Overwhelming, the number of letters Your soul can handle, Before it all comes crashing done. Twelve letters, rolled off the tongue, Held in abeyance only by the off switch. How? Why? And the answers pull me Into a world I do not know. Positions on humanity that spout And sputter into being based On a nameless fear of something... Political parties spare for the news Broadcasting a descent from known facts Until even the broadcasters must turn away. Limits on being human, kind, mindful, Actions based on color, mindset, empty empathy. "Don't let them in." No, not out either, For a four year old refugee might Play games of war as youth becomes teen. It's a ridiculous argument, Holding that a sixty-five year old... Change all that was good, helpful, given As a gift from government. Make it void of Color or charm and let me scream My frustration at the overwhelming hatred Of bigots, fanatics, tv viewers... They sing a song of hatred, without A single why. One hundred thousand visas, Cancelling hope. Banks cheering, burdens given, Regulations falling, Morality redefined Millions of mothers standing, fist raised to the morn. Overwhelming, twelve letters becoming twenty-four. Discourse to hold off the helplessness Of being Disabled, a woman, unable, wished able, To make the world step back into sanity. Not the globe, My world, my resolve, my liberty. You threaten me at your peril, for I think. I write. I protest and resolve. I turn, I hide nothing, I am...and being I must Prevent this overwhelming sense of doom. Overwhelmed as we rise, surrounded by void. By Twelve letters that roll off the tongue. Easy letters. Ts and Ls, Es, O, a G. Government stating that there are none of the above. Twelve letters that hold us back. W, V, R, H, M Twelve letters to define the abject despair, Actively adding the ing to the pile We face now, with limits on rights, hopes, dreams, loves, friends, health, Overwhelming. And continuing...
I used the F word on another WordPress account. There is no excuse, I lost my temper. You see, I assume things about people: that they are logical, have a grasp of life, have been in the world for a bit. I should know better. I tend to become attached to people, to care what they think. Like I say, I assume.
I couldn’t be more wrong. The column is written by someone who also has MS. He’s a blogger and a blog linker. He keeps one foot in the golfing door. I assume he has money. He never talks about needing anything, although most of us with MS do have needs. Most of us won’t admit that publicly.
So, why did I use the F word? Because with no knowledge of what young adults go through, he dismissed them all as whiny little babies that should take their ball and go home. He mocked them as participation trophy winners who had better understand that life was about more than participation and they should get on with their lives. Yup, that was the trigger. Protesting against what happened in the election, the issues that they are terrified of, the using our Bill of Rights, our millennials are involved and passionate about their issues. I care about that. It’s part of being a Patriot.
I could give him the short list of my background, but I’m not sure he wants that conversation. So rather than try to be glorified by me, let me stick to the young ones and why I care about them.
When something happens in someone’s life, it could be death, illness, a lack of the basics for survival, you act on what you believe. You act on what you have learned. You act on the compassion you have learned. You act on hard, cold facts that stare at you in your cup of coffee. The people who helped you learn and grow believe that you can face anything together. They watch from the sidelines after their influence time has waned, and they care. My students rallied around me when the MS hit, making sure I had contact with their worlds still. I care about them, all of them. I even care about the one student I could never win over to being a participant. They have many years to grow in yet.
Teachers get nine months with your children. We make mistakes, but we believe in your young people and we never forget them. We watch them learn honesty, learn to donate time to important issues, to protect their brothers and sisters in humanity, to take on issues head first, to fall down, to get back up but to always participate. We love our students. Some teachers showing it through gentle lessons, some teachers by being brutal, but honest, teaching that facing an issue is just the beginning.
