McCain: The One Thing I Know…

Here’s how McCain’s death has affected me, in a personal way – I’ve come to realize what a chicken shit I am – I stand on the sidelines criticizing the GOP, criticizing the DNC, criticizing the politicians who don’t support universal health care, criticizing the political leaders who have allowed corporations to take over our country, criticizing the politicians who aren’t giving shelter to those seeking asylum and the homeless, poor, and unemployed – I send my letters, post my blog posts, march in the marches, criticize my fellow human beings who aren’t doing what I think they should be doing – and what the hell?! It’s easy for me to stand on the sidelines and lob my criticisms at the people who are “in charge” – it’s a lot easier than actually stepping up to the plate and running for office myself. I am humbled because I realize I am lacking the courage to put myself out there in the fray and open MYSELF up to criticism, and the slander, libel, and rumors that always seem to circulate around people who are willing to shoulder our responsibility for us.

I am deeply conflicted about McCain. I find it hard to stick pins into a man who endured five years of torture – who refused to be released from prison so long as his comrades were still in there – and I can’t help but wonder how *I* might have been changed if I’d gone through the same circumstances. I’d like to think I’d be really noble about it all, and forgiving, and so forth. But I don’t know. I don’t know how an experience like that would have changed me.

There were things McCain did that were horrible. Horrible. I would agree with anyone who said that. But I find I don’t have it in me to hate this man.

Right now I find myself thinking about that moment when he cast his vote against dismantling the ACA. I find myself thinking about that moment when he stood up for his rival, Obama, against that woman’s prejudices and misinformation. I find myself thinking about how he refused to be released from prison until his comrades were released. I find myself thinking about the family who loved him.

This is the one thing I know, for sure, about McCain – he had courage. And I’m not sure I have it in the same quantity.

I don’t see how anyone’s anger towards this man is going to make the world a better place.

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I Didn’t Know

Quote

I stumbled upon this blog post this morning by a woman named Kellie Knight – and WOWZA! Powerful! Check it out – via I Didn’t Know

Recognizing Our Kinship

Walking through the waking waiting area
at Pittsburgh’s airport – a kaleidoscope
of faces zooming in, zooming out – a mix
of colors – cedar, cinnamon, and taupe,
peach, pink, carob, caramel, and coffee –
his face stands out – he looks like Ram Dass
in The Little Princess – and he’s looking at me
We smile towards each other as we pass –
recognizing our kinship in the mass
of humming, hustling, hurrying humanity
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

The Man in the Fine Suit

I saw him standing in the waiting area of the airport
He was in a fine suit, silver-haired, fit, nicely-groomed
He looked successful
A man came up to him – a colleague, perhaps – and they
chatted and laughed together for a while
I filed the silver-haired man away in my mental
bank of characters

On the plane I discovered him again – seated on
the opposite side of the aisle, one row up –
in economy class – I hadn’t expected that

In the same row as the one in which I sat –
on the opposite side of the aisle – was a young
family – father, a daughter of two or three years
with pink ribbons in her hair, her mother
The trip would not be an easy one for the family
The little girl was cranky – tired, screaming,
crying, unhappy with this turn of events
The woman sitting in front of me covered
her ears and glared at the little family
I turned off my hearing aid and settled in

I am a mother
I could relate

Our plane landed, rolled down the tarmac,
parked in front of the gate
I leaned over and asked the little girl if she’d
just had her first flight on an airplane
She looked back at me with big eyes, quiet now
Her mother said no, she’d been on other flights,
and she’s usually such a good traveler…
“You did a good job,” I assured the mother
“You did what you could. Your daughter
is precious…”

The mother laughed in relief – I think she’d been
expecting me to speak different words to her
“We’ve both been sweating,” she said, glancing
over at her young husband, who smiled back
at me and nodded his head in confirmation
of his wife’s words – I think I saw steam rising
from their armpits – it had been a rough ride

And then the silver-haired man stood to grab
his suitcase from the overhead bin
He turned back to the mother and quietly spoke
to her – I saw her smile up at him and heard her
thank him – and he nodded and returned the smile

And that moment told me everything I needed
to know about the man in the fine suit
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

What will it take?

“The baneful effect of evil associates is less seen than felt. The inoculation of evil human thoughts ought to be understood and guarded against. The first impression, made on a mind which is  attracted or repelled according to personal merit or demerit, is a good detective of individual character. Certain minds meet only to separate through simultaneous repulsion. They are enemies without the preliminary offence. The impure are at peace with the impure.”
Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

Have I ever changed my mind about a politician? Oh yeah. I’ve never had a problem with switching from one candidate to another as my thoughts evolve. Two cases come immediately to mind:
– I voted for Reagan in 1980. By 1984 – after I’d witnessed him fire all the air traffic controllers, break up workers’ unions, sell weapons to Iran, take money from social security, support Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein – I no longer supported him, and voted for the other guy.
– I voted for Clinton in 1992, but by 1996 my inner BS detector was beeping – and I voted for Ralph Nader instead.

I have never really been one of those people who gets attached to personalities. I tend to follow causes – not people. I tend to vote for candidates who share the same values as me (championing the poor and disenfranchised, working to clean up our environment, fighting for social justice and equality) – rather than showboat egomaniacs surrounded in glitz and gold.

And maybe that’s why it’s really hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that there are still people in my country who are blindly loyal to a politician who has – from what I’ve seen – shown no glimmer of genuine kindness or generosity or honesty since he’s been in office. A politician who oversaw more than 2000 children being separated from their families. A politician whose longtime lawyer has admitted that he was directed by the politician to pay hush money to at least two women to keep them from talking about their affairs with the politician . A politician whose campaign manager was just convicted of eight major financial crimes. A politician who is methodically dismantling the environmental regulations that protect our air and water.

How anyone can justify or rationalize any of this is beyond me. How anyone can spin any of what this politician has done into something good is a mystery. What will it take for his followers to finally say they’ve seen enough?

“Christian Scientists should beware of unseen snares, and adhere to the divine Principle and rules for demonstration. They must guard against the deification of finite personality.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings

“I missed you!”

I’ve been traveling and Dad and I hadn’t seen each other for almost two weeks. Dad hears I’m there and comes quickly shuffling out of his room…
Dad: Karen!
Karen: Daddy! I missed you!
Dad: I missed YOU!

We give each other a tight hug and then sit down at the kitchen table to look at cards he’s received over the last couple weeks. After he’s done with the cards, we put his mountaineering hat on his head and Dad and I head out for a drive.
Dad: I’m lucky to have a daughter who takes me on drives.
Karen: I enjoy taking you on drives!
Dad: These drives are the highlight of my life.
I pat his knee and tell him I like them, too.

We drive for a while, past fields and barns, Dad’s head turning as he catches glimpses of things that interest him.
Dad: This is beautiful country.
Karen: Yes, it is. It’s really smokey right now, though, from the forest fires.
Dad: Where are the fires?
Karen: Washington, Oregon, California, Canada. This whole part of the country is burning up…
Dad: Are these fires caused by lightning or are they man-made?
Karen: (thinking) Both, I think.
Dad nods.

A little later…
Dad: I can smell the smoke.
Karen: Yeah, it’s pretty thick, isn’t it?
Dad nods.

Later still…
Dad: It’s good to get out into the real world…

I drive us on back roads and byways and eventually end up at Bayview Park. Dad recognizes being there before. He feels up to a short walk to a bench and we sit there in companionable silence for a while – just gazing out at the tidelands and the seabirds together. Then I ask him if he’d like me to get him a breakfast sandwich and a root beer float and he thinks this is a good idea. So we get off the bench and make our way back to the car – my hand under Dad’s elbow. He is moving at a good clip…
Dad: I’m a spry old man.
Karen: Yes, you are.

We drive to the Sisters Espresso – where Dad decides to get a vanilla milkshake instead of the float.

After he gets his sandwich and shake I ask him if he’d like to come to my house for a while and he nods his head yes. He tells me he’s not up for watercolor painting today, though – “You have to be in the right mood for that.” He sits at the dining room table for a while – finishing his breakfast sandwich and his shake. Scott and Sam the Wonder Dog appear. Sam comes into the dining room to greet Dad. Dad says, “Hi Sam” and reaches out to pet her. “She remembers me,” he says, happy to know she’s not forgotten him.

About half an hour later I ask Dad if he’s ready to go home now, and he nods his head yes. He’s looking a little tired. Getting in and out of cars is hard work when you’re 100 years old. We get him back in the car one more time and take him back to his home.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen

Dad at Bayview State Park

A Real Life Hero

It has been a year and a half since Mom died. Dad had been in the hospital, suffering from delirium caused by an infection, when Mom passed. When he was released from the hospital after her death, he never returned to the apartment they’d shared together before he went into the hospital. He, basically, woke up from his delirium to find himself in a new home and without his companion of 62 years. I know he’s been working hard in the last 18 months to make some sense of it all. His courage since Mom’s death has been awe-inspiring for me to witness. I always knew he was brave – his mountaineering adventures are proof of that – but I never realized the amazing depth of his steely inner resolve until the last year and a half. I think I finally understand now how he survived those weeks on K2. I finally understand why so many people look on him as a hero. He is one. A genuine real life hero. And he’s my father.