I want to start by being very specific about who I am talking to; this post is meant for people who look like me, those of us with white skin.
Many of you woke up this morning and heard the news about Alton Sterling, the 37 year old man who was shot and killed by the police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The sickening feeling in your stomach probably hit you hard as you watched the cell phone footage of a police officer charging and tackling Sterling to the ground. You knew what was coming next. And, within seconds you saw it: the police officer mounts Sterling like a UFC fighter. There is no confrontation. No struggle. Sterling is subdued and then another officer yells “Gun. Gun.” The officer on top of Sterling pulls his gun and within seconds fires multiple rounds killing Alton Sterling.
The height of vanity, isn’t it, to reblog myself?
I was revamping my blog, going through posts and cleaning them up, when I got to this one that I wrote SIX years ago. It wasn’t terrorists that fueled the mean then, it was the fear of a drop in property value, which, wow. But it points to a different truth-do we just look for a reason to not welcome those in dire straits, because we might-gasp-have to sacrifice something in order to do so? I stand, during this Syrian refugee debate, in the same spot as I did with Haitian refugees six year ago.
“The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?”
Boggled. That is my mind right now–befuddled and boggled.
I read the comments section (I know, the last thing ANYONE sane should do is read the comments) that follows an online article about Haitian refugees being flown into the states, both adults to come stay with family members already here, and children and babies here to be taken in and adopted by Americans.
I’m not going to add any power to those comments by quoting them. You know the drill: a bunch of powerless ignorants who think if they spew enough garbage, someone will finally validate their existence. Hate and bigotry are their drugs of choice. It blows my mind to read such drivel.
Basically, the sentiment is that we should NOT be taking in our human brothers and…
I posted this piece on my Facebook page as well. The truth and civility with which it was written are stunning. I encourage you to read every word, even when it feels a little uncomfortable, even when you recognize that there might be things that need to change in your paradigm, the worldview you were raised to find acceptable, and/or your own behavior.
Thanks to Everyday Feminism and Anni Liu for the amazing essay.
Click the link below to read this eye-opening piece.
(this post dedicated to Rosina McVicker, Phyllis Ayoob, Karin Monday, Wendy Geller, Susan Clary, and the people of Our Companions Animal Sanctuary, and Siglinda at The Goathouse Refuge)
I’m starting my “Malevolence-Free Monday” with a thank-you note to the angels-on-earth who devote their hearts, homes, and wallets to Animal Rescue. In the attached video, there’s a line from Annette King-Tucker’s poem (credit below): “I know of no creature unworthy of my time.” That’s the Rescuer, in a nutshell. If every heart on our planet felt this way-and I don’t mean saying it, or posting a cute meme about it, but living it and exemplifying it with action? There would be no war, no hate, no bigotry, no superiority-dances being done by the jib-jab-looking talking heads on televison. Yes, the pundits would be out of business but you know, people not dying because of their skin color, orientation/identification, or beliefs, so okay. But I digress.
I am honored to know some rescue people. They are as diverse a group (as far as political views, socio-eco status, religious views or lack thereof, etc.) as you’ll ever find. They love and respect each other. They don’t waste their time with hard-hearted thoughts about each other because of their philosophical or political leanings. Why? Because at the core of their open and loving hearts lies the truth from Ms. King-Tucker’s poem: “I know of no creature unworthy of my time.” That’s not just a belief to a Rescuer-it has become a part of their DNA. These are, on so many levels, the most evolved humans on earth. I know this to be true. I also know that they are some of the most un-sung heroes; fortunately for us and for millions of animals, they don’t do any of it for glory or thanks. But they deserve some human gratitude. Which, I’ll grant you, is nothing compared to the grateful smile of a Pit Bull who was once used as a bait dog and is now looking at you from his side of the couch, waiting for you to throw the ball again-but hopefully, Rescue people, you’ll read this and share it with other like-hearted heroes. I want you to know how much I appreciate you:
“I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.” -Mother Teresa
I am no big hero.
