All Lives Matter

My fingers kept typing like it was a Ouija board so forgive the ramblings. Hope you can follow the thread of this.

I keep seeing these postings on Facebook.

The ones that state, “Where’s the outrage now? A white policeman is dead and there will be no looting and rioting in the streets. Because everyone knows that a deranged shooter alone is responsible for it and no one is blaming his race.”

What are they really saying? Are they saying that white people are more civilized and discerning? That it’s just bad odds that black men are the ones being shot or hurt by white police?

Ironically, these are usually the same people that want to blame every single Muslim (not a race but a religion) in the world when someone with an Islamic sounding and/or Arabic surname commits a murder or an act of terrorism. And wants you to get worked up about Sharia Law that could possibly be embraced by our very own Muslim president. 

Or blame every Mexican (a race) immigrant for crimes committed in Texas and California by those who share their heritage. Let’s send them all back and build a wall. 

Here’s another posting. “Thank you, police officers. There are still people out there that support you.”

The insinuation is that the police does not have the support of the people. Or that folks aren’t allowed to be angry at past injustice. You’re considered almost un-American if you question this authority. And especially in the wake of a recent crime committed against a police officer. Somehow, you’re made to feel as if you are somehow disrespecting the dead.

It’s so manipulative.

Most people do and/or want to support and respect their police. They want to trust them. And tell their children, “If you’re in trouble just go and find a policeman.” That’s why there has been the anger.

No one policeman or anyone with authority is above the law. I believe this and it doesn’t make me non supportive of the brave, hard working men in blue that go out there every single day to protect us.

A horrible, despicable crime recently took place in Houston. A black man unloaded his gun on a white police officer who was just filling up his car with gasoline. Execution style. Absolutely heinous. I cannot imagine what his family must be feeling.

Was the policeman targeted because of his occupation? Maybe. He was in uniform.

But a fact of this matter, in this particular case, is that the murderer was declared mentally incompetent in 2012 and committed to a mental hospital. 

He was a man who had mental problems who had access to a gun. So he could fire multiple bullets (possible 15) into an innocent police officer. A husband and father.

These same people that keep posting are the ones that will spout out with their dying breath that there should be no gun control.

Yes, and this is just after another black man, a disgruntled employee, killed two people on live television. With a gun.

These are the same people that are posting about a black Sheriff quoting, “Stop trying to fix the police. Go fix the ghetto.” So, it’s now totally okay and it totally affirms their beliefs because we have one black man telling us the problem is with the ghetto. See, it’s not just the white people. Black people are saying it, too. So, it’s got to be true. They’re saying it, too!

Do we really want to trust just one mouth piece speaking for an entire race?

Bill Cosby comes to mind. A black celebrity and one of America’s beloved.

But then he started ranting about black folks (poor black folks) not taking responsibility for themselves, not getting educated, the dangers of drinking, drugging, sex and crime.

Lots of people loved this. See, Bill Cosby, a black man saying the same things we’ve been thinking! He’s right. Pick yourselves up from the bootstraps and get on with it. Use Bill as your example! You can do it!

Only to find out this highly educated, black man has raped countless women, after slipping them drugs. And then did not take responsibility for his crimes. If that is not the pot calling the kettle BLACK, I don’t know what is.

Thanks for the role modeling, Bill.

You do not speak for an entire race.

I have never been afraid of the police. Some of my friends are police officers. They are the first ones I would run to or call if I felt unsafe. They’d be the first ones I’d call if Bill Cosby invited me out for drinks.

But that’s me. I can’t speak for everyone.

A few things bother me. Let’s see if I can suss it out of this diatribe.

We have a huge problem with guns. These horrible examples cited were all crimes committed with guns. Domestic violence, mental illness, racism, etc. will always exist. It always has. Early intervention could bring the numbers down but these issues will always be there. In some form or fashion.

We can, however, reduce the number of murders in the United States with stricter gun control.

I cannot, right hand to God, even remember the names of all of the men who went on mass shooting sprees in the last five years. There are that many. Worse, there were over seventy one mass shootings since I graduated high school in the early 1980s. Most obtained the guns legally.

I can recall, however, the feeling I had, upon hearing that my niece had to hide in a cubby and my nephew was under his desk while their entire school was in lockdown mode. Because in the next town over, at Sandy Hook Elementary, twenty little angels-the same ages as my niece and nephew-were being systematically slaughtered by a man with a gun. I remember this killer’s name but I find it unnecessary to type it. Yeah, he had mental problems also. Obviously.

Another issue is the vitriol spewed out by these Kool-Aid drinking followers of a certain news channel and questionable politicians. They are so dogged and unyielding in their beliefs. Hmmm. They remind me of someone. Oh yes, that’s right. Bill Cosby had that same “holier than thou” attitude.

The third thing that bothers me is this. The reason for the uproar about the police shooting black males is/was because the police are the authority. We need the police. They, in my opinion, are the only ones who should have guns. As long as they are not shooting innocent folks.

But just google, when you have time, “Police shoot unarmed….” and see how many hits you will get. Is there an issue?

Do we have problems in the poor neighborhoods? Oh, yes. Especially in the poor, black neighborhoods. The black sheriff is 100% correct. We certainly need to fix the ghettoes. Address the poverty, unemployment, and education.

But we also need to address cases of injustice. And if some of the police forces need fixing then lets take care of that also. Ensure diversity training is available. Hire and increase the percentage of black officers.

Most of those who protect and serve are there because they want to make the surroundings a better, safer place. For us.

Police lives matter. Of course they do.

Black lives matter.

All lives matter.

But you actually have to believe that. For it to actually matter.

Fine Print

I headed out to the Dr. this morning. Soon realized I had forgotten my “cheaters.” They are not prescription glasses but I need them with me at all times.

Figured it would be no big deal. I’d be in and out. I never have to wait for him.

But, of course, today I was waiting.

Can’t really read any texts. Surely, I can’t send any out without knowing exactly what I typed. Couldn’t see much at all on my little phone.

I spy a magazine. It was about cosmetic surgery. Seriously, without my glasses, I couldn’t tell the difference in the before and after photos. There was a question and answer section also. One gal was interested in hymen reconstruction. A little bit of trickery going on so that the future husband will be none the wiser. I totally supposed this. Because I couldn’t make out the fine print to see what it actually said.

No one realizes more than me how much I rely on the dime store specs.

And yet. And yet a week ago I had my annual physical which includes the usual eye chart on the wall test.

I was taking that test like it was the SAT and meant my future depended on the results. I was so very serious competing against my own eyes. I’m so confident that I’m practically yelling out, “A” “E” “I” “O” “U”!!

That’s quite easy for the first couple of lines.

Then I’m stuttering, “E”

Ummm, no, it’s “C”

No, wait, I think it’s, “F”

What on earth was I trying to prove? I’m going around like Mr. Magoo without my glasses and yet I make every attempt to ace that test.

Like my eyes depended on it.

Humanity

I remember having a conversation (yeah, I know, crazy since I can hardly recall breakfast) with a fellow here in Kuala Lumpur. He is a wonderful, giving young man and had been doing a lot of work for and with the Rohingya refugees.

His fiancee, a lovely woman, was working on raising funds for a Rohingya refugee baby. The child had Down’s and a hole in her heart. The mother was single, homeless and had two other little ones. She could not afford the needed surgery.

So we were discussing this issue over some good eats and wine. He didn’t feel good about broaching the subject but his thoughts were that the money that was needed for this child’s surgery could help countless other refugees. To eat. To be educated.

We went back and forth respectfully. And I actually considered his thought process. Believe it or not, even if I don’t agree with someone, I do consider their side. Maybe not at the moment but I certainly do take the time to reflect. Because I am a Libra.

I was reading an article today about a little boy in Ireland who is in Boston with his parents. He needs a lung transplant. He had a deadly bone marrow disease that effects one in a million.

Be very careful about wishing to be one in a million. Ever!

He lost his sight. But a marrow transplant two years ago helped his disease. Until the disease effected his lungs.The medical professionals in Ireland/England do not want to perform the surgery-afraid of the outcome and his quality of life.

