Archive

Posts Tagged ‘justice’

small steps toward justice

Two years ago, I submitted a complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice.

My older son’s school had recently changed owners. I was sad to see the old owner go; she’d been so sweet to both my sons. On the other hand, she’d had to close the school baby room, which meant I’d had to move my then-infant son to a school that cost more than twice as much.

The new owners would be reopening the school’s baby room. If I could move my younger son back there, I’d pay half as much for his daycare. I was relieved by the prospect.

Unfortunately, two factors converged against his enrollment.

First, he’d recently been diagnosed with a severe egg allergy. Where he went, so went his EpiPen. Read more…

Advertisements

starfish

This August has been beautiful. I may well be happier than I have ever been.


Me of last August could not have conceived of this. In a world so full of so much suffering that need never have been, how could joy be permitted? How could hope be reasonable?

Last September, I created a separate blog to learn to speak Politics. I (usually) didn’t want to bore or inflame people here, and beside that, life and politics were two mostly unrelated, easily separable things.

Simply put, I understood the world far, far too narrowly.

By documenting so much of my journey there, much of it was lost here. I helped sustain the illusion that life and politics are separate, and that they can be treated as such without consequence.

What does this have to do with happiness, anyway?

Quite a lot, actually. And explaining this has a lot to do with … starfish.

There’s an inspirational story where a person comes upon someone throwing starfish washed up onto shore back into the ocean. 

“Why throw a few starfish into the ocean when there are so many you can’t reach? What does it even matter?” asks the passerby.

“It matters a whole lot to the ones I throw back.”

There’s good in that story, of course, but it’s only part of the story.

How did all the starfish get there? Was it by natural forces absent humans, or did humans have a role? If humans had/have a role, what role? How do we change the outcome of multitudes of starfish left to dry out and die on the sand? If we treat only the outcome, and only for a few starfish, have we really done much worth praising, or simply forestalled death–for a few–for a few days?

A year ago, I didn’t know to ask such questions. Six months ago, I was pretty certain all was futile, but I kept asking questions in case I could reach a less grim conclusion.

Now, the questions flow easy, and I have a solid understanding of the gargantuan starfish-expulsion machine that lands so many starfish on the shore. It makes the sea pristine and spacious by extracting all unwanted–to it–life from areas it perceives as its domain.

I see the machine and I think, yeah, we’ve gotta throw back as many starfish as we can. Because even if we’re just buying those cast back into the ocean a few days, those could be the days that matter. Those could be the days it takes to break the machine and restore a more natural, kinder order to more living creatures.

Though I’ll slowly move many of my L2SP posts over, it’s not because I still believe all is eternally, hopelessly grim. It’s not because I want you to agree with me, or because I care if you do. 

It’s because a lot of work went from crashing into despair to rising back into hope.

This is where I have chosen to tell my story as it unfolds, so this story–about starfish and salvation–belongs here.

Categories: history, politics Tags: , ,

my playlist

I’ve been building and rebuilding a playlist in my mind the last couple of weeks. I’ll write about it someday, I’m sure, I thought. When I’ve finally gotten it right-enough.

Without pressure or hurry, it could have been months before I solidified the playlist. But then I read a post that got me fired up, and I found my playlist.

The post bemoaned how everything is a competition now: singing, playing instruments, sports, politics. Everyone’s in it to win it. Period. Read more…

perspective(s)

I’ve wanted to write a post about perspective, but I wasn’t sure how to begin it.

Then, yesterday, my husband turned my three-year-old’s carseat around. Instead of facing backward, looking through my car’s rear window, Littler faced forward and shared my view through the front window.

“Woooooooooo!” he yelled after we pulled out of our driveway and began down the road. “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” He might as well have been riding a roller coaster.

“You like the view, huh?” asked Littler’s older brother, Li’l D.

“Yeah!” cheered Littler, who’d had more than his car seat reoriented.

His whole perspective had changed.

Last week, a familiar horror crept over me while I read. None of this can be changed, I thought. It’s far too late to choose a different track.

The fact I’d thought such a thing was my signal: It was time to set aside the book I was reading. Though it was both illuminating and engagingly written, its content was grim.

