This New America and Other Random Thoughts

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When your child’s school leaves a recorded voice message, offering counseling sessions and use of their Office of Human Relations and Equity to support meaningful conversations and concerns that you or your child may have, following a presidential election, you know that this is not normal.
When the district superintendent follows up with yet another message, soliciting your help to encourage your child to use assemblies, classroom dialogues, and open-mic activities to address their frustrations, because the district is concerned about the uptake student rebellion, falling grades, lawlessness, and walk-outs on campus, after the same presidential election, again,  not normal.

When you have to wear an unflattering safety pin on your collar or put up a hideous poster of one in your office or business to show your solidarity with millions of people who are terrified of racist and anti-Semitic abuse, and vandalism, which is occurring at alarming rates, after the same presidential election, you know this is a new America.
The safety pin symbol inspired by Syndey’s 2014 #illridewithyou movement following the Islamophobic backlash after a terrorist attack and adopted by Brits in the wake of the BREXIT against xenophobic abuse, has finally arrived in the United States of America. In USA Today, experts report that post-election spate of hate crimes is worse than post-9/11.

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We now live in a country where post-election, people can fly the confederate flag on their cars. People can boldly blandish the swastika – a sacred symbol used in Neolithic Eurasia, Eastern Religions, and Europe for good luck and well-being – until Schliemann 1920’s volkisch movement adopted it as a symbol of “Aryan identity” and German nationalist pride.
This election was about American nationalist pride (for a country founded by immigrants, who displaced the native Indians, that’s an oxymoron). It was also about the economy and pocketbook issues. On both fronts, the more stable and reasonable candidate, Hillary Clinton won the people’s heart and confidence a.k.a the popular vote by a margin of over two million and counting; but lost the electoral college vote.

These last few weeks has seen passionate anti-Trump demonstrations in over thirty-seven states. I get the frustration. How can the country reward a man with questionable morals, twitter-happy fingers, checkered business practices, and pending court cases with the highest honor and office of the land? A man so uninformed, inexperienced, unprepared and undisciplined that over sixty percent of the voters agreed that he was not qualified to be commander-in-chief.

Our children are decrying this choice that the ‘adults’ have made. It’s not fair to ask them to accept that Donald Trump can break all the rules of decency and decorum when he shattered accepted norms like transparency, facts, and tolerance. That he who became the crusader for propaganda and deplorable views can now wield enormous power over the nation. Our kids are asking, “Why should we bother to do right, be kind and do homework?”

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As a parent, I could not find the right answers. Instead, I offer a few thoughts:

  • Life is not fair. Sometimes we do not get what we deserve. Other times, grace gives us what we have not earned.
  • Christians call God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Remember Jacob? He was known as the heel-grabber, deceiver, cheat, swindler, schemer, and usurper) Even after Jacob’s name was changed to Israel which means prince, God still preferred the former name. Maybe because as a fantasist, Jacob had ideas and desires that were outside the norm. He was a passionate change agent. It’s the what,  not the who.
  • To settle the *rancor between his disciples, when Peter asked. “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus answered,”…what is that to you? You follow me.” Our focus after this election returns to evaluating our lives, keeping our hope on the Lord who rules in the affairs of men and has a broader perspective.
  • Stock up on emergency supplies. In a climate of unrest and discord, be prepared in case of a lock-down.
  • Donald Trump has four years to prove the skeptics wrong. If he takes the oath of office and fails to be the president that American needs, it will be a rough four years because people are committed to holding him accountable to the ideals of the office of the President.
  • Get involved in the political process. Talk to those with opposing views.
  • Pray. Pray for Donald, our leaders, and the victors. Pray comfort for Hillary and those who are broken-hearted and scared. Pray for wisdom, hope, and healing.

This situation is not normal. Our children, friends, and neighbors demonstrating for over a week, is not the usual aftermath of a presidential election. The bitter, tart tone of the past election season is responsible for this new America, but we’ll move forward if we all do our part.

May God bless the United States of America and All of us.

Photo Credits: Pixabay Images and amadanesi.com
*John 21:20-23

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The Art of Tart

The Art of Tart

 

Tart – severe, sharp, biting, acrimonious. This year so far has been one for taking life’s lemons and making some very pricey lemonade. Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s alleged Betty-with-the-good-hair problem has given them millions of dollars; Gwen Stefani has made us like Blake Shelton again and my favorite yogurt, Liberté has gone organic.

