Monday, November 30, 2020

Elegy Written In My Study

My father (z'l) was a writer, an artist, and a lover of British poetry. He could recite, at will, any number of really obscure stanzas. We used to play a game: Name That Poem. I never won. No matter what line I started, he finished. I once played the scene from FINDING FORRESTER where Jamal finishes whatever quote Professor Crawford begins. When he stopped laughing, he asked, "Was someone hanging around your room in Bellmore?" Only he was Jamal and I was Crawford. Not that I minded much; my job was to find really obscure stuff and stump him...which rarely happened.

When he was slowly sliding away from us, I spent a fair amount of time at his bedside reading Tehillim (The Book of Psalms) and poems in his most precious book: An Anthology of English Literature. In the corner of the interior cover, written with a fountain pen (you can tell) in the teeny, tiny precise penmanship that never changed in all those years, was the following

Sidney B. Schwaidelson
338 Starr St.

Feb 1937

In the lower left corner of the flyleaf was the following written some 10 months later:

whatever the cause! 'Tis lost 'tis o'er
   What matters reason's queries then?
A dream has gone - and is no more:
   'Tis not to cry, to hope - 'tis done.
                                sbs  12/1/37

He said it was about a girl he was trying to date, but broke up with him after one date. He claimed he couldn't remember which one. "There was so many girls who didn't wanna date me because I was short."  Note the date. 83 years ago tomorrow. Also note, that means Dad was 16 years old his freshman year. Short? Nah? He was jailbait!

Growing up, I knew this was an important book. Dad read from it a lot. He, who prided himself on make-up stories (and they were great) read poems to me from this book. This book was so important I made him a felt bookmark for Father's Day for this book. As I got older, he would leave slips of paper in the book for me to find poems that required dissection and discussion. Stuff he was pretty sure I wasn't getting in school, and knew my British grandmother would expect me to mention and discuss at the drop of an opening line. He was right, of course. She would quiz me on what I'd read most recently from the book. She and my dad were always thrilled if I memorized something. It could be Keats or Shelley, Wordsworth or Browning. Didn't much matter. If you gently flip the pages, you can find little notes to himself and questions needing answers. Yes, he wrote in his college textbook....but who didn't? Meanwhile, despite hundreds of poems in the book, the brown felt bookmark always marked the page where Thomas Gray's Elegy could be found.

On that last day, I read him one of his absolute favorites aloud: Tennyson's The Charge of the Light Brigade. I was leaning close to his ear as I read, and when I got to the last line, Honour the Light Brigade. Noble six hundred!  he smiled....and nodded....and checked out again. I sat there for a moment thinking about what to read next. 

This morning, my brother, my sons, and one of my cousins joined me at morning minyan to mark Dad's 5th yahrzeit. Zoom made it possible since we are still not coming together in person as a congregation. But that was okay especially this morning. We were not alone. Dad would've marveled at the technology, and enjoyed that we were gathered at minyan. 

So, in remembering my poetry-loving Dad - may his memory forever be for a blessing - here is the last poem I read to him on that last evening: the one he loved best...even if it was in a churchyard. 

        Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
         The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
         And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimm'ring landscape on the sight,
         And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
         And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r
         The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such, as wand'ring near her secret bow'r,
         Molest her ancient solitary reign.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
         Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
         The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
         The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
         No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
         Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
         Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.

Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
         Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
         How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
         Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
         The short and simple annals of the poor.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
         And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour.
         The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
         If Mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where thro' the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
         The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

Can storied urn or animated bust
         Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
         Or Flatt'ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
         Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
         Or wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre.

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
         Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,
         And froze the genial current of the soul.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
         The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flow'r is born to blush unseen,
         And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
         The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
         Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.

Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
         The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
         And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes,

Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone
         Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd;
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
         And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
         To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
         With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
         Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
         They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect,
         Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
         Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd muse,
         The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
         That teach the rustic moralist to die.

For who to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
         This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
         Nor cast one longing, ling'ring look behind?

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
         Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
         Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires.

For thee, who mindful of th' unhonour'd Dead
         Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
         Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,

Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
         "Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
         To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.

"There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
         That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
         And pore upon the brook that babbles by.

"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
         Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove,
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
         Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.

"One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
         Along the heath and near his fav'rite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
         Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;

"The next with dirges due in sad array
         Slow thro' the church-way path we saw him borne.
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay,
         Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."

Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
       A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,
       And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
       Heav'n did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Mis'ry all he had, a tear,
       He gain'd from Heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,
       Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose)
       The bosom of his Father and his God.

I put the book down, walked Mom down the hall to the dining room, and returned to Dad's bedside, just in time to watch his last breath leave his body.  I knew he had gone to join the others at Aunt Ruthie's, and I knew he would tell Grandma I read him poetry. I was okay with that. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Should you ever find yourself in England
and you're looking for a lovely day trip,
head up the Thames and make a stop
at Stoke Poges. 
The churchyard is still there.
The picture I took for my Dad. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

To Boldly NOT Go.....

One of the perks of having a creative child is that every so often, he or she will use people he or she knows in that art. This was my week. The Senior Son put me on the bridge of the starship Beit Ya'akov, a veritable dream come true. Let me give you some background.

As a kid, he was big on imaginative role playing with his friends...only they weren't doing Dungeons and Dragons, they built a starship in our basement. NCC-1702, the Beit Ya'akov, was named for our shul, a/k/a the known center of the social universe. The role leaked upstairs one year in the form of a role playing game from a box followed by a formal birthday dinner with Romulan Ale (blue food coloring in Pepsi Clear...don't ask,) roasted Rock Klingon Hens with Wild Terran stuffing, and assorted other dishes served on snowy damask table linen, fine china, with sterling flatware and crystal goblets, and me in a cockamamie hat posing as Guinan running Ten-Forward. (Mothers would later tell me they hated me because now their guys wanted formal dinner birthday parties. It was such a totally fun night and I am forever glad that I did it.)

That starship stayed in the basement even after they left for college. During vacations, that was where the gang would congregate. I loved the sound of their laughter wafting up the stairs. One of the last times it was in use was while we were sitting shiva for Ziggy. One of the "crew" had driven the Senior Son home for the funeral, and would stay at his folks until Senior Son was ready to go back to Milwaukee. The other crew mates all showed up for the evening shiva minyanim. And afterwards, when the crowd would thin, they would eat the rest of whatever was on the kitchen counter (including an entire Byerly's giant fruit platter!) before they went downstairs to sit on the ship. When the time came to clean out the basement because I was selling the house, I looked at all those surviving boxes, some of which were labeled with departments, conn designations, and a lot of bad spelling in very childish handwriting. The inevitable demise of NCC-1702 broke my heart. For almost 20 years it had a DO NOT TOUCH kinda sign on it, and we respected that. This was their place. It was where they talked about stuff, where they transitioned from boys to teenagers to men. In so many ways, it was sacred space.

But the Beit Ya'akov would never really go away. These days, it's a modeling exercise for the Senior Son's work in animation. He shoots over slides and I love every one of them. The original guys are seeing them, too, and occasionally appear as crewmen. The original crew has remained close. I marvel at their adult selves and how the sound of their grown-up laughter echoes the sounds of the kids in the basement. They're all pushing 40 now, but they still laugh a lot. On the rare occasions they are all in town together, they have been known to gather in my new kitchen while I go hide upstairs where I can still hear their laughter wafting up the stairs. I take great comfort in that sound. 

This Thanksgiving, as everyone who isn't under a rock already knows, will be different. Families are not gathering, friends are not gathering, and the guys are not gathering. We are all making choices not just for ourselves, but for those around us. These are not easy decisions, and some are painful beyond reason. But more painful would be to know that, in the weeks following the holiday, you were the COVID spreader. No one wants that designation. 

As a parent, I have made decisions that even I did not like. There were times I desperately wanted to say YES, but knew the answer had to be NO. Ziggy and I would talk long into the night about some of those decisions, working hard to see if a YES was remotely possible. The boys will tell you, even today, my favorite expression about big stuff is "Do Your Homework." I am thrilled no end when in conversation it comes out that extensive homework was done in the process of making a major decision. Doesn't matter what it's for....I love that I had a hand in teaching them process

Process is what we are faced with as a nation. The pandemic has not slowed, in fact, it has ramped up. Hospitals and frontline workers are gearing up for a massive increase in infection and hospitalization in the weeks following Thanksgiving. If you have been following the science, you know there will be increased spread after this weekend. It's inevitable because people will make choices based on their emotions instead of the reality of contagion. The process has to be voluntary adoption of measures to stop the spread. No one can force someone to wear a mask or social distance, but those of us who do must continue to set the example. 