I’ve learned over the last couple of months that I must read such things in small doses. Doing otherwise can catapult me into depression. (For example, I shouldn’t have read Matt Taibbi’s Griftopia and The Divide back to back. Spending a couple of days immersed in what exactly a handful of corrupt financiers have gotten away with while millions of others languish in prison for less … left me thinking, for some weeks, there is no way to overcome this scale of injustice.)

What can I read right now that will walk me back toward something like hope? I wondered. I landed on The Guardian’s George Monbiot, whose words reveal wisdom and perspective that reorient my heart.

One article’s title especially piqued my curiosity: “Finally, a breakthrough alternative to growth economics – the doughnut.” Read more…

Please keep smiling

For several years, I worked next to a mosque. Its parking lot often overflowed on Fridays and religious holidays; on such days, my company’s owners permitted its congregants to park in the company parking lot.

Once, I saw women step out of a car and cover themselves for service. I smiled on my way into the office. They smiled back.

Many times, I walked by women already covered. I’d smile at each, if she looked at me; much more often than not, I’d see eyes wrinkling from smiles returned.

(Seeing mouths isn’t the most important thing to seeing smiles.)

After exchanging such smiles one afternoon, I remembered a conversation with a male friend years before and hundreds of miles away.

“You’re not supposed to look at them when they’re dressed like that!” he’d told me. I replied that I’d never heard such a thing, and that I’d keep greeting human beings as human beings.

I posted about the new smile and the old conversation on Facebook. “Please keep smiling,” one Muslim friend soon replied. 

I committed to doing so.

A year ago, I saw a Muslim family on a plane and just about broke into a cold sweat.

I came to my senses soon enough. Warm smiles were exchanged that day, too. 

When I returned home, I told my husband, “Fearmongering works!”

(I vow now not to let it.)

“Yep.” he replied. “That’s why they use it.”

Protesting at LAX last weekend, I saw many women wearing hijabs. In all the hubbub, I only spoke with two. I was tired and ineloquent as I greeted them with my two-year-old on my hip, but they were lovely.

“Ugh, I’m saying all the wrong things,” I mumbled a couple minutes into conversation. Both women, Sara and Hannah, said no, no, no; Hannah’s face was especially aglow with compassion that filled me with a sense of okay-ness.

Maybe I didn’t say the right words. Maybe there are no right words.

What I do know is that I said I’d keep smiling.

I meant it,

and I will.


MLK, Jr: passionate and revolutionary

A couple months ago, I wrote about Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s pursuit of positive peace. King succinctly but powerfully differentiated this peace from what he described as “negative peace”:

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I began today writing a rejection of WashPost’s vision of the “conservative” MLK, Jr. You can read that if you’d like.

Whether or not you read that, please do read MLK, Jr’s letter from a Birmingham jail at the very least, and understand King’s love wasn’t mild and conservative but passionate and revolutionary.

Two people I’ve loved

This morning, I realized I’d deprived you of some context in my previous post about “fake news.”

Americans are deprived of enough context already. I don’t want to contribute to that, knowingly or inadvertently.

I’ll soon tell you a story–true, as far as I know, if necessarily abbreviated–filling in context needed to understand the why of yesterday’s post.

Today I’ll tell you a little about my personal context: two people I’ve loved who make my next post’s history personal.

When I was very young, my godparents adopted a daughter. She came from Guatemala, and had black hair, black eyes, and skin far darker than I was used to seeing in my hometown.

She was so bossy that I couldn’t stand her most the time. Sometimes, though, she’d get a sad kind of quiet. She’d whisper about very bad things she’d endured back home, and I’d feel sad with her … briefly, before I’d continue being annoyed by her bossiness.

My first love was a dark-skinned boy from Honduras. My preteen heart fluttered the first time I saw him, waiting outside church for the bus to summer camp.

At camp, we walked and talked often. Once, we sat by a creek just before dinner. He told me about some of the horrors he’d endured in Honduras. He captured my heart as he recounted these things with simultaneous strength and vulnerability.

(A few decades later, my heart is still full of loving recognition of his powerful goodness.)

I visited him often for months after summer camp ended. I eventually broke off visiting, fearing the intensity of my feelings.

(Intense feelings led scary places in my home.)

Both my Guatemalan godsister and my Honduran first love inform my response to the history I’ll share next.

I want you to know of both these people before you even begin reading my next post.

Context matters, and they are part of mine.

This 12/8/16 post transferred from L2SP 8/24/17.

%d bloggers like this: