Category Archives: Attitude

Church – is it the building? Or the people?

I went to church today.  It has been a long, long time.  While I pray daily, and read and study scriptures regularly,  I have only been to church a handful of times in the last two to three years.  I think that today was only the second time that I’ve taken communion since the day before my dad died.

It has been over a year since I attended the church that I still think of as my “home” church. It has been closer to 3 years since I attended any church at all on any kind of regular basis.  I have not been out of fellowship with God.  But during the last few months of my father’s illness, I did feel abandoned by Christian leadership – an elder that I had turned to for help, and was refused.  And when my father died, and I no longer had the responsibility of weekend care for him – I thought “ah – I can start going back to church” – and I didn’t.  For over a year, now, save the rare visit to another congregation, I have not attended church.

I didn’t understand why I wasn’t going back to church.  I enjoyed church.  My home church had an awesome preacher.  I had friends at church.  But I found it so much easier to simply not go.  To sleep late.  To allow the headache to keep me home.  Even on days that I actually got up, got dressed – I would find myself listening to a sermon on the radio, rather than get in the car and go.

I simply didn’t want to go to church.  And as I pondered this, I realized that I felt hurt, abandoned, and angry over the fact that the elder that I had asked to arrange – not to do it himself, but to put up a sign-up list – to bring me and my father communion had turned me down.  At the point in time that I asked this elder, this church leader, about arranging communion, my father and I had not been to church in almost a year.  My father had reached the point in his illness that he needed someone at the house all of the time.   Unless I was out of town on business, I usually was at dad’s house on Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, and Sunday, plus other times during the week.  When he felt up to it, I would drive him to his church.  He had not felt up to going to church for nearly a year.  We both missed communion.  My father’s congregation was very tiny.  Some services, less than 30 people in attendance, and mostly female.  My congregation was much much larger – hundreds of people.  So I asked an elder if he would set up a sign-up sheet for people to bring us communion.  I said “Once a month, even, is better than nothing.”  And he said no.

As I pondered why I wasn’t going back to church, I realized that this sense of betrayed trust from a person whom I respected as an elder and leader of my home church, had resulted in a deep hurt and hidden anger that I had not allow myself to acknowledge.  And this hurt and anger was a huge reason why I felt no desire to return to services.  So I started working on it.  I prayed about it.  I talked about it to my counselor.

And finally, today, I went back to church.

The singing was great.  The sermon was inspirational.  The announcements…

Well, some things had happened, that I hadn’t even noticed.  One of the things that I had always liked about this congregation was the fact that it has tended to be a little more casual in some ways.  People could bring water bottles in with them.  Or travel cups of coffee.  Little snacks for their children.  I’ve always thought that was rather nice.  But today, one of the announcements was that the church had replaced the pews and the carpets recently, and in order to keep them looking nice for as long as possible, do not bring any food or drink into the sanctuary.

I looked around.  I had seen the new decorations on the wall behind the pulpit.  I had not even noticed that the carpet and pews were different.  I had been more interested in people, rather than in furnishings.  When I looked around at the new carpet and pews, I saw several water bottles that people had brought.  And the thought crossed my mind…

Is church the building?  Or is it the people?

And that thought reminded me of another congregation in the area, of the same non-denomination as my “home” church.  Several years ago, I saw that they were putting barriers up over the driveways into the parking lot.  Now, I thought at first that maybe they were going to be sign posts.  But no signs appeared on them.  After pondering what they might be, I actually called the church to find out if my supposition was correct.  To my immense sadness, it was.

They were putting up barriers to prevent tractor trailer rigs from coming onto their parking lot.  They were afraid that such heavy vehicles would tear up their parking lot and they would have to spend money on repairs.  My first thought was “What a wasted opportunity for evangelism.”  My second thought was “I wonder if that is what Jesus would have done.”

Jesus ate with publicans and sinners.  Jesus took opportunities to teach.  Jesus gave us a law of love – to love all people, everywhere, to do good to those who harm us.  He spoke on beaches, hill-sides, in people’s homes, in the synagogues, by wells…where ever he was, he taught and he healed, body and soul.

Is church the building?  Or is it the people?

If church is the building, then by all means, let’s spend money on decorations.  Let’s spend money on carpets and new cushioned pews.  Lets spend money on barriers to keep out people that we don’t want in.  Let’s put rules and regulations into place designed to keep things looking pretty.  Let’s build huge churches, so everyone will know we are there.  Let’s ban water for those who are thirsty, and food for those who hunger.

If church is the people?  Let’s meet their needs, whatever they are, in the best, most loving, Christ-like way that we can.

Is church the building?  Or is it the people?

 

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Racism, Violence, Prejudice – thoughts on Charlottesville

This is going to be a bit rambling. They are some thoughts that I have had over the last few days. I suspect that some of my friends will not agree with everything that I am about to say. Oh, well. Feel free to comment – but keep it civil.
Now, those who know me, know that I am not a fan of Trump. But there have been some things that I have seen and read the last few days that has got me thinking.
 
I have not seen all the news. I have not seen all the analysis. I have seen stuff from the far right, which I distrust – especially since most of it was just words, and not actual video. I have seen stuff from the far left, which I also distrust. I have seen a little stuff from more mainstream sources. I do not know who actually started the violence. I saw videos of black people being beaten by the white supremacists. I saw videos of people being sprayed with mace or pepper spray, or rinsing out their eyes, and said that they had been sprayed by the counter protesters. I saw a video of a spray can being used as a flame thrower against the supremacists. I heard reports of urine being thrown on people from both sides.  I saw a video of a White supremacist pulling gun after gun out, that he had taken to the protest; I heard reports of Antifa and BLM people also coming armed, although I did not see any video of that.  And, of course, there was the attack with the car that resulted in a death and several injuries, and a video of a white supremacist saying the deaths were justified.
 But from what I did see, when Trump said there was violence on both sides – he was right. No, not all of the counter-protesters were violent – in fact, many of them were unarmed and peaceful. But not all of them. I don’t know who actually started the violence – but there is enough video evidence to show there was violence on both sides.
 
When Trump said there were good people on both sides of that event – he was right. I have heard of people, from their own testimony, who were taught to be racist. As they grew, however, and came to know people of other racists, they realized that the belief they had been taught as a child was not a valid one. And they changed. Who knows how many of those marchers might be like that?  Basically good people, who were fed a horrible lie from the time they were young?
Also, from what I understand, there were people there, not because they are racist, or believe that white people are better than anyone else, but because they do not believe the Civil War statues should come down. It is a part of our history. These statues are of people who often were war heroes before the Civil War. Some of them fought in the Civil War – not because they were fighting for slavery, in fact, in some of my historical studies, I have come across the statement, more than once, that some people who fought for the South were actually against slavery, but they were loyal to their state. I understand why people want to take certain statues down – but I also understand why people who are NOT racist or supremacists want to leave them up. There is an old saying – those who do not remember their history are doomed to repeat it.  Some people say that we need to keep these reminders so it never happens again.  George Washington was a slave owner, as were many other of our founding fathers – do we take their statues down, also?
 
Finally – Trump said “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” And that wasn’t enough for people. And when he specifically named the KKK, etc, “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.” He was criticized for taking so long to condemn those groups. One of the statements that he made was that he was trying to take the time to get all of the facts. So – I have seen Trump criticized for commenting before he has the facts – and now I have seen him criticized for waiting to get all the facts.  You can’t have it both ways – if you are going to criticize him for speaking too soon, how can you criticize him for waiting?
 