It's Monday night and I still have no idea what is going to happen on Thursday, and whatever does happen, it'll be fine. I am part of a small family pod because I nanny for the kiddos, so I am not totally alone. Am I joining Junior Son et al for turkey, I don't know; we haven't come to an official decision yet. But I know Shabbat Thanksgiving will be here like it should be. Getting together with this crew is not a grand occasion; it's normal. It would be more normal if Mr. and Mrs. Senior Son could come in more often, but right now, Mrs. Senior Son is, thank G-d, on the recovery side of COVID-19. When things flatten out, they'll be here again...and the kiddos will be jumping all over them as soon as possible. But the spread of COVID-19 must be contained before that's going to happen. 

In the big picture, I know how fortunate I am. No two ways about it. We are all setting the example for how to be safe. We can only hope others catch on before they come to understand it the hard way.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Encourage their dreams.

We got an artist and a mechanical engineer outta the deal.

No complaints here.   

Monday, November 16, 2020

Time For A Reality Check

The next wave of COVID-19 is upon us, and America faces a very different holiday season. We Jews have already faced our own pandemic holidays and we kinda know what they are like, what to expect, and how to shoulder through. The rest of the country has only had a taste of that kind of isolation and in limited quantities. Let me assure you, Passover with zoom seders was a challenge. Same thing for Rosh HaShanna and especially break-the-fast for Yom Kippur. Every Jewish holy day is centered pretty much around the concept something happened, we prevailed, let's eat. Any excuse to gather around an overcrowded dinner table is a good excuse. Or, rather, it was a good excuse. Not so much lately.

I would like to say something encouraging to all the gentile readers who are first encountering their less-than-full dinner tables, but there really isn't much to say except staying home and apart won't kill you. 

Gathering, on the other hand, might. 

Covid hot spots 11/16/2020
I am astounded by the pushback about sheltering at home and avoiding groups. A whole lotta imagination isn't required to understand the maps and charts showing the spread of a virus. Nor does it take all that much critical thinking to figure out that while lots of people survive the virus with little more than flu-like systems, other people are felled like spruce trees on a Christmas farm. Sure, they look real good standing up, but once they're down, they struggle to breathe until they die.

But then again, that might interfere with the annual tryptophan coma. 

Look at it this way: seatbelts are the law, so if you're caught without one on, you get a ticket. Refusing to buckle up a plane can get you bounced off. Babies and little kids are strapped into government evaluated car seats to protect them in crashes. Those same kids are taught at an early age to wear helmets on their bikes, and for the most part, they do that automatically. Wearing a helmet on a motorcycle is mandatory but lots of people choose not to wear one..and die if they fall off. Statistics support the research that these things save lives. If you choose to ignore common sense and are injured or die, then that is your choice for you. You can blame your parents or your peers for not insisting, but a sentient human knows that choices are just that: your choices. By extension, you own any consequences.

If you want to complain that wearing a mask is a violation of your Constitutional rights, why aren't you out there protesting seat belts, car seats, and helmets? Hey, those are the exact same things as masks...except for the part where not using them is not an existential threat to other people in the room. 

Choosing not to wear a mask and to socially separate is not the same kind of choice. In choosing not to wear a mask or maintain social distance, you are not choosing for yourself, you are, in fact, choosing for everyone around you. 

We are heading into what used to be annoyingly crowded airports, wondrously crowded malls, and family-crowded dinner tables. That's not going to happen this year...the crowded part. At least it's not going to happen if you have any sort of empathy chip in your brain. If you do, you realize crowds are not only not your friends, they can be the unwitting accomplices to acts of murder. 

I know most of my readers are sentient human beings and take this pandemic seriously. I know this because a lot of you write to me. And I appreciate the seriousness with which you describe your concerns and fears. They are not monsters in the closet or under the bed. They are very real and this wave of infection confirms the pandemic is real. Sure, lots of people get through it and get better. G-d willing, Mrs. Senior Son will be one of them. Our friend Mark wasn't; his family buried him last Wednesday. 

The ones who get better know this no joke and they will do what they must to protect other people from getting sick...and possibly sicker than they were. No one ever wants to believe that he or she is the one who spread the virus to someone who died. 

But if you happen to one of the ones who thinks, this won't happen to my family so we are going to gather en masse around the table for Thanksgiving, well, I hope you've all been sheltering at home away from others, getting a COVID test before Thursday, and have the good sense to social distance the place settings. Y'know why?  BECAUSE THIS ISN'T ABOUT YOU.

This is about NOT spreading COVID-19 around like good will, comfort, and joy. This is about NOT giving it to the checkout lady at the grocery store. 

Own your own behavior, accept the responsibility for a tiny little bit of tikkun olam, and be okay with not being the center of the known universe.

If you do that, you get to wear your mask proudly. You are officially part of the solution. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

If all the usual suspects aren't coming for dinner, 
consider roasting a turkey breast instead. 
You can still have all the other stuff ,
and the leftover bone makes great soup.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Happy to Be Wrong; Nervous About Being Right

Yes, I was surprised. I truly did not expect Biden and Harris to prevail. I expected it to be close, possibly contested in some places, but I did not allow myself to believe the blue ticket would be the winner. 

Ruby Bridges walked so Kamala Harris could run

Something happened on Saturday night when Kamala Harris addressed the nation first. You could hear glass ceilings shattering all over the country. The power in Harris's stature, presence, and words was not lost on little girls across the country. As she said, "I may be the first woman to hold this office. But I won’t be the last.”  Little Miss stayed up late to hear her speak. According to my daughter-in-law, she completely understood what she was seeing on that stage. As she got into bed, Little Miss told her mother, "I liked Kamala. She made me feel happy." That is the power of Kamala Harris: Girl Power. 

But the election is not yet over. While we think we know who won, we're not 100% sure yet. Tallies are not all certified, electors have not yet voted. And the GOP is flinging lawsuits around like confetti. Nor am I surprised that Feckless Loser is refusing to concede. I don't have much to say about that, short of how could the Dems have stolen the election if all those Republicans picked up seats in the House and held seats in the Senate?  That would've been a feat of monumental proportions and frankly, I don't think our technology is anywhere near that sophisticated. 

To be sure, every vote must be counted. 

Let me say that again: EVERY VOTE MUST BE COUNTED.

It took over 7 months for Al Franken to be certified as our Senator back in 2009. Ziggy, who tried so hard to hang on to see the decision, died 3 days after oral arguments started on June 1st. 26 days later the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected Norm (the jackass) Coleman's appeal. (Note: Norm and I never saw eye on eye on anything....we had a history.) So, We, the People of Minnesota, have truly been there, done that, and have gotten the t-shirts. And we still believe EVERY VOTE MUST BE COUNTED.

Meanwhile, back at the White House: Feckless Loser can do a huge amount of damage in the waning days of his presidency. He fired his Secretary of Defense via tweet. (Would that he would fire Betsy DeVos. No such luck.) Not that he or his party is focused on the state of the nation. They are too busy sending out letters asking for money to fight the "theft" of this election. 

A friend in Israel, a DFL'er of the old school, has been slammed with dozens of these emails. And they are pretty scary. She sent me a selection and y'know, there is something seriously sick about them. This is what one looked like:



President Trump needs your help.

The Democrats are trying to STEAL this Election and the Fake News can’t be bothered to report on it. It’s madness. The Left knows the American People want FOUR MORE YEARS of President Trump, and they just can’t handle it.

We’re emailing you now with a very urgent request. We need YOU to step up and publicly stand with your President. With your help, we’ll send a RESOUNDING message to the Liberal MOB that REAL Patriots support President Trump 100%.

President Trump needs you right now, Xxxxxx. We’re going to send him a list of EVERY supporter who adds their name in the NEXT HOUR.

Please add your name IMMEDIATELY to stand with your President and to DEFEND the Election from the Radical Left. >>


Please confirm your information below:

Every single Patriot has to step up to protect the integrity of our Election.

We’re sending President Trump a list of ALL the Patriots who step up RIGHT NOW. Make sure your name is at the VERY TOP.

Please add your name IMMEDIATELY to get your name at the TOP of the list President Trump sees.

Thank you,

Team Trump 2020

This is the line that scares me the most:
With your help, we’ll send a RESOUNDING message to the Liberal MOB that REAL Patriots support President Trump 100%.

Yeah, I know it's part of the rhetoric, but dog whistles are real and this is one. There are people out there who will get these emails and read them as a call to arms. You know it and I know it. There is no election fraud. 

Try to understand the sheer number of votes cast in the election. According to the Associated Press:

  • 147,757,158 votes cast   
  •   76,326,728  votes (50.8%) cast for Biden/Harris 
  •   71,350,307  votes (47.5%) cast for Trump/Pence
  •     4,976,421. vote margin 

 Now, take a quick look at 2016. In case you forgot, Clinton won the popular vote:

  • 128,838,341 votes  cast
  •   65,853,516 votes (48.5%) cast for Clinton/Kaine
  •   62,984,825 votes (46.4)  cast for Trump/Pence
  •     2,868,691  vote margin

Clinton lost in the electoral college, even though she had a 2.1% lead in the popular vote. Once it was established that Feckless Loser would win in the electoral college, Clinton offered a gracious concession. There were no recount demands, not calls to arms, just a concession. Which is how it's supposed to work. 

But that is not what's happening here. And I am not certain we should be surprised. 71,350,307 were cast for Feckless loser, that was 47%, only slightly less than half the country. HALF. You think they are going to just disappear like CoronaVirus was supposed to disappear? 

Far from it. A whole lotta that half has gone underground where they can fester in the cabals and caves. There are militias in them thar hills and they are taking this stuff seriously. They are gonna send a RESOUNDING message to the Liberal MOB that REAL Patriots support President Trump 100%.

Hate festers. It is what is does best and this will have 3 years to fester while it looks for a new face. The next time, the GOP won't allow a crass, classless, reality show host to take the top of the ticket. Oh, no, that will not be repeated. instead, it will be someone slicker, someone better able to soothe while riling up the base. That person will take on Joe and Kamala and possibly wipe the floor with them only because more than half this country will still be racist, misogynistic, and willing to believe a pot of money will fall out of the sky for them if they enter the Presidential Clearing House Sweepstakes. They drink the Kool-Aid because they want to believe the American Dream is for them, too. Those are the ones who will enable the next attempt at deconstructing America. 

I appreciated President-Elect Biden's echoing of last week's episode when he said, 

America has always been shaped by inflection points — by moments in time where we've made hard decisions about who we are and what we want to be.

This is the core of that which must be done. In the healing, there must be listening. We, the People, cannot simply ignore that which is inconvenient. We do need to address the internal workings of this nation to find that middle ground. There will never be total unity and agreement, but there has to be common ground on which we can all stand while we figure out what's best for this nation from the inside out. 

The path before Biden and Harris is fraught with danger...from both sides. I do not envy them the task. That said, they are far more prepared and able to care for the national condition of the United States. I believe them both when they say they will listen to scientists and doctors. They are already putting together a terrific COVID Response team. I believe them when they say they will work with other world leaders to repair the damage inflicted on our reputation. 

I want to be hopeful. I want to be optimistic. 

I'm not there yet. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Let's play a game: How long until Melania files for divorce?

I am taking bets.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Who Are We versus What Are We

I awoke with a massive headache this morning. This is rather unusual for me. I would like to blame staying up too late, having a Dubonnet cocktail at midnight which did absolutely nothing to help me sleep, and incipient terror. All of the above. 

At the same time, a single question rattles around my brain: Who Are We?

I know some of my conservative GOP type friends will tell me the lies and hate speech came from both sides. That the memes and the social media were all lashon ha'rah, evil tongue. And they tell me that they are as afraid of antifa as I am of the new white supremacist movement lining the highways ready to push Biden buses off the road. 

Did leftist rebels line highways to ambush Trump supporters? Did anyone go around spray painting VOTE BLUE on headstones? Did I miss that on Fox? I might have; I've not had the news on, except for PBS election results, for the last 4 days. 

The corollary to the first question is: What Are We?

At this moment, we do not yet know who will prevail in the presidential election. Frankly, I don't think it matters much. You see, we are not WHO we thought we were and we certainly not WHAT we thought we were. 

A number of people posted about the desecration of graves in the Jewish Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I posted it, too, because I have connections to the rabbi in that community. In the thread of my cousins' sharing of the post, a woman wrote: 

You don’t know me, but I support Trump. And I do not harbor hate and racism nor do my friends and family. This horrible act comes from those who do harbor hate and racism, which comes in all colors of skin, religious and political people. Unfortunately, there will always be those who hate...can’t get away from it. But don’t categorize and judge people you don’t know. Just my opinion.