I did all the volunteer things as a mom and teacher. Daisy Scouts and Brownies for my daughter, Tiger, Cub, and Boy Scouts for my son. I did Grad night for three years, before the serious onset of my MS. I held after school clubs that were varied and based on population needs. Let’s see: a Magic the Gathering Club in three different schools, Yearbook, Literary magazine, Shakespeare club, Theater, a pre-finals Finger Nail polishing/snack eating study relaxation club for women in high school who were test phobic, a Belly Dance Club, a gardening club. I volunteered at Leesylvania State Park, charging nothing for my time, but reading to preschoolers, working for the Breast Cancer Walk, providing raffle gifts of framed photography, teaching painting on driftwood, cleaning the Visitor Center, joined Friends of Leesylvania to help where help was needed, was on the crew to work for CAST (for children who were taken fishing by a “Captain” on a one to one relationship), decorated for park functions, played in the Haunted History Hike opposite a 15 year old “husband” from the Fairfax family (creepy in a way), taught embroidery and cross stitching, taught a geography club, a stamp club, created a school post office and taught kids to run it. I did a lot more. Why? Because that participation trophy helped everyone. I got to meet and work with some great kids, great young adults who were taking their place in the world. I believe in our Millennials. That’s why I got angry.
I hold people who have gone through difficulties to a high standard of emotional intelligence. This man stated that he didn’t care enough about the election to vote for a difference. That’s cool. I didn’t vote for Trump or Johnson, thinking instead that issues were more important than flailing away at the dark. I understand where the young are coming from, as I am a child of the 60s. Human rights have been on my target for 55 of my almost 59 years. My parents made sure that I understood the difference between right and wrong, helping and hurting, motivation and laziness. They never gave false praise and if you did get some, there was always a caveat on the fact you could still do better. You can ask my mother if you like. She reads my writing now too.
We learned to share. When a Cambodian family came to the US and the father started working at Bachman’s Nursery, my family gave them clothing, toys, a grocery bag of food, furniture which my parents reupholstered to look brand new, and friendship. There was a Lesbian couple that my parents advocated for, believing that the right to be who you are should never be a matter of debate. There was a community center where my parents volunteered and helped make a success. We did paper drives, shoveled snow for our elders, mowed lawns and raked leaves, started gardens with our neighbors, and always, participation was a requirement to be part of society.
I learned to protest unfairnesses in Middle School and was an odd duck then and now in believing in our society. I believe that our reaction to the world, and those who have less than we, is how we show our greatness. I went to a Catholic college although I am not a Catholic. The sisters were Benedictines and at the end of the robes and coif. They were participants in everything in life. Competent women, with scary energy, they taught us by example. The Benedictine rule says to treat each man (person) as if they were Christ himself at your door, to open and allow the hospitality of a heart to go forward by helping another. See, Sisters, I did listen. So that is what I do. I’m not a Christian, that part didn’t stick, but I got all of the really important parts. That’s what makes me angry about this person’s blog.
He had no interest in doing something for others. He sat back and attacked those very children that I believe in with no background, no investigation, and was smug about it. He was more worried that I had sworn on his page ONCE, than he was concerned about the young of this country, who by the way, will run his retirement home and future medical care. He was lazy in approaching the matter of the right to be involved. He was lazy in throwing out a point of view without researching it, and he was lazy disregarding any point of view but his own. He offended me. I lost my temper. I swore and demanded that he was better than what he had written. At that point, I offended him and lost all pretense of being able to be fair and impartial, able to discuss and listen, and I was wrong.
I have a new friend who says if you go into a conversation with your mouth hanging open, you won’t learn anything. It took him an hour to condense his comments to that line. He’s a wise man. He thought before he spoke, synthesized what I said into what he understood, checked his clarity before he responded, and then he did respond. I should have acted more like that. I didn’t. I am a passionate woman about a lot of things. Sometimes I let that passion out to play and it doesn’t always play nicely with others. I’ll work on that. In the meantime, be aware that those young people (under 50) who are participating in the world right now are under my protection. I may not be much protection, but I’m there in the wings waiting to see if they need me. I’ll work on that think before I speak thing, I’m usually pretty quiet, but it will take time.
I guess that I believe in progress forward, a planet we can live on, policies that do not injure, and that we had better start participating before we blow each other up, again. So, Mr. Columnist, whom I shall not name, but will send this link to, you are right. I did blow up and hold you to my standard, not understanding what yours it, and yes, I did use one word that I should never have used. There is no excuse for my words that were written in hot white heat. I judged you. I annoyed you. I went over the top. Passion is no excuse for bad manners. So I apologize to you. I hope you will understand that you touched a nerve within my soul, but please understand that that was no reason for me reacting like I did.