Unfortunately, in America, the fact that I have a primarily non-Hispanic Caucasian background has automatically made my life easier than my friends who are not Caucasian.  I know this – how? Because I have, in a small way, experienced racial prejudice.  
My parents were strong advocates for equality. My dad believed that “In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free.” He taught me to believe that we are all brothers. That our differences should be celebrated – but that we are all family. He did a lot of work behind the scenes to get the local college to integrate.  During the time of the Little Rock Nine, our city, an hour away, had a peaceful integration process – and part of that credit goes to my father.  I grew up with my father being the white preacher of the black Church of Christ in our town.  When my mother realized that no camp in the area allowed black children to attend, our property became a day camp for the local community. Years later, my father told me how their involvement in the black community had hurt my mother’s social life – my parents suffered prejudice because they believed in equality.  
While in my home town, I didn’t feel the effects of my parent’s involvement in Civil Rights, in the late 60s, I personally was affected.  We lived in Starkville, MS for two years while my dad was getting his PhD.  My mother was one of the first two white teachers to teach in the black school system.  KKK burned a cross in the other teacher’s yard – we spent the rest of the time wondering if they would do it to us, also.  The local Church of Christ basically told us that the children – mom’s students – that we were bringing to church (at their request) were not welcome – we found a denomination to worship at that didn’t care what color you were.  I don’t remember the piano in the sanctuary ever being played, but it was the first time in my life that I went to a church that had one – but equality in Christ was more important to my parents than the possibility of instrumental music.  And school for me – 5th and 6th grade – let’s just say that children can be cruel, and because of where my mother worked, I was the recipient of that cruelty on an almost daily basis –  I was called ugly names, ostracized, pushed around, and more.  Those two years in Mississippi are among the worst in my life.  So, I cannot claim to know what it was like to be the victim of prejudice on an ongoing, daily basis, but I do have a small taste of it.  
And it is wrong.  We are all brothers (and sisters).  We are all family.  If you are a Christian, Christ died for all of us – equally.  If you are not a Christian – we all bleed the same color, have the same type of internal organs, and all women share the same mitochondrial DNA from a woman who lived in Africa.
Violence is not an answer to hatred and prejudice.  Violence is not an answer to someone who feels they are superior based on race.  Violence begets violence.  But what is the answer to violence?  The answer is love.  And it is hard, so hard to love someone who hates you.  But to respond with hatred and violence only creates a vicious circle, and one that will only spiral down into a worsening situation.
Martin Luther King, Jr said it well:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
And for the believer, Jesus said it even better:  “Love your neighbor.”  And the example he gave made it clear that your neighbor is not just the person who lives next door, who looks like you – rather, your neighbor is anyone in the world that you come across.
The only way to solve problems of prejudice, hatred, violence – is with love and understanding.

A Social Media Experiment

According to Facebook, my activity for the last few days:

On Dec 29, I posted on my own timeline  6 times.  I commented on 19 posts.  I liked 7 posts.

On Dec 30, I posted on my own timeline 2 times.  I commented on 14 posts.  I liked 15 times.

On Dec 31, I posted on my own timeline 4 times. I commented on 15 posts.   I Liked 11 posts by others.

On Jan 1, I posted or shared 4 times on my own wall.   I commented on 12 posts. I liked 4 posts by others.

On Jan 2, I shared 2 comics to my wall.  I commented on 7 posts, I liked 7 posts.

Jan 3, I posted a birthday wish to a relative.  I made 1 comment.  I liked 2 posts.

Jan 4, nothing.

Jan 5, No timeline posts, 1 comment, no likes.

Jan 6?  Nothing.

Jan 7? Nothing

Jan 8?  Nothing

Jan 9? Nothing

Jan 10? Nothing

Jan 11?  A question on a business page.

Jan 12?  So far, another question on a different business page.

Between Dec 25 and Dec 31, 26 posts, 73 comments and 53 likes, for a total of 152 Facebook interactions for 7 days.

From Jan 1 until Jan 11, 8 posts, 21 comments, and 13 likes, for a total of 42 Facebook interactions for 11 days.  And 6 of those days I did not post anything.  I did send a couple of private messages to people.  I continued to play my Facebook games, but my game posts are set to me only, so they shouldn’t have showed up on my timeline.

I don’t believe I have ever gone that many days without posting on Facebook before.

Now, why did I suddenly stop my normal Facebook activity?  I got curious.

I was listening to news a few days ago.  On Wednesday, Dec 28, a young woman was live-streaming to Facebook when she evidently had some kind of seizure or heart attack and died.  Her toddler was present.  Her family said that over a thousand people were watching as their daughter died, and no one did anything about it.  She was at a friend’s house, and not found until the friend came home, some 30 minutes later.  According to the reports that I heard, although the screen had gone dark when she dropped the phone, the audio was still on.  You could hear her struggling to breathe, with the child crying in the background, until you can’t hear her breathe anymore.  The friend who found her was the one who turned the live stream off.