Her statement bothered me a great deal. I replied:
Perhaps you should visit your local GOP office after the election to explain that you don't want to be associated with hate crimes, and to ask why they aren't they [sic]  denouncing these things publicly, loudly, and emphatically....which is hard to do when the leader of the party openly praises his cadre when they shove a bus off the road.

Lots of nice people just close their curtains and look away when their neighbors are victimized and assaulted because, after all, they don't want to get involved. Unless you are standing up and shouting, "THIS IS NOT OKAY," you are enabling stuff like this to happen.

And she replied:

I am not enabling anything. Racism and hate began in the homes of children brought up in that environment...these people were not born racist and hateful. It is not a political motivation unless they have separate agendas and mental problems, which all racists, I believe, do.

I don’t need to knock on the doors of a GOP office and denounce bad behavior or prove what I believe in. My beliefs are well know to my family, friends and neighbors, who are the only ones I answer to. I stand up for the right thing to do, which back our men and women in the military and the men and women in blue, and have my neighbors back, no matter which political party they endorse. 

"I am not enabling anything."

There you have it in a nutshell. She doesn't understand that enabling is exactly what she is doing. Like all those nice Germans, she looks the other way when it counts. And near as I can tell almost 50% of this country agrees with her. And if that is indeed the case, we have some pretty big things to think about between now and January whatever. 

She pretty much sums up who we are with her statement. We have become a nation that does what we are told. 

 I stand up for the right thing to do, which back our men and women in the military and the men and women in blue...

I don't think she is unique or uncommon at any level. She's a good American. She's a proud patriot, although I suspect she has no idea that the Revolutionary War was a revolt against just that authority. She has been indoctrinated to believe the propaganda...from either side. She thinks JFK was a martyr, but she doesn't know for what cause. She thinks MLK did a lot for the Blacks, but has no idea what. In many ways, she is just like the rest of us. And she never thinks to ask. She embodies the national WHO ARE WE? 

Shopkeepers all across the country have boarded up windows in preparation for the riots expected to happen once the election is called for one party or the other. Has this ever happened in our history before? Other than DEWEY WINS, has a candidate, much less a sitting president, ever declared victory before all the votes were tallied?  In a speech in the wee hours of November 4th, our president said the following:

This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. We did win this election. So our goal now is to ensure the integrity for the good of this nation. This is a very big moment. This is a major fraud in our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner. So we’ll be going to the US Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at four o’clock in the morning and add them to the list. Okay? It’s a very sad moment. To me this is a very sad moment and we will win this. And as far as I’m concerned, we already have won it.

Did anyone ever tell this president how elections are counted in this country, and that no tally is official until it is declared certified, much less processed by the Electoral College? We already know he was absent the day they taught three-branches-of-government-checks-and-balances. 

But screw him. You cannot fix anyone that stupid because he's not running the show. Someone else is. But screw him, too. In the end, this is about our national know...the one that is in a shambles. If our reputation is in the toilet, we have only ourselves to blame. 

WHAT ARE WE? as a national identity must be stripped naked for re-examination. We, the People, are not simply how the rest of the world sees us: rock'n'roll, bad Bermuda shorts, and lo-fat dressing on the side.  There is some pretty ugly stuff in our nation's history that we coded into laws. We made pain and suffering not merely legal, our government has encouraged it, made it mandatory. We, the People, are beginning to identify and own these shameful episodes.The conversation has been forced on America in a new way...through the death of our own citizenry.  If we want to know WHAT WE ARE, those have to be more than discussions; there must be actions along with them. 

Half the country thinks the current administration is just fine enough to keep in office. 

Let me say that again: half the country thinks the sitting president, his behavior, his policies, and his disdain for facts and science are all okay with them. 

What We, the People, take for action will determine WHAT WE ARE as a nation. Do not think for one New York minute that the eyes of the world aren't laser focused on what we do next. 

If Feckless Leader wins another term after the votes are tallied, recounted (as I'm sure they will be) and ultimately certified, then so be it. We, the People, have elected the government we deserve. 

How we deal with that knowledge will ultimately be up to each of us. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Stay sane.