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Posts Tagged ‘prejudice’

Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have in steering others. (Jacob M. Braude)

I have no idea how much my husband and I spent trying to save the blue spruce in our front yard. A service came regularly with botanical anti-fungal treatment until the cost of the treatment could have paid for the creation of a national park.

Needles turned brown and fell from branch to branch to ground. Huge gaps appeared as limbs died and were severed. The birds no longer had a place to hide and send out their morning songs.

The tree couldn’t maintain its status anymore. The sapling had been planted for our first son. He is now an adult, married with two daughters. The spruce had become part of our home and its past. Part of our sons’ history.

When asked which house we lived in, the answer came easily. “The one with the tree that is the front yard.”

I can’t control the life of a tree, the decisions of another person, or the whims of Mother Nature. Directing me is difficult enough. What I desire for the whole doesn’t happen by wishing, demanding, or sacrificing more than this old body has.

Hatred. Prejudice. The notion of us versus them. If only I could uproot these creature killers. Tear up the roots. Open eyes to see hearts, not superficial differences.

Peace. Planted one kind seed at a time. Without judgment. I pray that I can say to the angry, No, I don’t believe some people are better than others. But, since you also happen to be human, you are deserving of love. Now.

No, I can’t forgive with ease. Not yet. Still working on it.

Trees don’t reappear from stumps. Nevertheless, fresh planting creates possibilities. May good-will seeds create hope.

 

 

 

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Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.
(Erich Fromm)

Human animals think too much—without questioning the truth of their source. Unfortunately, we upright-moving creatures are born with ego and an overdose of certainty, based on experience in a tiny section of the world.

I wrote this poem more years ago than I recall. My granddaughter was a toddler. She is now in fifth grade. A ballerina. Grade-A student, She also happens to be significantly taller than I am.

These verses are based on an incident that occurred at the Museum Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. My beautiful girl may have grown up, but she chooses her friends based upon inner qualities, not incidental skin tone. I am proud of who she has grown to be.

Naked Baby Dolls

 

Child-proof dolls

with painted black hair

and eyes forever open

 

lie on the floor

of the toddler room.

Figures identical, except for

 

brown or peach plastic bodies,

the dolls are naked.

The children don’t care.

 

Bare babies and honesty

fit the simple ambience

of parallel play.

 

I watch as each doll

passes from child to floor,

and back again. The brown babies

 

get picked first.

My toddler granddaughter pouts

as another child grabs

 

the dark doll she had been cuddling.

I try to hand her the paler version.

Her frown deepens. On the rug

 

the dolls that wait

look anemic, pale.

I think about human skin shades

 

from ivory to licorice, and mentally

list a larger number of darker tones.

Nutmeg, cinnamon, chestnut, bronze

 

chocolate, mahogany, coffee, umber.

Strange that at this age

the little people choose the toy

 

with the richer complexion.

Yet only a few of the children

resemble darker hues. The toddlers’ choices

 

contradict the prejudiced

adult majority. Someday I pray

these children see beyond the exterior.

 

The dolls wear a paint layer

thin enough to be chipped off.

Their differences can be altered with a brush stroke.

 

People share diverse histories

and cultures, but living hearts beat

a common rhythm.

 

May we grow

together

as one human race.

 

(This poem has been published in the anthology, FOR A BETTER WORLD and in the online magazine PIKER PRESS.)

 

 

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A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind. (John Neal)

I meet every Tuesday morning with a spiritual group I joined when my older son was a toddler. The subject of hope keeps bouncing to the surface. I could use it.

Watch the news for more than five minutes, and the desire to remain on the couch indefinitely becomes tempting.

Deportation of innocent young people, hurricanes, earthquakes, the exploitation of personal tragedy, hate and greed take over the screen. 

As my friends and I talk about love that reaches deeper than the average Valentine card, I lift my socks-covered feet onto the coffee table. A deep purple bruise has taken over my right foot.