I thought about that.  I wondered – I have 491 friends listed on Facebook.  What would happen if I suddenly, without warning, disappeared?  Some of my other friends have gone dark, but they have usually given notice first – let their friends know that they were going to not be posting for a while.  I watch for them, and a few days later, they are back.

But what would happen if, without any notice, someone stopped posting?  Would anyone notice? If they did, how long would it take?  What would they do about it?  Anything?  Would they ask me if I was OK?  Would they comment on my wall?

One of my posts at the end of December I talked about the fact that I was climbing on a very shaky ladder, and I wished someone was with me in case it fell over.  I am a fairly solitary person.  I live out in the country, and while I have family living nearby, we don’t interact on a daily basis.  If I were to fall or hurt myself, how long would it take before anyone would notice my absence?

I decided to go dark on Jan 2.  I realized on Jan 3 how hard that would actually be – I was still reading Facebook.  There were so many things that I wanted to comment on, that I wanted to like.  I was tagged on posts that I wanted to respond to, but didn’t.  I wanted to share things.

I had not realized until this past couple of weeks how much I use Facebook to feel connected to people.  I don’t talk to people on a regular basis – and Facebook has become my substitute for casual conversation.  So many times this week I would have a thought and I would think “Oh, I need to post that” and then stop myself.  Facebook is my social connection.  Without Facebook, almost all of my conversation would be one-sided.  I talk to whoever on Facebook might be listening (or rather, reading) rather than talking to myself.  Sometimes, thru comments, I can have extended conversations that might last for a couple of days.

And I wonder how many others use Facebook for their primary social outlet.

And what happens when they no longer are posting?  Are they sick?  Are they depressed?  Are they suicidal?  Are they hurt?  Have I even noticed?  And if I have noticed that someone isn’t posting as much, have I ever asked about them?  Have I checked on them?

I have, actually, once or twice.  More likely, I don’t even notice.  If something isn’t on my feed at the time that I am on it, I never read it.  It is easy to miss postings by people.  And thus, it is easy to not be aware if someone stops posting.   I do, occasionally, go to a friend’s page to check on things.  But  with 491 Facebook friends, I’m not going to go to every single page to see what I might have missed.

Something else I realized these last few days – since I wasn’t using Facebook as a social outlet, I got more things done at home.  I cleaned more.  I painted.  I read.  Even when I don’t comment on things, I avidly read what comes across my feed.  I can spend hours and hours just reading Facebook.  This week, to help keep myself from posting, I haven’t been reading as much.  And that has meant that I have had more time to do other things.  I have thrown away things, put away things, decided to discard things.  I’ve researched, written – in general, I have accomplished more in this last week than I have in a while – and mainly because I haven’t been glued to my computer all evening.

So, this experiment of going dark has taught me a couple of things – that I am almost dependent on Facebook for my social interaction.  And with less Facebook, I got more things done at home. This experiment has also made me wonder how observant I am of my Facebook friends.  How many times have I not noticed when someone simply quit posting from Facebook?  And what would do if I did notice someone’s absence?

And did anyone of my 491 Facebook friends notice that I was no longer posting or commenting on things?  One person private messaged me on January 5th.  Another person private messaged me on January 7th.  Both of them had noticed my absence from Facebook, and asked me if I was alright.

But this experiment also taught me how solitary I really am.  If something were to happen to me – if I ever fell and hurt myself, had a stroke, whatever – it would be days before anyone came to check.

 

I would rather help someone who didn’t need it…

This Christmas is my first Christmas without my father.  In fact, since my mother died several years ago, this is my first Christmas as an orphan.  An adult, but orphan nonetheless.

Over the last few days, I have shared some of my memories of my father.  Some of them have been in speech conversation, others in online conversation.

One memory was sparked when someone mentioned that they had seen cars at a free toy giveaway that were much newer and better than their own car.  The person who commented is a hard worker, and disapproved of people who in his opinion, based on the car they were driving, did not need free handouts.  The resulting conversation reminded me of something my father said to me.

My father and I had been in a discussion of welfare, Obamacare, and people who beg and ask for handouts.   Part of the conversation involved a description of a man who was panhandling locally.  People had posted about him, and had said that this person was a scam, had been offered work, had turned it down, had declared that he would rather beg than work, etc.

My dad said something that I basically already lived by, but had not, until this conversation, realized where I had acquired this attitude.  He said

“I would rather help someone who does not need it than not help someone who does.”

Read that again.

“I would rather help someone who does not need it than not help someone who does.”

That was my dad.  That was part of his life philosophy.  Read it again.

“I would rather help someone who does not need it than not help someone who does.”

Now think for just a moment.

What would the world be like if everyone had that attitude?

“I would rather help someone who does not need it than not help someone who does.”

 

 

Word Etymology and Historical Misinformation

I have been pondering something for a few days now.  I have decided that I need to write about it.

During the month of October, I work at what has been ranked as the best pumpkin patch in Arkansas, (at least by some people and organizations) Arkansas Frontier Living History Pumpkin Patch.

I am in charge of “Indian Village” me-and-the-skins-at-ar-frontier

One of the things that I always tell my audiences when I am presenting is that while the family history is that my Grandmother’s grandmother was native American (Grandma thought Cherokee or possibly Choctaw, but didn’t know for sure) I am not culturally native American.  I tell them that I have learned from books, from taking seminars put on by the American Indian Studies department of a southern California college, and from people who are culturally native American.

Over the course of the four years that I have worked at the pumpkin patch, I have learned a few things from people who are more in the tradition and culture than I am.

A few days ago, one of our visitors, “Linda” was from Oklahoma.  She was  visiting family here in AR, and one of her relatives was on a school visit to the pumpkin patch.  After the school went on to their next activity, she lingered to talk to me.

When I was a baby, my dad carried me around town and the local college in a “Papoose carrier”, as he put it.  I share this with the students as being the closest that I come to the native American culture.  Linda suggested that I use the term “cradle board”   rather than “papoose carrier”.  She told me that “papoose” is not the best word to use.

I asked why.  She told me that “papoose” was the white man’s word, and it is better not to be used.

She went on to say that I should never ever use the word “squaw”.  Now, while I had heard that the term squaw was sometimes used in a derogatory way – indicating someone who was not married, only living with someone, I had not heard of it being a word with such negativity as she seemed to indicate.  Again, I asked about it.

She told me that the word “squaw” came from the “squalling of women while they were being raped by white soldiers and traders.”

Now, I absolutely had never heard of this.  When I got home, I started to do a little research.

I’ll start with “Papoose”.  Papoose is an English loanword.  What is a loanword?  It is a foreign word that enters the English language with little or no modification or change in either the spelling or the meaning.  Some examples found in English include “Faux Pas” – French;  “Kitschy” – German; “Modus Operandi” – Latin; “Taco” – Spanish; “Samurai” – Japenese; “Prima donna” – Italian; and “Alter ego” – Latin, to name just a few.

In the case of the word “Papoose”, its origins are said to be Algonquian.  Specifically from the Narragansett tribe.  It was first recorded by Roger Williams.  He wrote a book, A Key Into the Language of America, published in 1643.  On page 28 he lists the word “papoos” as meaning “a childe” and he lists “Nippapoos” as “my childe.”

So, the idea that the word “papoose” is a white man’s word?  About the only thing that has changed is the addition of an “e” at the end of the word.

Today?  The word is also used to mean a “child carrier”.  And for some, it is considered a derogatory term, according to at least one of the sites I looked at.  No explanation was given for why some consider it derogatory.  Perhaps because it is now believed that it was a “white man’s word,” as Linda believed.

The term ‘squaw’ is much the same.  It is another loanword. There is nothing in the word etymology history that indicates the term came from squalling women who were being raped, as I was told by that very sincere lady from Oklahoma.  Again, Roger Williams records, on page 138, that ‘Segousquaw’ is a ‘widdow’, and on page 27, ‘Squaws-suck’  is ‘woman-women’.

This is a reference a hundred years and more before the time period that Linda referenced.

As I was doing more research, I ran across a wonderful essay, Reclaiming the Word “Squaw” in the Name of the Ancestors, by Marge Bruchac.  It may be found on the nativeweb site, at http://www.nativeweb.org//pages/legal/squaw.html  In this essay, she includes the history of the word, variants, history of the introduction to the English language, and more.  I encourage you to read it.

In the process of researching, study, reading, I have come to a conclusion that disturbs me a great deal.  The history and culture of native Americans – First Nations, as they are being called in some areas – is being wrongly taught – by the native Americans themselves.

Linda was very sincere in her belief that the word “squaw” came from the squalling of women being raped, that it was a white man’s word, a derogatory word.  She had been taught that.  She is teaching that to others.  And – she is wrong.  The word “squaw” was never a white man’s word.  Was never, at least originally, derogatory.  And certainly did not come from the cries of women being abused and raped.

So, what does this mean?

A generation or more of people are being taught their own history – wrong.  The implications of this are staggering.

If you believe that something was done as a result of rape, if you believe that anytime you hear a certain word, it is meant as an insult, how easy will it be for you to work out problems with the people using that word?  And what if they have no idea that that word is considered derogatory?  Although I have not used the word in my presentations, I certainly had no idea that the word “squaw” had such a negative emotional impact until Linda told me.  And that emotional impact is an impact that should never have happened. If history had been taught accurately, if additions had not been added, the word ‘squaw’ would be respected for its true meaning.

People who already believe the worst will find it harder to find common ground, to work together, to understand each other.  And being taught a false history will make it more likely that the worst is believed.

How much of this erroneous teaching is politically motivated?  How much simply accidental misinterpretation?  How much is deliberate?

I don’t know.

I do know that I have begun to wonder how much of the history that I have been taught has been full of misinformation.  How many of the things that I think of as fact, are actually false teachings, perpetuated year after year. And have I, all unknowingly, taught others false history?

I hope not.  But that is one of the reasons why I research, study, and read.  I hope others will study history, as well.

If there are lies in what we are taught, we need to search them out and make them known.  We do not need to perpetuate lies and call it history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting away from it all!

So, I have this professional development workshop tomorrow.  I fully plan on enjoying it – it is on folk music and education, and since I do arts integrated programs in schools, and I incorporate folk music into them, this was something that I really wanted.  Best of all, this collaboration between the Arkansas Arts Council and the Arkansas Dept. of Education meant that this PD gives me double credit, both as an Arkansas Arts in Education artist, and a person with a valid teacher’s licence that has to have so many PD hours a year to renew.

Now, this PD was of even more interest to me because of the location – the Ozark Folk Center.  I love the Folk center.  If I was independently wealthy, I would spend a lot of time there.  I would take a dozen workshops a year there.  I would buy an RV and virtually live in the next door RV park.  I actually worked there for one season, as one of their day musicians.  I was also on the list of square dancers and even performed a couple of times in their evening programs.

So when I learned the location of this workshop, I was faced with a choice:  Get up really, really early Monday morning and make the 1 1/2 – 2 hour drive (depending on route, weather, and traffic) or come in Sunday and camp at my favorite campground in the area.

That would be the aforementioned RV park.  Ozark RV park is literally next door to the folk center.  I mean, you walk through a gate, and you are right there.

My mom and I discovered the place years and years ago.  For a short time, we did craft fairs together.  We were doing a fair that was taking place at the Ozark Folk Center.  Mom and Dad had an rv, and mom and I were going to take the rv up, camp out in it, and do the craft fair.  When we found that the Ozark RV Park was right next door, that was where we went.

What a wonderful place.  Friendly people.  Clean bath houses.  And high quality toilet paper.  I mean, better toliet paper than I usually see in Hilton’s.  We only stayed a couple of days, but I never forgot it.  And years later, when I worked that one season at the Ozark Folk Center, I called them up and asked them if they did tent camping as well as RVs.  Well, they did.  So every weekend I worked at the Center that summer, I camped next door.

So, what did I do for this workshop?  Hauled out my tent, and set it up next door.

