Monday, January 15, 2018

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a day of reflection and resolve to do all we can to make this a better world, to stand up for the marginalized, and to influence change for the better through non-violent means. Each and every person can make a difference by the seemingly little things they do. Great change is made up of a lot of those 'little' things. You make a difference by every positive thing you do, every smile you give to others, every time you stand up for a friend or stranger. Every time one of us who are privileged (and most of us are in one way or another) reaches out to give hope and help to one who is marginalized , we make this world a better place.

11 years after Dr King was shot down my mother passed away. Her passing was much less sudden and peaceful, but still it was way too soon. Today I remember that passing , 39 years ago on this date. And I pause to remember and reflect on the legacy she left - a legacy of inclusion,  compassion for all , and a quiet stand against bigotry, hate, and prejudice.

Two instances I remember. One was from the church we attended when I was young. The church had sent missionaries to Africa, specifically Cameroon, and had shared the gospel and built churches and helped the people improve their lives over many years. One day one of the native pastors came to visit our church and was sitting in the pews. My mom overheard a few ladies comment that 'why is he here?" dismissively. She thought to herself how can they be so prejudiced . We send missionaries over there , but heaven forbid they come over here to our church. The church was very white. it was a good church overall, but there were still people who hadn't quite got the message that God loved the world not just their little corner of it. They only saw God for the folks that were like them. My mom was conservative but she lived the love of God and knew it was for everyone.

A second example was when I was in college in Arizona. We had neighbors who were very poor - and had not had the advantage of education, yet she showed love to them just like any other. Our school district was always having problems with getting school levies passed to fund improvements. Part of the reason was that included in the school district area was a retirement community (50+) where many had the idea that that since they had raised their kids they shouldn't have to fund anybody else's kids. They didn 't want 'their" taxes raised when it wasn't benefitting them,

My mom was appalled at the selfishness of those folks. She was in her 50s at the time and all 5 of her kids were grown, so she did not have any stake in public education herself. And she could qualify for living in that retirement community. But all her life she had been involved with teaching kids (hers and others) , didn't want to wall herself away from kids, and felt a responsibility to providing help to others. She felt that the community had an obligation to provide a good education for all. And she was so happy when the retirement community (Sun City) was separated from our school district and we could finally get school levies passed to provide for the improvements they despirately needed

Like Dr King her legacy lives on in the hearts and minds and lives of those who knew and loved her. And in even in the lives of those who never knew her, but have been touched by those who did and who were changed by it.
Thanks Mom

Monday, January 1, 2018

new year's

It is a new year and time for new opportunities to make a difference in this world.
A time to resist what and who are wrong , and fiercely support what and who are doing right.
Every day can bring new discoveries and new open doors - every day can be new year's day.
Time for reflection and legacy. Reflect on what has gone before and resolve to build upon the good and resist the bad. To make amends for past misdeeds and faulty thinking.To celebrate when we got it right.
In the midst of our looking back in amazement and regret at what was done by our ancestors, it is good for us also to examine what we are currently doing now that if not corrected will be viewed with regret by our descendants.  The errors in the past often occurred because nobody thought to or had courage to question them. We need to examine our assumptions and current common practices to see if there are errors, hidden prejudices, group labels. We are all capable of indifference and faulty assumptions and just going along to get along. We all have moments of blindness to others' pain.

Let us resolve to be open eyed, open eared, open hearted  to all, not just to those who look, speak, or worship like we do. Let us resolve to remember that we are citizens of one world, not just one country, that everyone on this planet is our brother or sister, and that as John Donne said, "no man is an island' .....Let us resolve to help 'the least of these" and help all rise.

I resolve to share more reflections and legacy tips as we travel through this year.  It is time for us who have been around here a long time to reflect on what we have learned and leave a legacy for those who come after so that we can build a better world.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Remembering Bobby

There are moments in your life for which you always remember where you were and what you were doing.  Like Pearl Harbor was to my parents' generation, and 9-11 to more recent generations, the Kennedy and King assassinations were not just historical events. They were personal - part of our lives - especially since their words live on and resonate in our lives.

I don't have a specific memory about Martin Luther King, though I love to read his speeches - such passion!  I don't have a specific memory about JFK, though again his words invigorated a nation and called us to a better place. And though I don't recall hearing Bobby Kennedy speak,  I remember very vividly where I was the night he died.  It was 45 years ago this week.

The summer of 1968 my parents and I traveled from Oregon down to Arizona to pick up my youngest sister, Betty, after she finished her freshman year at the University of Arizona in Tucson. We  did a day trip to Nogales, including my first foray into Mexico, and then returned to Tucson. While we were resting at a little motel we heard the news on the radio that Bobby had been shot. The next day we traveled several hours north to the town of Cottonwood and stayed the night with family friends. It was there that we heard the news that Bobby had died (it was 26 hours from when he was shot till he was pronounced dead).