You know you’ve got something special when breakfast inspires a blog post via a lemon haiku on the foil cover like mine did. The Kaporovsky family emigrated from Russia and founded Liberté in 1936. They opened their first factory in Montreal, Canada, on the corner of Rue Saint-Urbain and Avenue Duluth Ouest.

Inspired by the Statue of Liberty, they named their small, kosher dairy farm, “Liberty”. Even though the name was changed to appeal to their French-speaking Quebec customers, it still captures that original spirit of hope and freedom.
The company today has crossed the borders into America and sells various artisan dairy products nationwide, but their dream is even bigger – one of their employees circulated a petition declaring that the first yogurt eaten on Mars would be Liberté.*

Hope and freedom – wouldn’t we like to see some of that expounded upon instead of the recent rancorous and vitriolic nature of our politics. Trump’s campaign has made the art of tart, a core strategy – their conspiracy theories and scattered-brain policies help no-one focus on our grave and pressing issues. Immigration is not the pressing issue, the modified refrain from Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign strategist,  James Carville, “It’s the economy, stupid” should be ringing in our heads. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s campaign dogged by the need to engage in so much defensive posturing would like America to fall into amnesia about some aspects of her long career in advocacy and politics.

Who will America choose come November? A woman scarred by years of fighting, sometimes unfairly, in the arena vs. a man who is most known for his avarice, and who has spurred and elevated the underground fringes of the far-right to the podium.
And what will our choice say of us?
Speaking of options, if you haven’t tried my favorite Liberté – lemon-flavored yogurt, you haven’t lived – not fully at least.

Ah… Liberty!

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Image Credits:
Pixabay
Susan Watts/NY Daily News
* http://www.liberteusa.com
 

When Magic is All Too Real and in Your Face.

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Magic happened in this year’s BET awards and it wasn’t in Beyoncé’s surprise performance or the beautiful tributes to the late Prince and Mohammed Ali. Magic happened when the bold and unapologetic face of activism, with blazing light-eyes showed up in Jesse William’s speech while accepting his Humanitarian Award.

The Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) actor who plays Dr. Jackson Avery graduated from Temple University with a double major in African American Studies and Film and Media Arts, he taught public school for six years and is a board member of Advancement Project. He was an executive producer of Question Bridge: Black Males and Stay Woke, a documentary that traced the genesis of the revolution movement,  better known as Black Lives Matter.

 

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His speech woke everything up in me and I realized why I have been so silent in the past few months…it hurts too much to be cute, superficial and entertaining.
I could either vent or stay silent and not ruffle our well-coiffed sensibilities in the face of the constant barrage of everything evil to our humanity. Instead of speaking, standing or sitting-in, it was easier for me to remain numb and impotent, secretly abhorring the rash of hatred that has triggered senseless murders and mass killings all over the world.

Somehow till it affects our neck of the woods, we are content to watch others be killed every day, being slaughtered like sheep. Sometimes even in the name of God.(Rms. 8:36)

Jesse Williams paid homage to the unsung heroes in the crusade against systemic racism: “The black women who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves.” He added, “We can and will do better for you”

While the honoree called for fairness in policing, he decried the extrajudicial killing of black people, invoking the memory of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and Rekia Boyd, among others. I say let’s go further. Let’s stand for a return to love and acceptance for those of a different color, lifestyle or creed. None of us is qualified to judge another.

Here is an excerpt of Jesse’s speech but really, you want to watch the entire clip. (And you’re welcome)

“We’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness, uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment… ghetto-lyzing and demeaning our creations, then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is — just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”

Jesse Williams Speech

Ah, Magic! It’s in our glossy sienna skin, fiery eyes and golden smiles. We need reminders lest we forget that we matter and all this is real.

The Aftermath – What Remains?

 

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Credit: Pixabay

The shaking is intended for certain heartbreak and our fainting.