I knocked a few books off the shelf and gravity won. The foot swelling will heal. In comparison to the grief I see around me, this pain is a pinprick. The difficulties we explore are stab wounds.

However, my friend gives me an icepack. Love wrapped in a maroon towel. A symbol of hope. My friends share both encouragement and experience. Not lofty, disjointed everything-will-be-okay platitudes.

I share a short video. A Canadian politician is hassled by someone who confuses Sikhism for Islam. Clarification between the two groups is less important than the interruption centered in hate. Resolution comes through the leader’s call to peace. I hope the welcome greeting eventually touches the angry woman. Prejudice is heavy armor; it restricts movement and disables the heart. Hate armor takes time to build and time to remove.

The video can be found at this link: Sikh Politician Gets Verbally Attacked and Handles Gracefully.

In our small Tuesday group, we pause to check our responses. What preconceived notions do we hold? What views are opinions, taught, not experienced? And not true.

Kites fly through gentle wind; their fabric fails during turbulence. I choose where to fly a metaphorical kite, and where to call for reinforcements.

In the meantime, my foot loses some of its discomfort under the ice. I can decide to pass along kindness with the examples of my friends—or, I can add to the turbulence with discontent.

Peace. Upon all. Whether our political views coincide. Or not.

In the meantime, I will fly into Europe and meet other people. And see other ways of knowing life. Hopefully, I will come back with fresh perspective. And just a little more understanding.

photo-shopped public domain pic

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Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. (Lorraine Hansberry)

Think. Not over-think, worry’s first cousin.

I’m on my way to an exercise class. The class is my chance to kick, run, jump into a V-step or Charleston left, then right—all in my own clumsy timing. I’m definitely back-row inept. So what if the person in front of me is five foot eleven and I need higher heels to hit the five-foot mark. At least I won’t confuse anyone behind me.

Traffic is light for a Friday morning. I sit, drive, and take in the moment as my ’97 Toyota follows the familiar route.

The sky is blue, clear. And I breathe in and out slowly with the hope that my spirit can find similar clarity. A bird crosses the road. Too low. It almost hits my windshield. I’m reminded of the sparrow that lay dead in our driveway yesterday. I’ve seen too much loss lately. Large and small. I realize I can’t discover the beauty of each moment when I’m running on high speed in multiple directions.

My unwritten chore list is long. Again. I am hosting a friend’s birthday party this weekend. My office is also my grandchildren’s play area. The carpet is filled with tiny pieces of paper, remnants of kid art, what my mother called snibbles. Actually, I never heard the word anywhere else. So I asked my brother Bill if he knew anything about the word.

He speaks fluent German, and years ago, before we both had kids, he beat me at Scrabble. Regularly. I saved the score sheets and averaged the points. He was three points a word more proficient. But did he gloat? Heavens, no. We played cooperative games to see how many points we could gather together. Well over 700. That board grew with diverse, well-connected words and designs. Now Bill works to recognize people, not politics. The people of Palestine. Persons. Individuals. Not a lumped nameless mass.

This is where my thinking leads me now: I am proud of my younger brother.

He found snibbles in the Urban Dictionary. My bro, both intelligent and resourceful. And the sunshine outside seeps inside me just a little bit more.

In the meantime, daffodils are beginning to bloom. Grass pushes up green blades from thawed earth. The goldfinch has started to display his warm-weather feathers.

Beginnings. Each moment. As I sit. In the car. Or on the porch. As I stand. In the line at the grocery. Waiting. Anywhere. During celebrations and during painful times. Think, Terry, with expectant awareness. And live in the now. The naysayers will come. Ready to criticize another for hair or skin color, race, intelligence, or immigrant status. Ready to separate us from them, to say one group is more human than another.

But, you can’t be knocked over by hate, Terry, because you are caught off-guard in your own trivial considerations. One more time. Catch the beauty. Know it is real. Gain strength. Opinions change. Truth does not. Think. Think. Think…

bluebird and rainbow

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