I never thought I’d see the day that teachers would ask parents in approved letters from school administrations to keep the news from children because it would cause discipline charges. If anything, when I taught I wanted my students to watch the news and look for elements of who, what, where, when and why. A short article written to summarize the important news of the day that could be used to teach how the correspondence of knowledge, application and discovery shaped our worlds was a positive thing. Of course, there were problems with discovering what was important and what was simply to incite a feeling that wouldn’t be allowed in polite society. But these days, I’d make sure my children didn’t watch the news when politics are highlighted. Running for the highest office in our land must show figures who, with integrity, have a positive regard for our country, the office, and the outcomes of public service. At least that is what I believed would occur, right up until this year.
This year I am embarrassed to be known as a voter. I’ll be even more embarrassed if I don’t vote. What are my choices? A bully pulpit like Theodore Roosevelt? A moralist? A preacher’s pet? A shrill voice shouting, “Mememe” without room for punctuation? How can these people be taken seriously? If I choose one, whose message is not only consistent but in my best interests to speak about, am I guilty if I promote my opinion about him?
I have never seen such a snarl of childlike behavior coming out of grown men and women. I get emails asking for money multiple times a day as the sky is falling. Watching the skies, I have seen the heaven’s holding in their assigned place, clouds up where they belong, and the wind sweeping up after their parade. Watching the television, I have see a grown man inciting to riot, to violence and then blaming it on anyone but himself. He’s a front runner. I have seen a woman portray herself as one of the people but taking the very money from sources that she had urged her presidential husband to veto during his turn. I have seen an older man criticized because he is over 70 and in good health. How can that be a disability? I have a disability. He’s been at work for over 55 years and now they want a physical before they let him run? Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t have a physical first and he had heart issues as well as suffered from the effects of polio in his life. Edward Kennedy came out in opposition to forces within our society that were actively seeking to control our every waking moment. He was against racism, poverty, organized crime and intellectually destroying movements who wanted to commercialize our foreign policy. And Humphrey, poor man, struck down by cancer when all he wanted was to make the world a better place for all of us. Jimmy Carter has done more good, and set a better example, after he left the office of president. When he was President, the congress refused to act positively on his proposals. Now the man has not only a sterling reputation for fairness, concern and compassion, but his cancer is in remission because of presidential funding of research.
We pay athletes millions of dollars. A man or woman, working blue collar jobs, will make in their entire lifetimes less than these young men make in a single year. Those who can take time to have a social life, vacation and go to concerts in addition to their occupations will live much longer than those of us who try to exist from paycheck to paycheck. The oil industries, gas industries, and coal industries treat their employees as expendable while they put profits in the pockets of their blue suits (or black suits or even a leisure shirt from Hawaii) and don’t use it to update and safeguard their resources. Then they turn around and swear that prices are so low for the public that it will ruin the economy. Word folks, the people who work to do all of the menial jobs in this country were very appreciative when prices fell. But do the bottom and middle of society not count?
There are people who work for others; teachers, nurses, firefighters and yes, even the police who continue to do their jobs just because they are needed. Bad apples aside, shouldn’t they have healthcare? No, not insurance, yet another bloated industry. HEALTHCARE. You bet they should.
I’ve seen HOAs who work for their communities turn right around and hire management groups who work against them. The management groups are turning quite a profit and neighborhoods become less neighborly as a result. Mine will charge you a 36% fine if you are late by even a day. 36% is about the beginning of title loans, which capture families who have little and are about to have even less. Food is not a luxury. Clean water is not a luxury. We have in Michigan a governor who encouraged Flint to use water they knew was unpalatable and downright poisonous. Can’t we on the bottom pay for a dollar a bottle? How come we don’t have those resources, now that industry moved away and jobs are found at the dollar store?
I’m angry that somehow the spirit of the United States that advocated “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America” has been swept aside and replaced with “We the masses have the right to be prosecuted and detained because of the color of our skin or our income levels or sexual preference to the point of execution that needs no justification and has no limits, to be given fearful messages by leaders that ensure compliance to new legislative whims, to starve, freeze and die of illnesses before our time, to become the least educated country in this world, to have militant organizations terrorize our own people, to destroy our natural resources, to bully and insight to riot whenever it is possible the subjects who live within our borders, to keep out any and all compassion towards the rest of the world, to profit from all moneys taken and abused and misused by the rich…” I’m angry.
I have a right to be angry. I served in the US Army, even though women were given treatment I wouldn’t inflict on a stray possum. I taught in this country’s public schools. I taught in a school system that the newer residents who were wealthier got new schools and the best equipment and opportunities. I also taught on the poor side of town. I taught school children in buildings that were old, worn, and dangerous. I taught where there weren’t enough text books to give each student one, and certainly they were not current textbooks with newly learned science and technology lessons. I put my personal money into buying books for students to read, to learn from, and I was glad to do so. I stayed every day, subjected to every illness that a child brings to school on the hands or in their sneezes when they should have been home safely in bed. I contracted an auto-immune disease. Perhaps the sneezes were part of that, perhaps not. But I want, I DEMAND, that I and every other person on the face of these states that banded together in brotherhood and sisterhood to create a nation that would rise to be a star at the top of the global factions called countries because of its policies that would eradicate poverty, racism, violence, hatred, bigotry, disease, religious zealotry and more. Those who target the poor and middle-income in an effort to increase the divide between the classes need to be put on notice that their moment of greed is at an end and that we as a people will be entitled to live our lives productively, happily and able to share in those “Blessings of Liberty” and tolerance that we were promised.
I remember the 1960s when JFK spoke about working together, when the Peace Corps was a way to serve the world, when Martin Luther King Jr used the teachings of Gandhi to mandate a peaceful reproach and civil disobedience in the face of wrong doing so that the wrong doing would end. I remember Robert Kennedy speaking and the enthusiasm of his voice proclaiming that the time had come for things to start becoming open to humanity and its needs. I was watching the TV as a child when John, Martin and Robert were murdered. I watched my parents who were numb after all of the violence. I wanted the “Blessing of Liberty.” I still do.
Smashing down a wall of indifference,
I dreamed of shouting,
angry and persistent as I fought
The organization that was to be my family.
My home, my yard, my neighborhood
Finding fault, faulting me
For two hours early on the destination
Of a trash can. I wave my pen,
Streak across the open places fully
In my birthday suit.
What have we done to deserve contempt?
The management company
describing themselves in the shrill icon
of a Cardinal and I take my fancy pen
to a murder of incompetents who
know neither the law or compassion.
I wake knowing that the meeting is
Wallowing in two hours as I grab a pen
And angrily exit the door of my home.
Insolvent and angry, you promised.
You lied, and you stole our lives.
Confronting lies isn’t easy
In the face of the opposition,
the political correctness..
But the world froze and turned,
Turning and frozen, it thawed
And the heat blazed freely,
A cancer in the souls
Of the poor, simple, lifelike
Golden people. The masses lead easily.
The cancer, a mass of anger,
For those without medicine,
Without a doctor.
Your lies grew great.
You scoffed at the students.
Who were learning to learn.
Scoffed again at those
Without your reckless faith.
Scoffed at me, the poet,
Who knows you, Lucifer, man.
Not a fallen angel but a construct of
Bullies and armies.
Lucifer, you celebrate my bruises,
while I lick my wounds.
Your dreams are follicles of ignorance.
Come for you?
I shall. Burning the way to your truth,
To your service without serving,
Oh Lucifer, you should have died,
At your own lips posturing
I dream truths. Dreamt dreams of truths.
Your violent words are no God’s words.
Your simple outlook, fraud.
A detective would mock you,
Wait for you to try again,
To deceive again.
Then the police shall find your lair,
And if one honest officer
Appears with the truth,
Hold that officer as a hero.
I shall chase your hypocrisy
Around the Circle of Willis
Cleansing as I go.
Your globe a bathtub handle
While my globe holds mystery
Oh, Lucifer of man, your republic of
Small minds will melt from the heat.
Lesser humans will smirk, but the compassionate will
Watch you fill the world with lies.
They will ignore your fallacies, shake their heads and begin
The work of cleaning vegetables
for the poor who hunger.