Boston is probably his last stop. Doctors have given this little four year old until Christmas.

There is a fund raising campaign since the family’s insurance will not cover an overseas operation.

Maybe I am just emotional today but my eyes kept tearing up. Not because he was from Ireland where my Dad was raised. Not because he is in Boston. Less than an hour from where I was raised.

But because I am a mother.

And I would do anything if it were my child. Selling my body might be a bit beyond the pale at my age. But I could have working parts (although would have to be heavily discounted) still available. My soul is totally up for grabs.

Because if we do say, “Well, she has Down’s Syndrome. Or he is blind. Or she probably won’t live long anyway. Or he/she will never be a productive member of society” then we are on a very slippery slope. That means that there will be a lot of line crossing and judgement calls.

I carefully considered both trains of thought. And this is what I concluded. Just my thoughts.

If we do not accept or help those that are less than “perfect” then I think we lose a little bit or maybe a whole lot of our humanity.

Roundabout

Ever since I was a little girl, my dad would say to me, “Oh boy, when you get a bee in your bonnet, watch out!”

This idiomatic expression means that once someone gets a thought in their head they can’t really let it go.

That’s not to say I was or am always like this. Just sometimes.

Like this one time. More than ten years ago.

I was driving in my Dallas suburb and pulled up to an intersection. Not a busy one. But a four way stop just the same. I waited my turn and while doing so noticed a book on the road. And some small cards. The book looked like a bible. The card looked like a picture of the pope. I am not the most religious person but I am no Sinead O’Connor.

Couldn’t help myself, got out, picked them all up and hopped back into the car.

It was a well worn St. Joseph’s Missal.

This intersection was a few blocks away from the Catholic Church so I figured someone had put it on the roof of their car and then drove away without realizing it.

I opened the book and there was a first name, surname and a St. Louis, Missouri address. The first name was one that I hadn’t ever heard during my lifetime.

So, I swung by the parish office and asked Cathy, the lady who worked there, if the surname looked familiar to her. She would know.

No luck.

What to do? What to do? Hmmmm.

I went home and googled the name. Nothing.

I did searches on the address. Nothing.

Then finally I had a hit.

The name didn’t match up with the one in the book but the address popped up with another name on a historical site that was dedicated to a neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri. Called Dogtown.

Well, let’s just say the name of that area certainly piqued my curiosity.

I sent an email to the fellow, a professor, who was running the site.

He immediately returned with his own email. Saying that he thinks the name might belong to the married sister of a lawyer that he knew. Whose family lived at that address years ago. He wasn’t willing to give out too much information to a virtual stranger but said he would check and get back to me.

And he did. Yes, the missal indeed belonged to this fellow’s sister. She had moved with her husband to our Dallas suburb to be closer to their daughter and her family.

I told him he could give them my number or give me theirs so that I could return it to them.

I thanked him for his help. Then, because I can’t help myself, I had to ask this local historian about the Dogtown area and how its name came into existence.

He told me a little bit about it and then I did some research on my own. It is a traditionally Irish area. Mining was big back in the day. There were a few different stories out there but one was that there were tons of holes dug, for coal and clay, spread out all over the place. Looked like what a bunch of dogs might leave behind after digging for bones. But also mining terminology includes the word “dog” so it very well could have originated from this.

Well, in the end, I delivered the lost items.

Since I knew a lot of people in town it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I knew their family. Their grandson, Brian, was a friend of my oldest daughter’s. And he was the student, on my first day of teaching CCD, that asked me, “Why did God create mosquitoes?” The day I almost threw in the towel!

The missal had belonged to the woman’s family. Her brother had taken it with him when he was called into the war. He and the missal came back safe and sound.

Her husband is the one who used it (and lost it) now. He was quite devout and still attended Masses in Latin.

We visited for a while. When I was ready to leave they gave me a gift. A Christmas ornament from the Botanical Garden in Missouri. How did they know my ornaments all have a story?

When I unpack this ornament I always think about them. Their missal. Dogtown. St. Louis, immigration and early communities.

