The Need to Share What Matters

Four years ago, during the last election season, strangers would suddenly appear and comment on my public Facebook posts and they would say things with weird phrasing and syntax – stuff like “you are a big banana butt” and “you are a person brainless” – and sometimes their names were spelled with characters that are not used in the English language (μονοσε πουλι). These strangers would tell me to fu#& off and wished harm to me and my friends. It was an odd and interesting time.

I blocked those people (to block the names with weird characters I had to do a copy and paste – my keyboard doesn’t include weird characters on it) and learned from that experience to disallow commenting on my public posts from people who aren’t my friends.

I’m pretty sure now – looking back – that these strangers were not fellow citizens of my country. (Duh, right?) I’m not even sure that they were actually human beings.

I don’t want my posts to be divisive – that is not my intent. I don’t want to see my friends ganging up on each other and calling each other names. I don’t want to promote hate. I don’t want to let myself or my posts be manipulated or used to create havoc and confusion.

But.

I also have a real need to share things that matter to me; to share things that are important to me; to share the things that give me hope, and the things that feel like a punch in the gut, too; and to share things that might help us learn from each other.

I am struggling with how to proceed on Facebook. Honestly, sometimes the hate and mean-ness I encounter there is so overwhelming that I feel the need to leave. And sometimes I just get bored with myself – yada yada blah blah blah – and realize I have nothing more to add.

Anyway. We’ll see how it goes…
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Taking Down the Signs

“Karen…as you deal with the results of the election, please know that you ran an ethical, honest, community-driven, and student-focused race. What a fine woman you are. I am grateful my sons had you for a teacher…and I am glad we are friends. You are an incredible example of what humankind can be.”
–  Kathy

Okay – THAT brought me tears.

Rich won. I could not have run for school board with a nicer person. I guess if there’s one emotion I’m feeling right now it’s relief. I’m so glad it’s over! And I’m so glad I put my name in and had this adventure. I’ve met so many wonderful people on this journey. I feel huge gratitude for the support I’ve felt from my community the last six months. I am truly blessed.

I spent most of the day taking down campaign signs. It was a cleansing; a closure. Almost every sign had some memory associated with it that brought me a smile – new friends met; old friends who stepped forward and asked if they could plant signs in their yards; memories of strangers waving and smiling at me as I hammered stakes into the ground. I found one or two signs that I hadn’t even known were out there! That made me grin. 🙂

Today I’ve put two questions to myself –

If I had to do it over, would I still put my name in the race? Yes. I needed to run for this office. I wouldn’t have met all the amazing people I’ve met if I hadn’t done this. If I hadn’t run I would have missed out on a wonderful opportunity to move outside my comfort zone and challenge and stretch myself. I have this sense that there are other reasons I needed to run, too, that I haven’t even realized, yet.

Do I wish I’d won? No. I think I was meant to go down another path. I think there’s something else I’m supposed to do – something that’s tied in with running for this office, but not necessarily with winning. I’m not feeling any kind of disappointment or sadness at all in the election results.

“I love you Karen. Every person you encountered along this journey is a little better because they got a glimpse of you.”
– Linda

Yeah. THAT one made me teary, too.

campaign sign

 

An Ode to Campaign Signs

An Ode to Campaign Signs 

They were the first to the front –
the few, the proud. They stood
sentinel, silently, solemnly solo
pounded into hillsides and lawns,
mud and grass and gravel.
Six months later and their numbers
are down – disappeared into
dumpsters, shredded by county
mowers, confiscated because they
were planted in the wrong place.
Those that remain are bedraggled,
snapped by the wind, duct taped,
mud-splattered, tilted, askew –
but still they stand – the proud
the staunch, the few.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

campaign sign

School Board Candidates Forum

Participated in my first-ever public forum tonight as a candidate. I was so nervous – I think we all were – the other school board candidates and I were laughing about that before it started – I don’t think any of the other candidates had done one of these before, either. But we all survived and came out smiling and shaking hands and nobody threw tomatoes at us or anything.

Also – the Seahawks won.

It was a good night.

