Possibilites

with life there is hope

there are options

tomorrow is always a new day

that comes with freedom, autonomy and power

not satisfied with the meaning of today

I can choose change, however small

I do not know how the ending of my story will be written

not despair but hope

not stagnancy but creation

*RHINO district Denver*

 

 

Angela Davis from Marin County Jail, May 1971 — truthfront

I wanted to share this word press author and their voice for the current movement for justice and equity in the black community.

In the heat of our pursuit for fundamental human rights, Black people have been continually cautioned to be patient. We are advised that as long as we remain faithful to the existing democratic order, the glorious moment will eventually arrive when we will come into our own as full-fledged human beings. But having been taught […]

via Angela Davis from Marin County Jail, May 1971 — truthfront

The Legacy of Slavery in the US

Racism against the black community in my country is different. It is built on slavery. It is not overt, but like a frog slowly boiled in water, accepted and part of the fabric of our culture.

We are strong individualists and it is a stumbling block in recognizing the legacy that slavery has left to an entire people group. We expect people to rise up out of their circumstances by themselves, hard work, education, ethics and self determination. This can obscure the burden, baggage and the barriers the black community face in having true socio-economic equality.

In a family, if one member is hindered by a disability the other family members (should) sacrifice to help that one member to find self-realization.

I don’t think you can understand the burden of slavery that still exists unless you visit the south, where all of this began. It’s too easy to dismiss unless you look it in the face. It reminds me of the Holocaust deniers who deny Jewish extermination in Germany by the Nazis and Hitler. Many of our citizens who haven’t tasted and touched the roots of slavery cannot grasp the impact it has had on the black community.

If you want to understand why the black community is hurt, angry, deeply wounded don’t look just to the heinous murder of George Floyd, look to slavery. I wish each person could walk through the plantations of the south, see with their eyes where oppressed people (slaves) lived, read their names, read the names of those who died on the slave ships coming from Africa. I wish each person in the US could talk to the descendants of the Africans who were by law kept from learning to read and write,  and hear their oral history. I wish each of our citizens could walk through the large cities of the south and see what color of skin those who live in wealth are and those who live in poverty are. Only in the south can you still taste the remnants of slavery. You can see the buildings; the slave auction house that still stands in downtown Charleston, the slave quarters, the statues to the confederate soldiers (and witness fresh flowers recently placed for them), the remnants of great wealth of the slave owners. Only in the south can you fully appreciate the degradation and oppression of an entire people group.

This is why the black community suffers a form of racism that is different than the rest of the world. We (all US people) should be outraged, mourn, grieve, care, and take responsibility for legacy of slavery that still exists. We should do something concrete. We should have diversity programs, look to the incarceration rate, develop programs, demand justice reform. This is not a generalization either. I believe that as individuals we should each be actively involved in some sort of action. We have a responsibility that goes beyond saying that racism is wrong. Let us act!

Let our black citizens have space to hurt, to voice their pain, to ask for change, to be angry.

We have come a long way since the days where black lives were bought and sold. The civil rights movement brought along much needed change. But until we have true equality and opportunity we have not arrived.

*I took this picture in Charleston in October, 2019. Please note the FRESH flowers that had been placed at the base of the statue*

Thoughts on the George Floyd protests

I was at work the last couple of days, working at the bedsides of neonatal intensive care patients (NICU); busy, distracted, getting home late and tired. Still the news came in. Our city, Denver, was burning in protests over George Floyd and the pent up rage over racism and police brutality.

The nurses, our parents, our colleagues, as in times past when horrific things happen, are unable to slow down and process because we are in the midst of our own medical story. Babies don’t stop being born in crisis, pandemics, civil rights violations, shootings. They are born and some of them are sick. We are responding, working, saving lives in the hospitals, night and day. I was eating lunch on a busy shift when the Sandy Hook story broke and I watched it with my colleagues in the break room. I remember how heavy and sad I felt as I went back to work, but I had to put it behind me, in a corner of my mind to save the lives in front of me. Still, the chatter of the protests about our country was in every room the last few days, among the staff and with the parents.

I thought of this when I was sitting on my front porch today with a cup of coffee listening to the still morning and looking at the bright blue sky and clouds floating by, with my cat jumping into my lap for a rub. I thought of the complexity and unity of our world as another shift works in my unit saving lives and I am now having a leisurely moment to reflect, take in and process what’s been happening the last few days.

I thought about how we are a collective consciousness. All throughout this nation there is a sense of communal unease. I have felt this through COVID with the world trying to communally make sense of what was happening. There is a communal and collective consciousness but a complexity of reactions individually. As we discussed the events at work, you could see each of us struggling to put the situation in context, not offend anyone, and meaningfully grasp the impact of the unfolding story.

I cannot fully understand the catalyst that has prompted the violence. I am not sure who it is coming from. I don’t know who is responsible for the burnings, vandalisms, the guns fired in our downtown. There seem to be so many pieces of evidence which I cannot truly put together. I guess I’m not convinced that the violence is being perpetuated by true protestors. But maybe it is a systemic rage that has built over the years? Or is it people using this as an excuse to behave badly? Is it the radical right, anti-government, gun loving folks going under cover to cause dissension? Or maybe it is a combination of things and people causing violence.  I don’t know. It’s hard to know how to feel as I support the protests and voices that need to be heard, but do not support the vandalism to businesses, the gun violence, the damage to property.

I know for certain that we have an entrenched culture of racism, disparity, and police power in the US. I lived in the south, in Houston, TX for several years in my twenties.  I know what I heard and saw. I saw and heard racism alive and well. We knew the power the police had and that it could go badly for you if you encountered a bad cop. I knew about a town called Vidor, TX where a black person should never stop as it was a hot-bed of Klu Klux Klan. I heard of an older man, through a close relative, who had boasted privately of murdering a black man in a neighboring state with friends in his youth. In Custer, South Dakota on vacation, behind a soup can I found a card by the KKK explaining how they really were the protectors of women and children and inviting membership. It was commonly known in Houston, that if you drove to New Orleans, there was a chance of being stopped by the police on the freeways in Louisiana and having drugs planted in your car and having your car seized. My sister was jailed overnight in a small Texas town on speeding charges by a power hungry cop who didn’t like the way she spoke to him. I heard a parent in the NICU in Houston, TX refer to nurse who was hispanic, in a derogatory term of race. These are only some of my own life experiences as a white woman, not a person of color. But based on them I extrapolate out and know with certainty that we have big problems here in the US. Most cops, and I know a few, are fantastic people, with a true desire to serve the public. But I know, because I know, because I know and any US citizen (and cop) if you’re being gut honest, knows that we have a history of police abuses, bad cops not weeded out, departments that are corrupt, police property seizures etc. There is also a strange conspiracy culture full of those who want to take the government by storm and collect all sorts of weapons and often live in the rural parts of our country; the off the grid kind, the ones who support buying military weapons and often are the white power sorts of people.  All of it is alarming.

It’s like a soup in my head, the problems this country faces. So many wonderful people; the majority of people. But I feel like there is a sort of sickness underneath it all. I’ve felt it as a woman. I know there is endemic discrimination towards woman, particularly in the conservative cultures.  I’ve heard it called “roles” in religious circles. Women are equal, the mantra goes, but we have unique “roles”.  Bullshit. This kind of thinking is why there are deep barriers to true female equality in the US.  Why haven’t we had a woman president yet? A part of me knows it is because the county doesn’t have enough people that would vote a woman in. That alone gives me, a woman, pause for thought.

It feels like we have a bully culture. People take what they want through money, power, selfish individualism, brainwashing, forceful ideology, extremism. The person with the loudest voice, the most power, the most money and the strongest tactics wins. That’s what Trump represents to me. The ability for a person lacking in character and virtue with a heavy load of vices to become President speaks volumes to me. No one is perfect, but on the scale of good to bad, Trump tips heavy on the bad. And yet, because he supports the agenda of certain groups, they are willing to overlook the burden of his vices; his baggage.

All of this, the soup of my country’s problems and the communal consciousness that exists here; I feel all of us wondering how this will play out. I myself wonder if good will win the day. If justice will prevail. If our country will continue down the road of the bully dominating, or will we find leadership that puts a value on equal and fair treatment for all people (the minority, the immigrant, the woman, the poor, the disadvantaged etc.) before power.

*RHINO district, Denver, CO*

 

Good things

The green and scents of spring

the water undaunted laughing at all things

damp and dewy the breeze sultry lingers

the fireflies have come back to play

the grass runs like a velvet cape down the hill towards the shore

the sunsets light the flowers faces as they lift them up to say goodnight

harbingers of hope, peace, beauty and all good things

are here once more

*Arvada, CO*

Thoughts on Aristotle’s Golden Mean

Aristotle’s idea of virtue is distilled from moderation, not excess. It’s been ruminating around in my brain for weeks now, and I drew a chart in my kitchen (the kids weren’t sure what to think, ha!). Ideas of how to set a course for living a meaningful and good life is one of the themes that permeates my life. There are many ways to do this, certainly religion offers some answers, humanism others, modeling from the behavior of others can also be effective. I do like Aristotle’s brain child of moderation though. It takes away the idea of right and wrong (I’m not saying that I advocate no right or wrong, because I do think there is inherently right and wrong). Instead, he suggests that there is wisdom in behavior that doesn’t smack of extremism in nature, either with a deficiency or excess.  Take pleasure, for example. There is nothing inherently right or wrong about pleasure. However living a life lacking pleasure, be it from too many rules, or not enjoying life through a kill-joy mentality or prudishness, in Aristotle’s theory, is just as unwise as the excess of pleasure as seen in over-eating, promiscuity, and general overindulgence in pleasure seeking behaviors.  Self esteem, again leaning on the same idea, can be deficient when one thinks too poorly of him or her self, with negative self thoughts and shame. An excess of self esteem would be seen as arrogance, pride, narcism, and vanity.  The golden mean of pleasure would be temperance and moderation. The golden mean of self esteem would be confidence and proper self love. Interesting thoughts, Aristotle!