And how there is just so much to learn. Each and every day. Sometimes in a roundabout way.

Fairness Matters

While I was visiting India last year, I perused the newspaper each morning. Lots of news always happening there. Such a diverse and huge country.

One day I was scanning the newspaper and came upon a full page of notices. Not announcements of the recently betrothed or married. But advertisements seeking husbands or wives.

Nothing new to me. Personal ads have been around for as long as I can remember. Although I suppose a lot of it is done on line these days.

But this particular page was a bit unusual to me.

i noticed the words “fair” and “very fair” appeared quite frequently. And not in the context of a fair minded individual. But rather a fair skinned one.

Being “whiter” is seen as “better” by many groups around the world.

Here in Malaysia, I see billboards promoting whitening skin creams. I have seen Japanese and Korean advertisements for loads of different products that promise a lighter complexion.

Dark skin also can be viewed as a sign of laboring folks. Causing higher classes in some places to look down upon them.

The term “High Yellow” has been around in the United States for a very long time and the differing shades of people often created class distinctions in the African-American community.

So, I am aware that this complexion thing exists.

I guess I was just surprised seeing it in so many of the advertisements. It appears to be a very important thing for these people who are seeking a life partner. Yes, education, values and good family background are mentioned. But “fair” or “very fair” seem to be the word du jour.

What also surprised me is that it didn’t matter whether they were Hindu, Muslim or a certain caste. Or seeking a mate with the same language or green card status. Fairness is what matters.

fair2 fair3 fair4 fair5 fair6 hindu

How fair is that?

One Leg Up

My dog, Thumper, is about five years old. When we first welcomed him into the household he was a mere pup. Soon after he arrived he apparently thought it would be a good idea (while I was in the bathroom) to jump up and try to grab some treats that were on the kitchen counter. Epic fail. He fell down hard and ended up breaking a bone in his little leg.

Well, a new, sporty, heavy and purple cast was not going to keep that boy’s energetic self down for long. He was up and down the stairs with his usual abandon. Except that he needed to compensate for the weight of the cast. So he sort of hoisted his leg up when he was heading down the stairs.

Five years later. Totally healed.  He has moved on and gotten on with it. But he STILL hoists that one leg up when he is coming down the stairs. After five years.

It is so strange.

But it is a reminder for me. Many folks I come across are moving on after injuries, physical and emotional, and I need to remember that they are still hoisting that one leg up as they are coming down the stairs.

That Feeling

I am in my fiftieth year. Doesn’t seem possible in so many ways! I’m still such a child at heart.

One important thing I do really care about is having (retaining) the spirit of a child. Specifically the child I was.

Went on a road trip with my cousin and a dear friend of mine. It was so much fun.

We rented bikes and took a ride around the lake in Acadia National Park in Maine. No one allowed except bikers, walkers and horses.

As I was rounding a bend, in a sun-dappled forest, on a perfect weather day, I spread out my arms like a kid as I headed down the hill. Taking it all in and loving that exhilarating feeling.

My friend said later, “Don’t you wish you could just bottle that? So on those crappy days you could just feel it again?”

Yes, that would be fantastic. There are not many of those days. It sure would be nice if we could bottle it.

If you asked me when I had that feeling before I could cite you a couple of examples off the top of my head.

Egads! My child birthing and wedding day are not on the list. That’s an altogether different emotion.

One time was when I was at a park in Los Angeles waiting for my eldest to arrive at LAX Airport. This park was in the path of the international flights.

I was lying on the ground, flat on my back, with these huge planes landing so close I felt I could almost touch their bellies. It was so incredibly awesome. I kept laughing like a little kid.

There was also a time when we were living in Southern California and I was at the pool in our community. My husband came home from work, rode up to the pool on a bike, picked me up and we glided down the way to our place. Me with my legs in the air-sitting side-saddle. It was so fun.

We all have great times with friends and family. Lots of laughs and memorable occasions. They are so special. But there are those times when it’s a little bit more. Maybe because it is reminiscent of childhood?

When was the last time you really felt the exhilaration?

 

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