Tag Archives: history

White Lies

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I continue to be amazed that week by week the news is filled with what might be considered an excessive amount of mounting incredulity that covers not only political stories, but those that have revealed the depth of the underbelly of celebrity and power mongers . These are men who have taken any semblance of our core values and destroyed them at the cost of perpetuating lies to save themselves.  It becomes a matter of don’t believe what you see, believe what I say.  Like a shell game, while you are watching and following one story, another one emerges that distracts  you from what you thought you heard.  I go from a slow simmer to a raging boil.

My FHB and I recently received a card from a very special friend that said “WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINIST”.  It is not a funny card.  It is a statement that resonated with us both.   The concept of feminism does not still just belong to women,  but is a belief that all can embrace, that essentially acknowledges that all people  should be regarded with equal value. Why wouldn’t this be something that all people recognize as the right thing to do.  The women who have stepped forward in the recent weeks to acknowledge the degradation that they have experienced by men who lauded social, economic , sexual and physical power over them for no reason except that they felt it was their “right” have given a louder voice to others to step out of the shadows of shame and shift the blame to where it belongs.

I am blessed to be surrounded by men of character, kindness, dignity who value all people,  and who know what it means to love and respect others.  My FHB is man of moral strength and kindness toward others.  He is outraged at the men in powerful roles, who could have the ability to make changes to our social landscape but choose to create a revisionist history to save their sorry asses and deny the truth.  He was always privy to my own personal history and challenges, and when I typed #metoo this week, it was felt in his heart with sadness and frustration.

We have grandaughters who have their lives to look forward to in this world, and we wonder what will be the outgrowth of this current scandalous period in history.  The innocence of childhood should not be filled with anxiety and shame and the possibility of harm.  We can only shelter in place for so long before there are going to be questions.  I want to be able to give good answers that tell the real story of how we the people saved the world and we did it  all together and we got rid of the bad guys because they didn’t have a place anymore in this world.

 

 

 

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Things she missed

 

 

My father always was waiting for my mother. Even if he told her that they had to leave for somewhere at a certain time, and adjusted it for “Inge Time”, she always kept him waiting.  Even in death, he got to wherever one goes, nine years ahead of her.  She finally joined him in 2008, on May 29th.  That’s when my sister and I became orphans.  However long you have your parents around, when they die, you become orphans.  In the years since she died, I thought about all the changes that happened in the world that would have interested her and angered her.  I thought of moments when I truly have felt that there were events in the world that I was grateful she was not around to see. There are other moments that I wished she was here to enjoy and discuss.

The fall of 2008 the world went through the worst financial crisis since the Depression.  As a woman who worked in the business world she would have been angry at whoever was “minding the store”.  She would have been amazed that Barack Obama was elected president twice and that during his tenure, Osama bin Laden was killed by our military.  She would have spouted that it was good that the SOB had been found and killed.  She liked when bad people got their due.  She would have cheered for “Sully” Sullenberger for saving the plane and landing in the Hudson River.  She avoided “swine flu” and “Ebola”.  She would have worried about all the hurricanes but especially about Hurricane Sandy hitting NYC so hard.  She would been concerned that Michael Jackson passed away “so young” as she liked his music.  She might have been amazed at our landing a rover on Mars, since the Moon landing in 1969 was something we were allowed to stay up late to watch on a neighbor’s television.  Neil Armstrong died after she did .

She would have been worried about the Boston Marathon bombing because it took place in Massachusetts where her children live and would have lamented the number of terrorist acts that occurred on US soil.  As an immigrant, she would have been so angry at the feelings against Muslims because as a Jewish woman, she had known hate and felt its effect.  She would have been irate with Brian Williams  re-writing his own history. She often said that his eyes were too close together and that you couldn’t trust someone who looked like that.  She would have been pleased that Prince William found a bride as she worried about the young princes without their mother.  That President Obama opened relations with Cuba might have provoked feelings in both directions, suspicion as well as curiosity.  Robin Williams death would have saddened her as she liked “Mork from Ork”.

