Tag Archives: America

Let Us Grieve

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”
– Bryant H. McGill

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So, here’s the thing. I have a little favor to ask of you, my fellow Americans. It’s not much. Just a tiny little thing you might be able to do for me.

STOP MINIMIZING OTHER PEOPLE’S FEELINGS.

Okay?

Seriously, y’all. Stop it.  Now.

What does that mean? you ask.  “Minimizing other people’s feelings?” Valid question. So here, let me give you a few examples:

“Stop whining.”

“It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Calm down.”

“Get over it.”

If I had a dollar for every variation of those I’ve seen in the past 24 hours, I’d have enough money to advance to the presidency myself.

Here’s the deal. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, okay? Ready?

We don’t give a shit who the president of the United States is.

Yup, there it is. I said it.

Is that not very patriotic of me? Eh, maybe not. But it’s the friggin truth. Are we going to be inviting him over for dinner? Is he going to be babysitting our kids? Giving us marriage advice?  Exchanging presents with us on Christmas Eve?

No. He is nothing to us.

WE DON’T CARE.

But here’s what we do care about.

How the rhetoric and example of the person in the highest, utmost position of honor in our country is going to trickle down to the people we are around every day.

Think it doesn’t really matter?

Think again.

Yesterday, kids all over America asked to stay home from school. I know, because mine was one of them. Were they overreacting? Making a big deal out of nothing?  I don’t know. You tell me.

“I turned out the lights on my third graders at 7:38. They come in my room at 7:35. They were arguing about the election within minutes of walking in my room. I turned out the lights and told them that the election was not going to change how we treated each other and we would not be discussing it. They are eight years old. My class doesn’t fight. They were yelling at each other. If kids are acting this way, how far will adults go?”

These are the words from a THIRD GRADE teacher in our small, rural town in North Carolina today.

Third graders.

A facebook status from a concerned friend of adoptive parents:

“So, I’ve been holding this in all day but would like to share it with you now. A friend of mine and his wife have an adopted son from Central America. He came home scared and confused from school yesterday and said that some kid told him that if Trump wins the election then would be sent back to Mexico. My friends had not discussed Trumps policies with their son so this idea was coming straight from others. Connect the dots. This is simple and basic and real. It’s not some media pundit taking up air time. This is our America and it pisses me off. If you think this a problem in our society and would like to discuss how we can fix it then I welcome your thoughts. If you don’t recognize this as a problem then you are part of the problem…”

Again. Right here in Nowhere, North Carolina.

Or better yet.  Here.  How about this one?

“’Yes, sweet boy, God loves you. I love you too.”’

A co-worker whispered these words in answer to a sobbing student today. A student who was born in America, just like my girls. A student who takes care of his siblings and takes on more responsibility on his shoulders than my girls have ever known.

This student walked into his school today to taunting, “You’re going to be sent back to Mexico.” He buried his scared, hurt face in his teacher’s shoulder, and we found a safe place for him to cry. Through my own tears I said, “Find the good people to hang out with today. There is bad, but there are always good people.” And I prayed in my heart, please God, keep letting the good show up.”

That was a middle-school teacher in our same little rural town.

“Please God, keep letting the good show up.”

We are in the middle of nowhere, people. Obama, Trump, Hillary…those people are never going to step foot in this little town that is so far off of an interstate we barely know how to tell people to get to one. We don’t care which one of them is sitting in the oval office at any given time. We really don’t.

THIS is what we care about.

Each other.

If you think this election doesn’t affect every single person walking across this land we call home, you are sadly mistaken. If you are one that can just shrug it off and go about your business and not let it affect you – hallelujah. Good for you. I’d trade places with you in a heartbeat.

But I’m not.

These parents aren’t.

These teachers aren’t.

These students aren’t.

We are in pain, people. Our country is broken. Our hearts are broken. For lack of a more eloquent term, we are treating each other like shit.

And that hurts.

Some of us cry. Some of us rage. Some of us become smartasses. Some of us hide, some of us fight. We all have different ways of dealing with our emotions, but the underlying emotion remains the same.

Fear.

We are scared. We are petrified. We don’t know what is happening to us because most of us haven’t lived through something like this. This is new to us. Those of us under a certain age don’t remember segregation. Stories of the Holocaust are just stories in a history book. Same with stories of the misplaced Indians (well, unless you’re paying attention to the non-front-page headlines these days). We read those stories and we try to empathize but we weren’t there. We don’t understand it.

But when we see a little Mexican boy crying because his peers are telling him he’s going to be deported to a country he has never even seen?

Yeah. Suddenly, it’s real. We feel that.

If you don’t feel it, if you don’t have to experience it, if you’re not around the people who are acting like this – good for you. Really, good for you. I’m happy for you. I hope the rest of the world catches up to the utopia you’re surrounded by.

But for the rest of us out here?

This is very real.

We are hurting. We are scared.

And we deserve your respect.

americacry

American Minority

I am ashamed.
I look around my people and behold
Multitudes atop their thrones of privilege;
Masses upon their domains of ease,
Of abundance,
Of ignorance.

I am disheartened.
I witness displays of false compassion
(That extend no further than locked front doors.)
I glimpse wealth and comforts reserved
For only those of like complexion,
Like proximity,
Like beliefs.

I am troubled.
I observe hardships beyond our borders,
Anguish which my privileged land knows not.
Guilt consumes me as the truth seeps in:
These are my people.
Am I one of them?