I would NEVER have called all Bush supporters a bunch of conservative morons. Why? Because not all conservatives are morons. Because it’s prejudicial and irrational. Because, no matter how I felt about W, the people who loved him simply disagreed with me. That doesn’t make them morons; it makes them human-there are as many opinions and philosophies as there are humans.
To paint any group with a broad brush is so unfair, so wrong, and though apparently I’m a Universal Unitarian according to the latest circulating survey and maybe not the resident expert, it is SO not Christian. And it’s pretty hate-filled as well, and I do disagree with hate. I suspect that those spewing the “liberal morons” meanstream have issues that go much deeper than those politic. But I digress.
Listen, I could not stand where Bush took us, and it’s well documented how his brother decimated Florida and is profiteering on children’s emotional health while stealing their rights to a real education. I’m not here to argue about that, and I won’t. But you know what I didn’t do? Scream hate about him, pass along undocumented forwards mislabled as “information,” pass along repugnant and despicable memes, or call his supporters vile names.
That doesn’t make me any kind of hero or peacenik (there’s plenty else that proves the peacenik part); it makes me a person who respects others, and, agree with them or not, respects their AMERICAN-GIVEN RIGHT to have opinions other than mine. And for those who claim Christianity, the (at least the God who lives in and around me) GOD-GIVEN right to not be belittled by others for having ideas.
^^ Don’t just post it, DO it! ^^
When you call people morons, it dilutes (and in a reader’s mind, deletes) anything in your message that may have been informed or meaningful. Please consider looking over your status updates over the last few weeks. Your updates=your reputation. Your typing fingers are the brush, your words are your paints, and your page is your canvas. Would you display your ‘art’ proudly?
I’m okay with my social media canvas, even if some of my updates are silly, the quotes are occasionally overly simplistic and trite, and my attempts at humor are sometimes a little cringe-worthy. I will stand in my ‘gallery’ without regret.
Listen, I’m not always right, not always humble, not always as tasteful as I might be, and certainly not as funny or clever as I like to think I am. But I am an unapologetic liberal. Unapologetic bleeding heart. Unapologetic introvert. Unapologetic Star Trek dork, General Hospital fan, and avid reader of everything. Unapologetic advocate for children, for my child, for victims of sexual abuse. Unapologetic over-poster of cat photos. Unapologetic in my never-ending and oft-faltering quest to be kind and my mission to beg the same from everyone else, because it is the ONLY way this is all going to get better.
I take care of a few feral kittens who live in my neighborhood. They are healthy and happy, with the exception of one baby I’ve named Phoenix.
Phoenix is a sweet and loving feral who needs a lot of medical attention. I am virtually fundless but cannot watch this girl suffer when she still has so much spirit and life in her. She has fleas, ear mites, roundworm, and a nasty skin infection, and that’s just what I can see.
I set up a “Chip In” page to raise funds to help her live the happy life she deserves. Once she’s well, I’ll work on finding her a home. She’s full of spunk, purrs, and talks up a storm. Somebody will be very lucky to have this little girl as a best friend!
Believe me, I understand broke. If you can’t donate a buck or two, you can still help- say a prayer for little “Pheenie.”
4/28: Phoenix update-There were enough donations to the ChipIn page that I was able to get enough help for Phoenix that she now looks like this:
6/22/13: Phoenix is healthy and beautiful, but quick and smart-I haven’t yet been able to catch her and get her spayed. She did have a small litter of two kittens (only two,thank goodness) on my front porch, and took very good care of them. I am determined to get her spayed and vaccinated this summer. Wish me luck!
11/29/15: Phoenix is neutered, vaccinated, happy, and healthy! We did this for about 15 neighborhood strays, and of that group, there are 5 left, and two new kitties have been visiting for breakfast, so I imagine we’ll take care of them too so that they won’t procreate.
“Life is life – whether in a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference there between a cat or a man. The idea of difference is a human conception for man’s own advantage.”