***

The League of Women Voters hosted the event at our local public library. All the school board candidates gave opening and closing speeches and in-between we were asked questions from the audience.

Here’s my opening speech:
It’s great to be here tonight with my teammates on this adventure. All of us – Bill, Holly, Rich and I – are running because we genuinely want to help our community. What I can bring to the board are my years of teaching experience – right now the board doesn’t have anyone with a teaching background on it. I have a Bachelor’s in Education and History from Washington State University, and a Master’s in Literacy from Walden University. I was a teacher for more than 30 years – for 20 of those years i was in the Burlington-Edison school district and taught at three of the schools there – Allen, Edison, and West View, the district’s dual language school. And for the last seven years I’ve taught at Emerson High School, the alternative high school in Mount Vernon. I think my teaching experience would add something positive to the board.

And here’s my closing bit:
I have a passion for teaching and learning. As I contemplated my retirement from teaching last spring I realized I still wanted to be a part of education – and it occurred to me that I could bring my experience and love for teaching to service on the school board.

My mom passed on two years ago. She was the youngest of ten children – eight of them daughters – and she was the only female in her family to get a university degree. Education was very important to her. My brothers and I knew growing up that there was an expectation we would go on to college. My mom worked as a teacher’s aide for many years and impacted a lot of young lives – she knew how to reach the struggling students. I still hear from some of her old students about how much my mom meant to them. I think Mom would be proud of me for running for school board – win or lose – I think she’d be proud that I put my name into the race.

I think I could bring a lot of good to the school board.

Thank you for inviting us all here tonight to share our visions with you.

campaign sign

Getting Through the Next Couple Weeks

Dear friends –
I think we’re probably all the targets of fear-mongering and hate-mongering right now – it’s a week before the elections, after all.

So I want to say this to my conservatish friends – I maybe don’t always understand why you vote the way you vote – but I trust you’re doing what you think is the right thing to do. I’ve seen you reach out to those in need. I’ve seen you come to the defense of people who are different than you. I don’t believe you would willfully cause harm to others. I think you’re doing the best you can in very confusing and challenging times.

I trust you know the same is true of me – left-wing snowflake that I am. 

We are all in this together – left, right, upside-down, and in-between. Let’s do what we can to help each other get through the next couple weeks, okay? Remember the power in kind words and a friendly smile.
– Karen

“Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“‘Love one another’ (I John, iii. 23), is the most simple and profound counsel of the inspired writer.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“Trust.”

“Peals that should startle the slumbering thought from its erroneous dreams are partially unheeded; but the last trump has not sounded, or this would not be so. Marvels, calamities, and sin will much more abound as truth urges upon mortals its resisted claims; but the awful daring of sin destroys sin, and foreshadows the triumph of truth.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Taking the dog for a walk,
the shooting star got my
attention when it flew across
the heavens on the evening
of November eighth. I stopped
in my tracks, looking skyward,
alert now, and the voice said,
“Trust. Everything is happening

as it needs to happen.
Don’t be afraid. Trust.”

And crap. I knew then. I knew
who’d won the election – why
else would I need to be reassured?

I went inside. And saw my fears
confirmed. And felt weirdly

stilled inside. Holding on
to that message: “Trust.”

The voice didn’t say what was to come
would be easy, or without struggle
or challenge. It didn’t provide
details of how, where, when or why.
It just said, “Don’t be afraid. Trust.”

And the earth rises now.
Thirsty for Truth. Joining in Love.

Crying for justice.
In the streets. From the rooftops.
Through the wires of computers
across the world.

“Everything is happening 
as it needs to happen.
Trust,” said the voice of Love.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

trust

Work in Progress

There were a couple things that came across my Facebook page this morning that really inspired me, and helped me deal with our current situation in the US of A. The first one was a clip of an interview Jon Stewart had on CBS (“I don’t believe we’re a fundamentally different country today than we were two weeks ago… The same country that elected Donald Trump elected Barack Obama….  America is not natural – natural is tribal – we’re fighting against thousands of years of human behavior and history to create something… that’s what’s exceptional about America and that’s what’s… this ain’t easy. It’s an incredible thing.”); the second was a story about what Pres. Obama told his daughters after the election (“You don’t get into a fetal position about it. You don’t start worrying about apocalypse. You say, O.K., where are the places where I can push to keep it moving forward.”).