The impetus for me writing this post was the feeling of comfort and relaxation that I just experienced.  Although the office was closed by the time I got here, I had plenty of time to set up my tent during the light.  Then I went into town to buy ice.  I could have gotten ice from the cooler here and paid for it tomorrow – this is that type of RV park – but I elected to just go on and buy one in town.  Came back, sat down outside my tent, ate my ham and cheese wrap that I had made.  And then I just sat down and played my dulcimer a little while in the dark.  All around me was the sound of crickets and cicadas.  The occasional night-bird called.  And as I sat in the evening coolness, in the night, I felt – calm.  At peace.  Comforted.

I am under a lot of stress, financial, grief, frustration, job (lack of).  But at that moment, everything was perfect.   For just that moment, I had gotten away from it all.  I was content with who I am and where I was.

So I left that perfection to come find electricity to type a blog post.  I wanted to share that moment of peace with anyone who reads this.  And I want to encourage you to get away from it all, even if it is just for a day.  Find a place, a moment of peace and contentment, and soak it up.

And I’m going back to that peace in a few minutes.

And I want to encourage anyone coming up to the Folk Center, if you want to camp or bring an rv, try the Ozark RV Park.  It’s a wonderful place.

 

We are all brothers

I have been looking at the issues of both the world and the US with a bit of frustration, worry, and fear.  It seems as if everyone is so polarized – so intent that their way is the only way, that they refuse to even consider finding a middle ground, finding a compromise that benefits everyone, even if nobody gets ALL of what they want.  America has become a land of the self-centered and selfish.  “I want it MY way, and if I can’t have it MY way, I’m going to make sure you don’t get anything YOUR way.  It is MY way or nothing!” is the message that a lot of today’s politicians and/or their followers seem to be saying.

And racial violence seems to be on the upswing; obvious incidences of prejudice and bias are apparent.  And unfortunately, the reaction to those incidences seems to mainly be more violence, which leads only to worsening conditions.

I was going through some old documents today, and ran across something that I wrote a couple of years ago.  I want to share it…

We Are Brothers
by
Melinda LaFevers
6/19/2014
inspired by “We are Africa” as performed by Foreign Tongues

When God knelt down in the dirt
and scooped up that ball of clay,
He rolled it and shaped it and formed it,
In His own image.
He breathed life into it and called it “Man.”
The Good Book doesn’t say He made a black man,
It doesn’t say he made a white man.
Or yellow or red or blue or green or orange or purple.
It just says he made man – and it was Good.

No one knows when the division of color came.
Perhaps, as people moved north and the days grew colder,
the longer nights and shorter days bleached out the colors.
Some people say it was the Mark of Cain
that separated the colors of man.
Science has proven that all women
came from one woman,
Deep dark in Africa.
Doesn’t matter what race, what color –
All women carry that same genetic marker,
making us all sisters with the same mother –
Eve, birthing the world in the cradle of life.
So once we were all dusky brown, chocolate, dark –
I’ve wondered if that mark of Cain
was the bleaching of his skin.

But still, white, black, brown, red, yellow –
Languages were the same.
Until man, working together as brothers,
built that tower to the heavens,
and God, looking down, stirred the people
and created a babble of voices.
That, then, truly separated the nations from each other.
Each went their own way, growing apart,
forgetting who we were, where we came from,
the fact that once we were ALL brothers.

And the years and centuries passed.
Mankind warred against mankind;
Put chains on each other.
Your ancestors wore chains.
My ancestors wore chains.
Not just our ancestors wore chains.
You wear chains. I wear chains.
Some of those chains are visible.
Some are unseen – but those unseen chains
wear men down just as much as heavy links of iron.
Ignorance, poverty, abuse –
Those chains know no boundaries.
They come to every man – red, yellow, black, white, brown.
Faces pinched with hunger look with hopelessness
at barren lives
And Death in the form of drugs, alcohol and violence
too often looks back.

The only way to defeat that death,
to break those chains of despair,
to bring All men to freedom
The freedom of love, of Hope, of a future…
The only way to break chains of
the past and present
is to remember
that you
that I

that WE are all brothers.