Tag Archives: reflections

In My Lifetime…

8 Jan

One of my heroes!

In my lifetime, I have seen the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the start of the Vietnam War.  I remember watching on our black and white television the killing of 4 college students and the wounding of 9 others at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard.  I witnessed the resignation of Richard Nixon, minutes before he would have been impeached. Presidents Ford and Reagan both survived assasination attempts, Reagan just barely. Ironically, the attempt on Reagan led to the Brady bill and some real, rational progress on gun control.

Fortunately, I also witnessed Roe v. Wade.  Finally, women were told by the U.S. Supreme Court they could be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies–what a novel idea. To be gay and to have been alive during the Stonewall Riots feels like a gift from history now. Through Affirmative Action and social pressure and protest the face of corporate and government leadership is much more diverse than it was when I was born, though we still have a long way to go.

I have seen the boom of space exploration, starting in my lifetime with the 1969 Apollo moon landing. Who would have imagined an international space station? The entire space shuttle program went from planning to launch to being grounded in my lifetime. I remember the excitement of each launch and the shock and disbelief that met the tragic fates of the Challenger and the Columbia.

Of course, the events of 9/11 forever changed the world and helped to give George W. the amplified tool of fear.  While we saw the world come together as a united globe for a couple of days, the legacy of 9/11 seems to be fear, and the vilification of Muslims.

Technology has changed in ways that make our lives almost unrecognizable. I remember the our very first microwave oven when I was in high school and the very first time I saw color television. Many people today carry more computing power in their telephones than existed in a typical business when I started grade school. The Internet has totally changed commerce, government, journalism, and social interaction, for better or for worse. Computing power and quick connections can be useful, but they also lead to snap judgments and a sense of urgency that impairs our better selves.

While I have witnessed a great deal in a relatively short period of time, I do worry about our country going exponentially backwards regarding civil rights and liberties.  The rise of the Tea Party and the blatant racism we have seen since President Obama took office have been mortifying.  Watching the GOP presidential candidates often shoves me into a dark and misanthropic abyss.  Where are the voices of the progressive movement? Why do we vilify the Occupy Movement? When do we take our country back from the religious right hypocrites?

Action item: We have the ability to move forward. We have the ability to change systems and end the intersections of oppression.  We have to get out and use our voices and we have to VOTE!

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Wednesday Word of the Week, November 23: Thankful

23 Nov

A thankful WebWordWarrior

This week’s word is THANKFUL

grateful for something; showing or feeling gratitude

This is the week that has traditionally kicked off the U.S. holiday season (until plastic Santas started showing up in stores mid-October). The Thanksgiving I remember from my childhood was one of joy and celebration, good feasting, family gathering, and none of the pressure that the gift-oriented holidays and occasions can bring. That sense of togetherness and a pause in the routine of the week made it easy to feel thankful.

It is a testament to both the OBSTINANCE

resolute adherence to your own ideas or desires

and the OPTIMISM

a general disposition to expect the best in all things

of the American people that we managed to take a mythical event that over-glamorizes the relationship between established indigenous peoples and genocidal religious fanatics and turn it into a celebration that has real meaning. Let us take this opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving as it ought to be celebrated, not as a gluttonous lead-in to crass consumerism, but as a real opportunity to pause, gather, and reflect.

Everyone has something in their life for which they should be grateful. Let us try, without cynicism (which is understandably easy today), to hold those things foremost in our minds. I suspect that for most of us, our thankful list includes people who give our lives meaning. Let us take the time to tell those people that we are thankful.

It is in that spirit that I want to offer my thanks to you, my loyal readers. This is a bittersweet Word of the Week for me, because complications in my crazy life will require me to discontinue this series, at least for now. I truly appreciate all the visitors to my weekly ponderings and the delightful comments that many of you have made.

More significantly, I am thankful for Michael Hulshof-Schmidt and The Solipsistic Me. My participation in this wonderful blog has been a delight and sometimes a salvation for me during a tumultuous 2011. Michael, his husband Robert, and I have all celebrated TSM on its anniversary, so I will not repeat those observations here. Suffice it to say that this is one of the brightest spots on the Internet; I have been privileged to participate in it. I hope that all of you are thankful for the time and effort Michael puts into helping us all work harder to make the world a better place. I shall visit regularly to read for inspiration, comment as I have insight to share, and post as my time permits.

In the meantime, let me close with a sincere paraphrase of Jack McFarland from Will and Grace, “All right. What am I thankful for? So many things, really. The smell of jasmine… A kitten’s purr… InStyle magazine… The Solipsistic Me…”

Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving!

All definitions courtesy of Macmillan Dictionary Online, a source for which I am regularly thankful.

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