Inge would have taken much joy in knowing that she had great-grandchildren and that my FHB and I were grandparents twice over.  She would have kvelled at her grandson’s wedding and enjoyed meeting her grand-daughter in law.   Knowing that one of her grandsons had made it to Yale in the Nurse Practitioner program , and another one finished up his PhD at Harvard would have made her so proud, and everyone she knew would  have known.  She would have felt much peace in knowing her youngest grandson was safe and living in a idyllic  setting in the Berkshires, not far from Tanglewood and was very happy.

Time accelerates at a pace that I never imagined. Nine years seems like a moment.  Current events become history.  Inge’s death was a piece of her living, not her life.  She’s still the topic most  every day and remembered with stories of motherhood, friendship, life partner for my father, as well as someone whose life was part of the context of my life.  She challenged, she gave, she baked and she is missed.

But for the children….

I do not consider myself an overtly political person.  I formulate my opinions and investigate the issues and if asked, I will probably give a truthful answer of what my thought are on hot topics or views.  My demeanor is to try and learn within the dictates of a neutral position, until it is necessary for me to speak up. I speak up when I witness situations, either directly or through other relatively reliable sources, and I know that something is very wrong.  The news these days is particularly frought with completely crazy drama.  I am not going to spend time in that realm as it has already been discussed, synthesized, analyzed beyond what I could add to it.

What brings me to tears, on sometimes a daily basis, is when children die.  Last night I saw footage of dead children.  They  were described as just young children walking to school, in what had become a war zone, casualties of missiles and attacks, supposedly aimed at soldiers on opposing sides…except that these were children, not soldiers and they didn’t do anything wrong.  My breath is taken away, and the tears roll down my cheeks and I feel a sense of helplessness and the depth of sadness, as  I recognize that something has gone very wrong.  There is no numbing out of feelings when it comes to children dying.  I could turn off the pictures and the sound. I could choose to listen to something else, something pleasant and familiar but it wouldn’t change what is happening whether I bear witness or I don’t.  In a country I will never visit, in communities of people I will never meet, I will still cry for the parents and grandparents and families. I will cry for the loss of a life, of the  possibility of that child having the  experience of growing up and knowing the world.  I don’t pretend to understand the nuances of battle and war and what winning means and what losing costs.  I only know that as a grandparent, a parent, a member of a family, that to lose a child as a “casualty” of war will never be something I could ever come to accept because it is unacceptable.

Being lucky in life takes on new meaning as time progresses.  Having the company of people I care about, and who care about me, makes me feel lucky.  Having plenty of food and a more than adequate shelter, a a peaceful existence, and intellectual stimulation and the ability to travel safely to and from my work and beyond makes me know that I am lucky.  A simple life includes music and books and the ability to learn new things, through my own experience or through the teachings of others.  Despite the normal frustrations of day to day interactions and obstacles, the sense of purpose and resolve allows the day to end and the next day to begin with a sense of certainty.  Not so for children caught in the midst of war.  The rules do not apply.  There is no luck or guarantee of much.  As parents and grandparents we worry, as that is hardwired at the moment you become responsible for another human being.  It has no end date. It is perpetual for as long as it is possible.  I shed the tears and then I get really angry.  I cannot accept this situation and I wonder if I was more “political” whether it would help.  My father who studied economics used to talk about war as the conflict between the “haves” and the “have nots”.  It seemed like a simple construct that if I didn’t factor in the humanity, it seemed like something that had to occur to continue to build reasonable civilizations.  I often wonder how he would view the world today, having been a refugee, an American soldier in World World II, a business man, a parent, a grandparent, a child.  The first war that my generation was aware of was the Vietnam War….it was in our living room nightly.  My father did not shelter us from seeing the numbers of casualties across the screen.  He didn’t explain who was on which side.  We were expected to develop our own views.  Here we are again, except that in the last 50 plus years , I have no clearer understanding of what happened then and what is happening now.  The media and the journalists explain things and it is subjective.  I cry because I will never reconcile why the children, just walking to school, didn’t get there.

