Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A "needed" break in takling about the election.

Here is a question and my answer to a question posed me two months ago on my Ask Me Anything (AMA) Reddit dialogue system.  I thought it was time to take a break in looking at the election - (I get more and more depressed as I see Trump's numbers rising!)

I've truly been impressed by the thoughtful questions posed me.  I just wish I had more time to answer them more quickly and give more time to giving thoughtful answers - I merely dictate thoughts that come into my head.  

Here's a question that came to me and the answer I gave. I thought others might be interested.

The question: 

Honestly, I've got a thousand questions I'd love to ask you. But, since I'm sure you've got a flood, I'll pick the three I'd love for you to answer. I'm a biology major intending to go into aging research to discover why we age, how we age, and ultimately how we can control the aging process. So, my first question is fairly predictable. If you could live another 90 years (in, say, the health of a 50-year-old), would you? Another 900?
Second, you were an adult in a time when prejudice regarding race, sexuality, and religion were incredibly blatant and really were systemic oppression, fully encoded into US law. A great many older folks (I live in the American South, so my sample size may be skewed) still hold ideologies of decades gone by. Would you say your perceptions of race, sexuality, and religion have changed over the years? You seem very progressive in such areas, so I'd love to hear about how you were back when you were 20-30.
Third, what do you most want to live long enough to see? If there was anything you wanted to happen in your lifetime that you would die happy if you could see, what would it be? Has it already happened, or is it yet to come?

And so my answer:

[–]dcretiree [S1 point just now 
First of all I must say that it's the opportunity to relate to young people that is one of the major factors in my allegedly youthful demeanor and condition. Your questions are quite fascinating and so I'll just ruminate – and probably make mistakes – on my Dragon dictation machine.
  1. Live another 90 years? Not if Trump is elected! I do have trouble with hypotheticals, but I almost feel that nature – plus reasonable medical assistance – has provided an ideal life span – for me at least. Human intelligence has not created proper vehicles – yet at least – for meaningful existence of so many more people to live on this planet.
  2. I to was brought up in the South until I went into the military at age 17 for three years. And while I did not participate in furthering civil rights, "something innate within me" kept me from the blatant racism that was present in San Antonio in the 30s and 40s. I attributed to two things – a. Parents, although they only had a fifth and an eighth grade education, never showed any racial hostility, and b. A liberal mainline church that gave emphasis to the TEACHINGS of Jesus. The one area in which I have changed the most is in the field of gay and lesbian acceptance. As a child my only concept of gay men was that they were predators of boys – and with three aunts who never married but had scores of female friends, I never even knew the term lesbian. Fortunately my life experiences have  changed my attitude completely.
  3. I would die tomorrow with a smile on my face if the nations of the world would support a United Nations organization that would be strong enough to stop war and solve all disputes through arbitration.
Thanks for asking.

PS – for this rant: In rereading this I note that I give short shrift to religion other than emphasizing the importance of the teachings of Jesus. I do not want to minimize how dramatically my perception of religion has changed. While religion is still central in my life, I approach it as an agnostic atheist. I do not believe in the God that was projected to me throughout my formative years, but feel there is some mysterious "force" that attracts ALL peoples to the good. Personally I appreciate and support the good work of "all enlightened religious institutions" but feel that all religions – at least those based on love and peace – have much to offer in the way of instilling constructive life values.

Thus you see the enjoyment I have in sharing thoughts with the thousand or so young people through Reddit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Lessons from the conservative side of Bobby Kennedy!

Some hurried thoughts from a new biography of the life of Robert F. Kennedy

One of the most thrilling things about hearing authors talk about their books is the great insight, knowledge and above all, enthusiasm they bring to their topic. Larry Tye more than exceeded that as he spoke about his book, "Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon".   The elderly audience was, of course, aware of Bobby's enthusiastic support for Joseph McCarthy, one of the all-time most sinister and reviled figures by liberals,  Bobby was not only on his staff in his "shameless " hearings, but he went against his older brother's wishes and attended McCarthy's funeral in 1957 as the only Democrat in attendance.

I was mesmerized by the talk and found some interesting parallels with our present election and the one that Bobby was prevented from entering because of his assassination by Sirhan Sirhan. And while I'm working to soon share my deeply held feelings about the election, I felt a compunction to immediately share some thoughts.
  1. Both the present election and that of 1968 were noteworthy for charismatic figures attractive to varied segments of the population: Eugene McCarthy and Bobby and Donald Trump and Bernie.  
  2. The country was extremely divided and young people were aroused as never before by causes they firmly believed. Certainly this is true again for two groups of the population, the "underclass" that Trump is appealing to and youthful voters who rally to the many causes that are espoused by Bernie.
  3. Humphrey's defeat of McCarthy and the death of Bobby Kennedy silenced many young voters and caused them to be disenchanted with the system.  While protests continued, there was no effort to join with the establishment to counter the reactionary forces that maintained control.
  4. How dramatically Bobby changed from the searing lessons that life thrust upon him. From a father who supported right wing causes and bigotry and McCarthy supporter, he became a champion for racial justice and all important liberal causes. In my personal experience in responding to youth in a series of AMAs, I was appalled more than once to see that my present views were unacceptable because I had once voted (in my innocence) for Richard Nixon. How important it is in looking at candidates or anyone, that we understand the full scope of their life, not just single events or skills.
In many ways I see the election of 1968 as one of the three previous critical elections of my lifetime.  TO ME, HOWEVER, NONE OF THEM EQUALS OUR PRESENT DIVISIVE CONTEST!

As a former history teacher, I truly believe,that we MUST learn from the past.  Tye's book  provides us with that opportunity.
  1.  I sincerely hope that young people will continue their activism and become involved in ALL aspects of the political system and not give up on the democratic system, and
  2. that voters will look beyond flamboyance, fascist calls for law and order and divisive appeals and look at the total trajectory of candidates lives.    I trust they will see the many difficulties Mrs. Clinton has faced (and overcome) in working to make an inclusive village out of our richly diverse American society.
Next week I'll truly try to express my strongest feelings. That one of the most vitriolic undercurrent themes of the Trump campaign is SEXISM!

But recalling Bobby Kennedy and the McCarthy hearings I remembered one of  the most searing statements I have ever heard, the turning point in a divided countries response to McCarthyism, when Army legal counsel, Joe Welch asked of the Senator, "At long last,have you left no sense of decency?"

After some of the statements and position of Donald Trump, I felt like asking the same question.





Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How I wish all America could have joined us……



…… as my college age granddaughter and I worshiped at a Muslim mosque.

Several months ago as the virulent anti-Muslim voices became even more pronounced throughout our country, I felt compelled to do something in support of those of the Islamic faith. Knowing that the Christian church I attend provides space each Friday for Muslim prayers, I felt that the least I could do would be to welcome these worshipers. As I stood outside the door to welcome them and was joined by a few young people, I could almost feel the apprehension of those men and women who were arriving. Upon noting that we were a "friendly mob," my heart was warmed by the exchange of greeting - not a handshake - but drawing each other into friendship by touching our own hearts.

As we continued to do this for several weeks, we invited the worshipers to share food and drink several times after their prayers. Several months now have passed and our friendship has waned somewhat because of summer schedules. How tragic, however, that the forces that divide us have continued unabated. Thus I thought I would not only greet the worshipers again, but also see if we could join in worship.

How I wish all Americans could've accompanied us! How very warmly we were welcomed.  Fellow human beings of all hues taking time from their noon lunch or work on Friday afternoon sharing a time of prayer. Young and old, men and a few women, well-dressed professionals, workers in overalls and cab drivers prostrated themselves towards the origin of their belief. My granddaughter with me in the rear of the room held the leash of the seeing-eye dog of the speaker, a trial attorney with the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. In a message of love, forgiveness and reconciliation, as he made equal reference to God and Allah, his sermon equaled any I have heard in a lifetime of attending Christian services.


We could feel the dedication and commitment to love in the room through the silence of worshipers in their prone position, I felt a oneness with all humankind as I bowed my head in joint meditation with them.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Something to really rave about at ninety!

I truly never thought I would live to see it! How much America has changed since I first left the womb in 1925!  REGARDLESS of any political affiliation, it was truly a miracle for me to hear the eloquence of an African American who has been president of OUR country for eight years speak on behalf of a woman who has been nominated to be president of our country.

It has been my privilege to volunteer for the past 7 1/2 years at the White House Visitors Center welcoming people coming to the White House expressing pride and interest in our country. I HAVE BEEN OVERWHELMED by the number of African Americans - from individuals to proud large family reunions - eager to enter the WHITE House where someone of their race is head of the house and the country.  

How remarkable now that I might also live to see a woman become president!  IT WAS BUT FIVE YEARS BEFORE I WAS BORN that a woman could even vote in a presidential election.

Whatever happens in this election, I have to remain confident that my country is continuing on the path of truly becoming exceptional in ways never before seen in this world.   

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Thoughts that come to me in the night!

Here's perhaps the best way to put the last year in perspective:
Thank you, Donald, you have made your point. Now go back to your sandbox. And let Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Kaine continue their lifelong commitment of working to solve the problems of the world. for ALL of us,

Sunday, July 3, 2016

It's too hot to rant and rave, but

I just HAD to do it!  I couldn't keep silent all summer.  While they aren't "earthshaking," a couple of items came to my attention this week that I just HAD to "have my say" on.  Any reaction?