Shelters are filled to overflowing with sad and frightened animals. The suffering they experience in the bleakness of their cages, their grief at being separated from their humans, their babies, or their mothers, their confusion and fear just before their ‘euthanization–‘ all of those energies are released into the universe, enlarging the dark cloud that hovers over not just humanity but all beings. The pain we feel (or avoid by changing the channel and burying our heads) when that dog-gone (yes, intended) Sarah Mclachlan commercial comes on and makes us cry-that is an organic, authentic, primordial cosmic hint: we can do better for our planet-mates. We must do better.
I have come, through the magic of Facebook, to know a peaceful warrior by the name of DJ Chandler. I would only mangle her bio if I tried, but if you’re curious, no doubt you can find her online. I was inspired to share her with you because she is personally responsible for the diminishment of the toxic cloud of confusion due to her tireless efforts to find forever homes for shelter animals on Death Row. She organizes people to pull the animals from high-kill shelters, shows us how to contribute to their veterinary expenses, finds foster homes, and arranges animal transport from shelter to vet to foster to new home. She has also rescued and fostered countless dogs, cats, and horses herself.
Their physical injuries are mended. Their fears are (sometimes very slowly and painstakingly) allayed. Their sadness is loved away. The cloud dissipates just a little more as each cat starts to purr again, as each dog puts his head on his new human’s knee for the first time and looks up with trepidation and-wavering-trust.
“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.”
“Hey, I’ve got mine.”
“I’ve earned this.”
“Nobody’s taking anything away from me.”
“Let them take care of themselves.”
Almost 15 years ago, I was just beginning the single mom chapter of my life. I’d just built a house for my son and myself. Not long after we moved in, my household income took a major hit and I found myself treading water, holding my kid above my head as the sharks circled. I was thrown a lifeline by someone I’d never even met, the father of a friend.
This man is not an educated man, in the official sense of the word. But he tips the scale on wisdom.
This man worked over 40 years in what would be called an unskilled profession. But he was skilled at his job, and demonstrated a work ethic that was rewarded by his employer as if he was an executive.
This gentleman, in his blue collar custodial job, saved diligently and had put together a nice-sized nest egg for his retirement. In other words, he’d “got his” –and had earned every penny, every accolade, and had every right to enjoy his retirement by taking it easy and looking out for number one.
Instead, he put $1000.00 in a plain envelope and told my friend to give it to me.
My friend had mentioned my circumstances to this hero in passing, and he decided to help. A couple of weeks later he surprised my friend with the envelope, who then floored me by putting it in my hands.
“No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger that its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.”
The chain is no stronger than its weakest link. Our national (for me global chain, you know I’m not fond of borders) chain is full of ‘weakest links,’ those who are keeping people down, and by doing so are denying themselves their own flight into true freedom. Some I consider to be in this category (but great news! If they stop doing it, they return to shiny, unbreakable forged steel immediately):
Anyone who still uses the antiquated and antipathethic “they just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps” pontification. The people they’re talking about don’t have bootstraps, or boots, or the means to acquire them. Anyway, they don’t need boots so much as compassion.
*Try buying boots when you’re followed and given the evil eye the second you walk into a store.
*Try buying boots with the food stamps you’ve been forced to use because you left an abusive husband and brought 4 kids and a cat with you and you’re all sleeping on a cousin’s screened porch.
*Try buying boots when you’re ashamed to go into the store in your unwashed clothes -can’t do laundry because you don’t have running water.
*Try getting a job to buy boots when you don’t have clothes to wear to the interview.
*Try buying boots when no one in the store will talk to you because you are clearly homeless and as such you are assumed to be schizophrenic or alcoholic, or both, but you’re just another college-educated victim of the sub-prime fiasco and lost your home.