Be peaceful this weekend and smile at strangers since we never know everyone’s story.

 

No Limits

This past weekend, while driving through neighboring towns, headed toward one of the most bountiful farmstands to buy fresh vegetables and have lunch al fresco,  I asked my FHB “If you could invite anyone to dinner, dead or alive, who would it be?”.  Without a moments hesitation he said “Thomas Jefferson”.  I wanted details.  I asked for the why, and wondered whether it was because of his political views, history, or personal story.  The answer was actually quite simple.   Since we visited Jefferson’s home, Monticello, in Virginia, many years ago, he was fascinated by the inventiveness and beauty of the building and he would want to ask him questions about the construction and design.  My FHB is an incredibly creative man, who paints  from realism and builds  furniture from a practical vantage point.  Function and form is his credo.  Delving into Jefferson’s designs for his plantation home, there was a parallel in terms of his practical nature when it came to having furniture and arranging space.  I asked the question of where dinner would take place and apparently it would be in our loft.  I then asked who else would be at the table, and he stated that Norm Abrams, Master Carpenter from “This Old House”,  would also be invited.  I already figured out that I would be preparing the meal,  and I was curious as to what we would be serving Mr. Jefferson (not sure if we would call him Mr. President) and Mr. Abrams.  Since we live in a seaport and fishing city,  fish would be on the menu.  At this point, we had arrived at the farm and we sat and ate our lunch and worked on the details of the dinner.  I was dithering about the table setting and placement of our guests.  I didn’t want to be too formal, as in bring out the real good china, but on the other hand how often do you get to sit and eat with two people with whom you can get right to the heart of the details of shared knowledge, and talk about what your passions are.  I decided that the Wedgewood would not be over the top, and we would ,of course, use cloth napkins. I was not planning to sit, but listen in from the kitchen area. There would be no tablecloth, because the  wood is so beautiful,  I thought that  both men might comment on it.

The beauty of the conversation was enhanced by the realization on my part, and I am sure on my FHB’s part, that creating a dinner, attended by the people he  would want to break bread with (something crusty, of course, with sweet butter), is  always within our imagination.  I like to think of it as stretching our brains and satisfying that itch that often   comes from wanting to reach beyond the mundane.  The excitement of considering the possibility of experiencing the magic of history pared with our contemporary creative idols made it so real, in the moment.  It was satisfying to be engaged in creating a moment in our imaginations that we could both build together.

Reality is often constrained by the obligations we  have to consider.  As adults, we spend a lot of time, running errands and doing tasks.  We feel committed to  following our routine,  which, although comforting in some moments, can feel like a path worn down by doing it over and over again, day in and day out.

I like to ask the questions that generate the possibility that nothing is impossible.  In past days of counseling small children, they would often build wonderful structures out of blocks and give me details of what the building was, and who lived there, and how one entered and so on.  At the end of the hour, they would fret that they had to dismantle it, and resisted the idea that someone else might want to build another castle, and need those same blocks.  It was a frequent discussion.  The solution that I offered was that we would stand and “take a picture in our minds”.  I would put my hands up at eye level, and wait for the little one to copy my stance.  I would hold my hands as though I had a camera (not an iPhone) and we would count to three and click the shutter.  In that moment, a smile would come across their face and they would say “I have good picture,  it’s in my mind”.  Life would go on till the next time.

There are no limits  on how we can conquer our world with our imaginations.   Those moments do pass, but we can hold them as pictures in our minds.  I would hope that Thomas Jefferson would be happy to talk about his house and not his political views and enjoy a good meal and meet both Norm and my FHB.  It would be a great evening.  Imagine that…and have a great week.