How do we deal with the aftermath?  The consequences of a significant unpleasant event lingers like a bitter aftertaste. It is the rumble left behind when our foundations are jolted out of alignment by an unexpected earthquake. It is when embedded chains even invisible to us are brought into full focus and we have to deal with our new reality. Are we going to stay bound or break free from false foundations? Anything that can be shaken should not have been trusted in the first place.

I would not confuse
the bogus
with the spurious.
The bogus
is a sore thumb
while the spurious
pours forth
as fish and circuses.  (An excerpt from Spurious by Rae Armantrout.)

We hold fast to wrong  foundations as the definition of our core identity till a slip-up exposes the hollow circuses  we’ve allowed to define and be responsible for our happiness. I held on to the love of a certain boy long ago, whose lopsided smile took my breath away till fishes and circuses rained on my parade. It was a fantasy interrupted by a rude rap on my door.

Who goes there?

Rain.

I’ve been a Californian for so long –  I don’t know how to behave in the presence of rain.
Especially a torrent propelling me down fury’s road of liquid drama featuring three deranged and frazzled people needing Dr. Phil’s intervention. Metaphors are always adept in helping me manage painful realities. I closed my eyes and refused to see rain – messy, distressing and unwelcome.

Marriage, friendships, job or career, beauty or charm, money, wealth, sexual orientation or even race, make pretty wobbly foundations.  I’m not sure race should even make the list but in the context of self-worth for some pathetic folks, it is an over-aching standard.

Still I refuse to give up on family and children – pain and joy comes with the territory and privilege of loving and being loved by others. I found out through my experience that only faith can withstand the tremors and earthquakes.  Faith is what remains. God is able to turn what was intended for our unravelling for some sort of good – like stripping us from clutches, laying a new foundation of greater faith and exposing our false gods.

“When you connect your purpose to your perspective, nobody else holds your keys.” Pastor  Steven Furtick 

The venom of anger and hate would only serve to shackle my future to my past. Praise is the only tool powerful enough to break every chain. Indeed life is so much more than these disappointments that now loom so large but in a few years will be so insignificant when compared to God’s greater vision for our lives.
May each aftermath find you and me standing in faith, with hands raised so high the chains are broken. There is only One worthy of our trust because He will always be faithful in His love for us.

Peace to all our broken pieces.

 

A Part of Me has Died

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The Scar Head Sculpture from the Balearic Islands of the Mediterranean, Spain. (Mallorca Monuments)

We ask a lot of questions, we humans. This gift of speech and language can sometimes seem like a curse. We transitioned seamlessly at the age of two from sweet innocent babies to obnoxious toddlers – if you ask me that’s why it is called the terrible twos. The unending quest for answers to everything rages on like a California forest fire.

Why? Why? The annoying, nagging questions that can drive you up the wall as a parent, surely irks God. Instead we should be asking, How? As in, how can this set of circumstances work out for my good?  Or What?  As in, what can I do now? Why is the proverbial split milk, the water under the bridge, the shattered glass on the kitchen floor. As humans, we desperately want our scars understood. MercyMe‘s song, The Hurt and the Healer, reminds us that “Healing doesn’t come from the explained.”

Nobody asks why something good happens, when it does. Like Julie Andrews in the classic movie, The Sound of Music, we are quick to assume that the grand old universe is paying us back because we “must have done something good.” I’d like to know how the nineteen year old boy in Chino Hills, CA who bought ONE lottery ticket deserves the huge chunk of the recent $1.5 billion dollars jackpot. King Solomon, the wisest and richest man who ever lived said, “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.”*

There’s little gain in wallowing in pain, till tears carve a permanent groove on our faces. There’s only One who’s there during the dark nights of the soul, who comforts us during the winters of the heart. If we believe He is with us, we will not ask dead-end questions. God never promised that we would never NOT feel His presence – but that He will never leave nor forsake us. For sure He is real, His promise is sure even when we’re deep in a spiritual gloom. When He feels distant, we are simply being weaned of our emotional dependencies.

What makes a difference is reminding ourselves of His promises because they have not changed and neither has God, not one iota. This is maturity – the ability to discern the difference between God’s omnipresence and the manifestation of that presence in the midst of suffering. My new prayer has become, “Lord, find Your glory even here.” That whiny toddler in me has died.

 

Image Credit – PixCove . *Eccl.9:11