In the years since I have learned and read more about Bobby and John and Martin and though all three were flawed, they spoke to the better part of us, inspiring us to rise above the ordinary and challenge the status quo. They accomplished much in their all-too-short lives. They were masters at persuasion and focused on being "for" things, not just "against" wrong. We really need more people  like them today and we need to remember their words.

As the late Teddy Kennedy said in his eulogy of his older brother Bobby, "My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world." Teddy strove to live out his brother's legacy.

And he closed with words that I have taken as a mantra: "Some men see things as they are and say why?. I dream things that never were and say why not?" I believe we need a little more "why not?" thinking today.

text of Edward Kennedy's eulogy of his brother Robert

Monday, May 27, 2013

remembering Arlington

I remember years ago visiting my uncle's grave in Arlington National Cemetery. He was a Navy ensign pilot during WWII and was killed in a plane crash while he was training a new pilot. He had just gotten married a few weeks before and so it was especially hard on my grandparents and my mom (as well as his widow). I never got to meet him, though I played his cello in school and heard many stories from my Mom about this creative, fun-loving brother of hers.

I remember seeing a group of kids walk by and I remember thinking "Oh God, please no more stupid wars. Please protect these kids from those who would throw their lives away as a way to make political points or settle personal scores".  The Iraq war was still going on then and I was opposed to it from the beginning because it was such a stupid war.  We had a bumper sticker which said "Support the troops, Bring them home". Those who serve should have their service honored, in part by using that service wisely.

We have had in our history too many wars and other military engagements which squandered many lives and should have been avoided. One of these was the Mexican-American War, which was opposed by Congressman Abraham Lincoln, later one of our greatest Presidents. He believed that it was contrived and not in our national interest. He was one who agonized over war, not gloried in it, something that our political leaders should remember and emulate.

Gazing over the field at Arlington should be a requirement for anyone who contemplates political office. And remembering the lives those graves represent should be a requirement for everyone. Honor the dead and be resolved that, as Lincoln said, "these lives should not have died in vain".

Saturday, May 18, 2013

faulty memories

For those of you in the Pacific Northwest do you remember how  several years ago Mt St Helens rumbled to life again with ash plumes and lava dome buildup? It was a nervous time for many, but after a time it all quieted down. No repeat of the 1980 eruption whose anniversary we remember today. Anyone who would say the mountain's recent activity was like the 1980 event would be laughed at, since such a comparison would be ludicrous.

Well, it is also ludicrous to compare the current administrations scandals/misdeeds to Watergate as some have recently done. While I have issues with some things the  Obama administration has done or not done, particularly in the civil liberties arena, there is no comparison to Watergate and the actions of Nixon. It is personal for me, since I politically "came of age" in that era and remember well the events. Just as with 9-11 I remember where I was and what I was doing the day President Nixon resigned (the only time that has happened in American history) and remember the days of listening to Senate and House Committee hearings involving Watergate. That was much worse than anything today, by far.

The problem is that those who would make such comparisons today are the same ones who back in the 70's were whitewashing any wrong Nixon. So of course they would paint Obama as worse than Nixon. They have faulty memories of the past  because of their bias. Those of us who lived through eras such as Watergate must stay true to what we know and help others to learn the truth about the past.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

beware of pointing fingers

Once again leave it up to Sister Sarah (Palin) and friends to point fingers and ignore the irony. Recently the IRS had to issue an apology because they had been giving extra scrutiny to any organization with "tea party"or "patriot" in their name on applications for tax exempt status during the 2012 election. I agree that the IRS should apologize, but at the same time I think it is a bit much for Palin and friends to try to make political hay out of it.

Why? Well, they are the same kind of people who absolutely no problem with warrant-less wiretapping of phones, traffic stops and workplace ICE raids based on suspicion of illegal alien status, and measures that forced people to "prove" that they were not up to something wrong (like voter ID laws). Their response when confronted was always "well, if you have nothing to hide you won't have a problem with it". Now they sing a different tune.

We're not talking about increased penalties, just examination. Perhaps they are afraid some IRS person will find out they are a fraud? I don't agree with what the IRS did, but I think in light of past statements certain political figures should refrain from protesting when it's their "goose" that's getting cooked.

As a wise person said, when you point your finger at someone remember that four other fingers are pointing back at you. ....Just my two cents for today.

Friday, May 3, 2013

organized for success

Many people have issues with unions and think poorly of the term "organized labor". They point to reported abuses of power (like Jimmy Hoffa, etc) or the influence of union money in politics. Or they are so "pro-business" that they think company management should be able to do whatever it wants and that people should just "be happy that they have a job". While there no organizations are perfect, why should that be a reason to oppose organization? I mean, businesses organize so why shouldn't workers?

The influence of organized labor has brought great and beneficial changes in the workplace. The 40 hr workweek (5 day week of 8 hr days), payment for overtime, paid sick leave, and workplace safety standards (OSHA) are just a few of the reasons we should be thankful to unions. And we need to remain vigilant because unions are under attack across the country - Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, all have governors strenuously opposed to workers organizing. I know from experience how not having a union can be detrimental to workers. Let's not forget to be thankful and continue to push for better workplaces through an organized workforce.