The United States of America is a work in progress, ain’t it? And I love that. We can only go forward. In Science and Health Mary Baker Eddy says: “In Christian Science there is never a retrograde step, never a return to positions outgrown.” I believe that’s true for my country, too.
work-in-progress

“We are living in ridiculous times.”

 

I have been reluctant to share this – because I don’t want it to come across as trivializing our current circumstances or anything – but… this morning I was sort of going through my despondent mantra of the week: “We are living in dangerous times. We are living in challenging times. We are living in precarious times…” and this came into my thought: WE ARE LIVING IN RIDICULOUS TIMES. And it just… it lifted something from me, you know? It gave me a moment where I could laugh in the face of the mean-ness and hate trying to intimidate us all – and I could say, “I ain’t ascared of you!” And I really needed that.ridiculous-times

 

Guest Post from a Wise Young Friend

My young friend, William, a fellow Christian Scientist, gave me permission to share this post. It was the first post I stumbled upon when I awakened in the middle of the night all shivering and scared a couple days ago. I found it really helpful. I’m hoping it will be helpful to you, too –

“It’s taken me a while to process my thoughts on recent events, as I’m sure is also the situation with many of you. I am really trying to apply my faith to this situation and see the good at work- it’s hard, but it’s worth it. I’ve been holding to the concept that ‘Divine Love alone governs man…’

“Every generation faces a challenge. 70 years ago, the Greatest Generation faced the spread of fascism over the globe and rose to the occasion- nothing like it has been seen before or since. This is our moment where we get to decide if we are the next greatest generation, or the ‘whatever’ generation that didn’t get out and vote in great enough numbers to stop this from happening. We are confronted with a frightening human picture- one where an administration that bases its power on xenophobia, hatred, racism, sexism, homophobia and dismissal of sexual assault has taken over all the branches of our government. But if we are afraid, then that means we have truly lost. As long as we don’t let fear win, there is hope. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but it is our responsibility to ensure that our friends and neighbors are kept safe and loved, that our environment is not destroyed, that entire groups of people are not deported, demonized, and victimized, and that our country doesn’t turn to the dystopian future that seems so popular in Hollywood these days. If the law and the government won’t protect everyone in the United States, we will. We can’t leave for Canada or anywhere else. We have to stay and fight. But we can’t fight fire with fire. Hatred must be met with love, fear must be met with courage, violence must be met with forgiveness and peace.

“Along these lines, we can’t stoop to demonizing people, especially if we are resisting an administration that got where it is by doing so. We need to acknowledge the good in everyone and find ways to constructively work together, without excusing bad behavior. Half of our country isn’t monsters. I still believe that. And many positions that those take on the opposing side are understandable and sometimes even laudable. I myself was nominally a moderate before the last few months permanently changed how I viewed this country. We must strive to understand what led them to make this decision and find ways to constructively address their grievances. At the same time, it is up to our generation to finally confront and permanently destroy the systemic racism, bigotry, intolerance, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia that is still apparently a major part of the fabric of this country. Previous generations have tried and have made great strides- now we must finish the race. It’s heartening to me that, if only under-25 votes had been counted, she would have won over 500 electoral votes. This demonstrates to me that there is hope in our generation.

“I still believe that we have a shining future ahead of us. One where we are completely powered by sustainable energy, where we have advanced technologically and spiritually enough to stop destroying our environment, where our nation has grown up enough to look past outward appearances and different opinions and love everybody, no exceptions, where we have left Earth and explored the stars, where we have saved all of God’s precious endangered creations here on Earth, where nobody goes hungry or without needed care, where the income gap is narrowed, and where anybody can be anything they want. All of this WILL happen if we make it happen. Let us take this election as a wakeup all that galvanizes us to redouble our efforts towards a brighter future. We CAN do it!

“Fight the good fight, and surely we shall prevail!”
– William Whittenbury