I am lost.
Lost in an ocean of animosity;
Drowning in a sea of indifference.
(One shaky, quiet voice amidst hordes of hostility.)
Am I just a whisper?
Can anyone hear me?

Coke

“The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety.”
–  Felix Mendelssohn

Ok.  So, unless you’ve been living under a rock since the Super Bowl aired, I’m guessing you’ve probably heard about the backlash that Coke has received for its ‘controversial’ ad aired during the game.  Didn’t see the commercial?  Well, here ya go.  Take a look:

I know I’m not going to say anything new with this blog.  Anything I have to say about my opinion on this matter has probably been said by many others.  And that’s fine.  But I still think it’s important for my voice to be heard, even amid all the others.  As Plato is quoted as saying: “Your silence gives consent.”  Well, that’s not going to happen for this girl.  I’m going to say what I have to say about the matter, and then move on.

What is the ‘controversy’ you ask?  Well, obviously, we see a video filled with people of differing nationalities, ethnicities, etc. singing America the Beautiful.  And some of our fellow Americans are saying that this is *ahhem* “un-American.”

So, first of all, I suppose I should say that I shouldn’t be surprised.  Hardly anything can happen these days without some type of controversy surrounding it, especially when it involves differences among fellow human beings (*gasp!* Heaven forbid!).  But even though I readily agree that I shouldn’t be surprised, I still have to admit that I am.  Seriously, people?  We’re still at this point?

For God’s sake, what is it going to take??

Let me ask you to do something.  Look to your left.  Now, look to your right.  And I want you to tell me what you see.  Do you see someone who looks exactly like you?  Someone who wears their hair the same way, has the same family background that you do, the same job, the same amount of money in their bank account?  Do you see someone who has the same number of children you do (or lack thereof), the same eye color, the exact same skin tone?  Does that person share your religion?  Is every single thing about them exactly the same as you?

Duh.  I’m guessing probably not.  And you know why that is?  BECAUSE WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT.  That’s just all there is to it.  We are not a world made up of robots.  The differences are wide and numerous and there’s no way I could sit here and list them all.  But here’s the thing: just because something is different, that doesn’t make it wrong.  Why is that so hard to understand for some people?

What gives anyone…anyone…the right to decide which differences are ok, and which ones aren’t?   So, the person to your left came from a lower class neighborhood than you did, and that’s ok.  But their first language isn’t English, and that’s not ok?  Which background differences are ones you’ll accept and which ones aren’t?  Aren’t you kind of playing God there, my friend?

And back to Coke.  First of all, every single one of the people in their ad was an American.  They said so.  They didn’t go to other countries to film this.  They didn’t bring people from other countries in to sing about our great nation.  No, they chose Americans.  Our friends and neighbors that make up our diverse land.  And they tried to show you the beauty that exists in that.  And why are we surprised that they did this?  One of the most memorable ads from my childhood is the one that Coke did in the 70s using the song, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.”  Remember that one?

Here’s a portion of the lyrics:

I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.
I’d like to hold it in my arms, and keep it company
I’d like to see the world for once all standing hand in hand.
And hear them echo through the hills for peace throughout the land.

Man. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Coke has always stuck to the theme that America is beautiful.  And it’s the diversity that makes it so.  We are supposed to pride ourselves in our acceptance of every walk of life.  Of not forcing one religion or one life path onto the millions of people who grace our land.  [Take a look at some of the other third world countries for a second if you’ve forgotten how blessed you are to live here.]  So, with the controversy that has sprung from this one commercial, what are we telling other countries?  What message are we sending to them?  And even more importantly, what message are we sending to ourselves?  To our children?

Again, like I said, I’m not saying anything that I’m sure hasn’t already been said.  I’m not changing the world and I’m most likely not changing any minds.  Unfortunately, when I type the last word on this blog and click ‘publish,’ the world will continue on as it was before…there will still be hatred, bigotry, exclusion, and hypocrisy.  I simply cannot change that.

But you know what else is going to happen after I click ‘publish’?

I am going to wrap up my work day, and then I’m headed to pick up the biggest variety of kids you’ve ever seen. Boys, girls, scholars, goofballs, white, black, geeks, jocks…you name it, I’m getting them.  And I’m transporting them all to my house for my daughter’s 14th birthday party sleepover.  We are going to eat pizza and cupcakes and watch movies and laugh until late into the night.  We’re going to sing Happy Birthday at midnight to my baby as she turns 14 (in whatever language the kids want to sing it in).  For this one night among all of the others, we are all going to come together for one purpose – to have fun celebrating a unique, talented, open-minded little teenager’s birthday.  And then tomorrow, we’re all going to go back to our separate lives.  Our separate family units, our separate religions, our separate homes.

No, I cannot change the world.  I know that.  But tomorrow as I say goodbye to this wide variety of my daughter’s friends as they return to their varied lives, I can bask in the glow of knowing that I have impacted and influenced one small part of the world.  I have raised a beautiful daughter who knows no bounds in the love she feels for those around her.  There are no exclusions when it comes to being her friend.  The more different you are, so much the better.  I have a raised a daughter that knows to look beyond outward differences, and dig a little deeper to see the heart that lies inside.

For this, I am proud.  And for this, I will continue to voice my stance on the importance of unity amid diversity.  Because I know, in the deepest part of my being, that at least one person is listening.

kelcollage

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“Even if unity of faith is not possible, a unity of love is.”
– Hans Urs von Balthasar