“Once, when we were discussing a world peace project with my teacher Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, somebody asked him, ‘Where is all the money going to come from?’ And he replied without hesitation, ‘From wherever it is at the moment.’ “
The above anecdote resonated within me on many levels. First, the obvious grabber, is that the Maharishi’s faith was unwavering that the funding for the Peace project would come. His faith was steadfast to the point that worrying over the fund-raising was unnecessary. He knew that the money for the project already existed in the world; in time, the way to amass the financial support would make itself known, and the project would commence.
As a single mother living on a teacher’s wage, may I now say that wherever the money is at the moment, it’s not in my checking account, and it hasn’t mapquested my address yet. I am no living example of the attitude conveyed by the Maharishi. Worrying about money is a daily event (the good news is, when I have enough-notice I didn’t say “when I’m rich”-I’ll stop worrying.).
Yet it did strike me as remarkable, this unwavering faith……”from wherever it is at the moment.” So simple, so complex, so profound.
It’s not fund-raising, though, or my electric bill, that really prompted some thinking on my part. It was my own faith-my deep and abiding belief that a compassionate and peaceful world is possible. Because it is possible; in fact, the seeds of it already exist.
Within every beating heart is the seed of peace. It’s like ground cover, sprouting and spreading in all directions.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama
I remember being about 10 years old. I was over at a friend’s house. We were in her room on her bed, giggling, talking about boys and school and 10 year-old stuff. The conversation turned to a second friend. It was pretty benign until we started talking about an aspect of her appearance. As someone who was ridiculed daily, I don’t know why I did this, but I made some stupid remark that our pea brains found to be just hysterical. What I didn’t know was that Friend 1 had stashed Friend 2 under the bed just before I arrived.
When Friend 2 slid out from under that bed, the embarrassment and shame I felt reverberated within every cell of my body. Even now, writing about it, the echo of that sensation makes me cringe. Of course, Friend 1 was simply delighted by our discomfort, and Friend 2 bravely laughed it off. Because when you’re 10 that’s what you do.
But decades later, I wonder if Friend 2 remembers that afternoon; whether or not she recalls that episode, I know that moment put a dent in her self-confidence.
I wish I could say from that moment on I spent the rest of my childhood speaking only golden platitudes about everyone I knew. Nope, though I did develop a habit of peering under the furniture before I opened my yap. And while I did make a concerted attempt to speak kindly, I was still an insecure kid, after all, and at the time I thought being what I perceived as ‘accepted’ was more important than anything else.
I was well into adulthood before I got it together gossip-wise.
*****Disclaimer! ‘got it together’ is a relative term in this musing; I still fall into the trap occasionally but with effort can change the spin of a remark mid-sentence. When that doesn’t work, I sometimes call my own self out in front of whoever I’m talking to, which can be a tad disconcerting to my companion….*****
I wonder every day about people who are angry at others who see the world in a different way; about those who are offended by the beliefs that don’t line up perfectly with their own; about those who can somehow justify a bias toward people whose skin is a different hue, fellow humans who worship in a different house, those in poverty, anyone who speaks English with an accent, those who want to marry but legally cannot, and (insert any other subgroup of humanity here); about righteous indignation in general.
Does this acrimony stem from fear? “If she can believe that so strongly, then maybe I’M wrong/bad/stupid?”
Is it born of a need to feel superior? “Your wrong-ness validates my wonderful-ness!”
Can insecurity be the fuel? “If YOU are beautiful but don’t look like me, maybe I’m not so cute after all.”
There is a church here in Orlando called Hope Unites. It is part of the UCC, which from what I gather, is based upon the “Come as you are” philosophy. A church that pays more than lip service to “All are Welcome” (straight, GLBT, brown, white, black, any denomination) is my kind of house.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if every house, every dinner table, every school, church, and country club had an “All are Welcome–and Celebrated!” sign at the entrance?
hmmmm….wait a minute….here I am wishing everyone feels like I do. Am I guilty of exactly what I was pondering in the beginning of this musing?
Call me stubborn, but I refuse to quit! T.R.U.E. G.R.I.T. is the foundation to success in learning and life! Exploring the dynamics of a successful classroom and how grit is a vital characteristic for student achievement