My daughter has the singular talent of lifting me up to the stratosphere with joy or slamming me down to the depths of hell. She has this most frustrating habit of dropping some kind of bomb shell on me and then going off the grid for days or even weeks, no answering text messages, the phone, doesn’t respond to messages left asking her to call me.
Sometimes I get so aggravated that I want to buy a plane ticket just so I can fly up to Boston and choke her until her eyes pop out. Her latest bomb shell was a text message informing me that she got a bad result on a mammogram. No stress there, hah! I immediately tried to contact her. Finally, after a week of sleepless nights and stressed out days, I managed to get through the Great Barrier Reef she erected and talk to her.
She was pretty stressed out and explained that she tends to hide when something bad happens. I know the feeling and will try to remember that the next time I isolate because someone or something is bothering me. The not knowing what is going on is sometimes a lot worse than the actual facts of a matter.
I tried to explain to her that it was probably just a cyst because she is prone to those. When she was a kid she used to get what we refer to in the south as bible bumps on the topside of her wrist. The word bible comes into play is because the cure was to whack the bump with the family bible which burst the cyst and it is reabsorbed by the body. It sounds gruesome but really isn’t that painful. I didn’t do that though. She got those several times and always cured herself accidentally by flailing her arms around and whacking her wrist on a door jamb or table edge. She’s very dramatic and waves her arms around when she talks.
So she is supposed to go get a biopsy this week on the contrary lump in her breast. I hope and pray that it is nothing. But, I can’t help but be terrified. She’s my baby girl after all, even though she’s 40 years old. I don’t want her to suffer and be frightened, but she is and there is nothing much I can do except talk to her and be there for her when she needs me.
I’ve been rather mute the last few days because I’ve been glued to the television staring in shock and horror as this whole Boston bombing thing unfolds. I finally managed to unplug from it a little, but not completely. The same way I did when 9/11 happened. Sitting here weeping and wringing my hands is not solving anything and it just gets me worked up into froth of rage, confusion and sorrow.
This morning I was reading comments on the CNN blog page and one caught my attention. One poster said “…Freedom of Religion does NOT give religious institutions the right to preach hatred & intolerance.” I think I have to agree with this person. It’s similar to the conundrum of – does freedom of speech give one the right to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater, causing people to get trampled to death in the ensuing panic?
I keep staring at the picture of this young boy, the surviving brother. He looks so innocent that it brings tears to my eyes. I know you can’t tell just by looking at someone what they are capable of doing, but I can’t help but wonder – what happened? He could easily have been any young boy I know and love, a son, a nephew, a grandson, the child of a friend. Young men and boys are so incredibly gullible. Ask anyone who knows one and they know this is true. Who or what turned this boy into a killing machine?
I am not in any way defending him, or forgiving or condoning his actions. He will have to stand and face the consequences of his actions no matter how misguided they were – before country and his God, whoever that may be. But I am still bereft of understanding. What brought this boy to these unspeakable actions? I can’t or perhaps do not want to logically believe that uninfluenced he would have committed these heinous acts.
Another thing that totally flummoxes me is why, if America is such a horrible, heathen, decadent country, do millions of people risk everything including their lives to come here? We shelter everyone here and many of us do not even have a say in that. This boy’s family came here for political asylum. Unfortunately, they did not come here for religious asylum. We take our freedom seriously here in the U.S. and based on that we inadvertently harbor, succor and educate some of the very people who hate us and want us dead.
So about this boy and his legacy; it makes me stop and think, what are we teaching our children? I think our overzealous quest for religious freedom in the U.S. has put blinders on teaching our children the basics. Many schools do not have anything in the curriculum that addresses morality or ethics – right vs. wrong. The only place our children may hear this at all is on their parent’s knee.
We’ve dropped the ball here. I don’t think teaching children to respect the rights of others, to exercise tolerance, to do onto others as you would have them do unto you, to not be the first one to throw the stone, is a religious issue at all. It’s a human issue. We have never needed this more than we need it right now. We need to step up to the plate and seriously teach our children our beliefs in our schools, churches, and at the dinner table. If we do not we create a vacuum and get left in the dust by those who do pass on their own “religious” beliefs of hatred and intolerance.
One if by land and two if by sea, and I on the opposite shore shall be.
Ready to ride and spread the alarm to every Middlesex, village and farm. Paul Revere’s Ride
OK, folks, this is getting down right ridiculous. What the hell is wrong with people? It’s weird how in a New York second your whole life is balanced on the head of a pin. Bombs going off at the Boston Marathon finish line. What the hell?
My heart leapt to my throat because my daughter lives in Boston and goes to watch the marathon every year. She goes early to camp near the finish line and takes the kids and a cooler with sodas and makes it a FAMILY DAY.
It was also Patriot’s Day which is a huge celebration in Boston and most of New England. A big tourist activity in Boston especially for history buffs, is walking the Freedom Trail. It’s an actual painted line on the sidewalk that you start to follow at Faneuil Hall, walk by Paul Revere’s workshop, the old North Church, and ends at the ship yard to go aboard Old Ironsides, the oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat. The thing that struck me the most about this ship is that the floor was painted dark red to mask the blood and not scare the young boys that scampered around helping the men load and shoot the canons.
After my daughter heard that the bombs went off, she texted me to tell me that she didn’t go. She told me that for some reason at the last-minute, all of the sudden she felt “too tired” to go. Her angel was watching over her shoulder yesterday. I have never been so happy to receive a text message in my life.
I was off course hugely relieved, but then I felt guilty and burst into tears. Of all the thousands of people there who could have been killed or injured I’m relieved that my baby girl is OK. But that’s a normal reaction. The heart goes immediately to loved ones in a disaster. All other superfluous thoughts fly right out the window.
My mind drifted back to conversations I used to have with a charismatic Priest in New Orleans, Father Mark. He told me that the biggest lie perpetrated in the 20th century is that there is no such thing as good vs. evil. Frequently when perpetrators are interviewed about heinous acts, they don’t really remember nor have a “logical” answer as to why they did what they did. Or they say someone in their head told them to do it. That right there is evil in action.
The first thing I pray for is the victims of evil acts. The second is asking for understanding and compassion. What possesses someone to commit a premeditated act of violence? Father Mark told me that people are not so much possessed by evil like in that movie The Exorcist, but influenced by evil. In a world where we are led to believe that it’s OK to do whatever what we want to get what we want regardless of the cost to others, this makes sense to me.
At least it gives me something to hold on to in times of senseless violence and depravity. Another thought that comes to me is the Bible quote “vengeance is mine – sayeth the Lord.” So much violence is perpetrated as revenge for a real or perceived wrong done to a person or culture. It’s so sad. Violence begets violence. It makes me stop and question my motives when I’m nursing a grievance against someone for whatever reason, real or imagined.
Maybe it’s time for the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of the world to pull another strike like in the ancient play, Lysistrata written by Aristophanes. The play is about a group of women who were sick and tired of their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons constantly waging war and getting themselves killed.
Via Wikipedia: Originally performed in classical Athens in 411 BC, it is a comic account of one woman’s extraordinary mission to end The Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata persuades the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace — a strategy, however, that inflames the battle between the sexes. The play is notable for being an early exposé of sexual relations in a male-dominated society.
If you get a good translation of that play it’s one of the funniest things you’ll ever read in your life. But, it’s also a good example of the adage; desperate times call for desperate measures.
We women are not blameless either though. When we repeat a hurtful tidbit of gossip, exclude someone because we think they “are not good enough” to be part of our little clique, or urge our men to violence, we are part of the problem.
So back to the Boston Bombing. Will we ever know exactly why it happened or who is really behind it? I’m sure we’ll come up with a suspect to nail to the town wall, someone for us all to use as a target for outrage, indignation and a blood thirsty desire for vengeance. Who knows, maybe we need another trip through the sixties where the motto among the “hippies” of that time was “make love not war.”
In my opinion, the best vengeance for Americans is to continue to live out our rare and precious freedom and not cower in our homes in fear. The next time I attend a large public gathering will I feel a bit of fear? Probably yes. Will I let that fear conquer me and stay home? I certainly hope not.
I hereby for-with, do formally and unequivocally grant myself the right to be silly. Life is just too short. My days of jumping through hoops is about to come to a screeching halt. “What will people think?” has got to be the most insidious mind control twist ever. I don’t know what will people think? That I had a good time? That I’m certifiable, call the padded van? Don’t know, don’t care.
Who is this “they” that we all worry about. I think women especially are raised to have this internal sensor switched on in high gear. “Oh if you do that, people won’t think you’re a nice girl.” After 55 years hanging around the old planetary water cooler I have yet to hear even a second-hand tale of anyone who got any benefit from that kind of “niceness.” The nice that you are when you allow others to take credit for your accomplishments. This nice you are not when you refuse to do someone’s work for them while they goof off. Nice girls don’t get angry, Nice girls don’t stand up for themselves. If you were my friend you would…wash my car for me, babysit my cat for 3 months, drive in the middle of the night to come to my house and scratch my left eyebrow.
It’s amazing what people will expect you to do. And are shocked when you don’t go along with the plan. One time my daughter and I were on a train in Boston, chatting away, people watching and just in general having a good time. A woman who was financially endowed, shall we say, climbed on the train. She was fur clad, dripping with jewelry, hair shellacked into some kind of blond helmet. In each hand was huge handful of Neiman Marcus and Sax Fifth Avenue shopping bags. She looked around, walked down the aisle, stood over me and said “get up, I want your seat.” No please or anything. This woman was not much older than me and certainly not in the category of ‘be nice and give the elderly person your seat.’ Something about having my daughter with me made me think carefully about my answer. The last thing I wanted to do was set the example of a wishy washy scullery maid. Finally I looked at this woman, smiled a big smile and and “no, thank you.” She stomped her foot in an immature mini tantrum and walked off down the train. Maybe she bullied someone else out of their seat. I didn’t look to see. It was something about her sense of entitlement that just galled me.
When I travel I love to be open, ask dumb questions, pretend to not read the signs. There is no way you can pass yourself, as a local so why try? I talked at the JFK memorial and got scolded by a guard. I leaned too far over to see a Faberge Egg and set off the alarm. I lost my day pass at the Imperial Gardens in Tokyo and almost caused an international tourism incident. I laughed at the appetizer at a snooty hotel in Hong Kong. It was chunks of tofu with hotdog relish. Charging $20 for it didn’t make it a bit more sophisticated. I send my food back if it’s horrible. I climbed up the Statue of Liberty with a silly green crown hat on. I eat food from street vendors and don’t care if it dribbles on my clothes.
When I got older I’m going to enjoy that too. My walker will be metallic pink with racing stripes and a bicycle bell. I’m also going to refuse to wear a hearing aid but instead use an ear horn and crack up laughing at people trying to shout down it. I will still pretend to not understand and do as I please. Life is to be lived, loved and enjoyed. This is not a dress rehearsal, folks.