomes “my friend”. No category. No convenient box in which to stuff him when he’s out of sight.

            Once I let go my fear, then I simply want that person to love me and I want to love him. I use the word love here to mean respect, appreciate, accept, warts and all. Once such a transformation has occurred, in my experience, I no longer “see” our differences. Sure, they are still there. I’m not blind. But they no longer matter. Differences are spices for our “soup”.

            I’ll climb down off my high horse and admit I am naïve enough to believe that one person’s tiny act of beauty or compassion is more powerful than guns and bullies and ignorance. I can’t prove any of this. Go ahead and snort. You’ve a right. I’ve been told my head is in the clouds.

            I’ll still dream. I’ve thought about getting a sleeve tattoo and dying my hair purple on one side and blue on the other, a kind of yin/yang. Sure, I probably won’t do it. It’s one of those fleeting rebellious thoughts without energy. I know you’d change your opinion about me, not that it matters much. My world is small, my influence negligible. I can be bullied too.

            I don’t know how much sand is left to sift through my hour glass. Outside my window, clinging to a yellow canna lily flower cluster, is the brightest red-orange bird I’ve ever seen. James Taylor said “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.” I think I will.  

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

November 17, 2016

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