About political correctness:

What a joy this morning in church to sing the stirring, patriotic hymn composed in 1882 by Samuel Augustus Ward, "Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies".

Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain. 
for purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee, 
and crown like good with *brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
*Or "servanthood."

I first want to admit that I am an agnostic, atheistic Christian! But a vital portion of my life at 90 continues to be attending my various churches. And the hymns for me are a lusty and beloved part of the weekly experience. But how can I be expected to praise the "servanthood" that is listed as an alternative singing?  Something that so beleaguered so many of my fellow Americans for so many years as a blot upon our nations conscience.  Think how the rhythm of the tune would be destroyed were we to put all the various sexual references into the rendition.  Can't we sometime just sit back and enjoy a tradition for what it is?

 About leaders::

How very fascinating to have The Washington Post this week on the front page of the Style Section include in a lengthy article on my boyhood hero, Charles A. Lindbergh! Of course many of the younger generation are not aware of the exploits of this national, worldwide hero who was the first to cross the Atlantic alone in his simple aircraft, "The Spirit of St. Louis". Honored by President Hoover at the White House, he was showered by events in our country and lionized throughout the world. And today I prize the two-sided ancient phonograph record that was the hit of the day and was a part of our family collection.   In order to get a feel for how great was the adulation, I'd like to recommend that you take a few minutes during this holiday week to listen to

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9U7SAOovBY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q54VvSVk7f4


But what a lesson on how gullible we can be in selecting our heroes.  History has not been kind to him as it has divulged the full life story of this man:
  • his blindness in eulogizing  Adolf Hitler before World War II
  • his Antisemitism, and
  • his betrayal of his wife, distinguished poet Annie Morrow Lindbergh, as a bigamist maintaining a family in both the United States and Germany.
I truly believe that the choice facing us in the presidential election this year is more critical than any I have participated in during my 90 years.  While my generation - and previous ones - made grievous mistakes and tolerated heinous atrocities through the years, I truly believe the "Arc of Justice" has maintained a positive direction.   I was thrilled to see the commitment of so many to a candidate "promising" to enlist more voters seeking to hasten change.  I trust they will not be led now by a candidate whose only plan is built around empty promises and whose entire life's work has shown a disdain for  values I hold dear.  And while the other candidate may have made errors of judgment, I perceive a lifelong commitment to all those values I find commendable.  Dropping out now in disappointment would negate years and years of arduous progress.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

I couldn't help it - I just had to Rave!

And I did so on two new venues: Amazon Books evaluation and Reddit's religion page on the Internet. I felt so strongly about Corinna Nicolaou's book, "A None's Story: Searching for Meaning Inside Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, & Islam" that I wanted to do everything I could to stir up interest, and, hopefully conversation. I'm only publicizing this through family and Facebook, so I am counting on you to spread the word. This is what I said:

As she approaches middle-age, Corinna Nicolaou, who has NEVER been exposed to ANY religious doctrine, wonders if she has missed anything in life by never being a part of a faith community . The reader accompanies her on her four-year odyssey from coast-to-coast exploring Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam both as an academic exercise and as a participant as a sincere neophyte. With humor and sympathy, she participates in the practices of a variety of sects of each religion not only at formal services but with nascent friends. As a nonagenarian who has also taken a rather unique course in assessing religion myself, I highly recommend it for any young person who seriously contemplates religion, spirituality and the questions of existentialism. The chapter on Islam alone – particularly as she practices that faith in an unusual setting – is particularly poignant. And her conclusion provides a thoughtful coda to her study.
I personally chanced upon her presentation at a local bookstore and HAD to buy the book! I found the book as compelling as her delightful presentation.  How remarkable that Columbia University Press saw fit to publish a "first book" by an unknown author.who gives such thoughtful consideration to one of the most important topics of the day.

But in addition to the review, I want to add for my personal viewers:

I do think her "assessment of religion" lacks one thing, what the WORLD misses by HER not being a part of a faith community.  I truly believe that this is one of the Hallmarks of our American democracy, the citizen groups, agencies, etc. that work voluntarily for progress in our society.  Alexis de Tocqueville cited this in the early days of our republic and it has been a strength throughout the years,  Yet most all such agencies are in serious decline today - and I think it is clear that faith groups have played a major role in bringing social progress.  Thus the two books of Robert Putnam, "Bowling Alone" and "Our Kids" would be companion reads for anyone seriously looking to help our country overcome the problems and division we face today.

And now it is off to NYC, Santa Fe and Michigan during the next four weeks.

Ron