I Taught History for Two Decades…

“Covering iniquity will prevent prosperity and the ultimate triumph of any cause. Ignorance of the error to be eradicated oftentimes subjects you to its abuse.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

I taught history for two decades. My students learned about the Holocaust, slavery, the Trail of Tears, attacks against Chinese railroad workers and miners, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and the killing of Charlie Howard. They watched “The Grapes of Wrath” and learned about the struggles and inequity the poor faced during the Great Depression. They learned about the Constitution – about their rights and the rights of others. They practiced being lawyers defending clients against injustice. They created their own presidential candidates out of construction paper and words, and learned about the qualifications their candidates would need to run for president. My students learned about heroes in history, too – they learned about Georgio Perlasca, Irena Sendler, Oskar Schindler, Ghandi, Dorothea Dix, Clara Barton, Susan Anthony, Harriet Tubman, and the unheralded acts of kindness “common” people showed to others during times of challenge and struggle.

My students learned about these things and people to help give them tools to be heroes themselves one day.

To force teachers to skip over the ugly parts of history – injustice, inequity, racism, political and corporate greed and dishonesty – is not a help to our world, our country, or our students. It is not preparing our young people for the challenges they and/or their friends will be facing in their lives or helping to create the heroes our world so desperately needs.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“The history of our country, like all history, illustrates the might of Mind, and shows human power to be proportionate to its embodiment of right thinking.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

A Walking Piece of History

(Excerpt from Are You Taking Me Home Now? Adventures with Dad)

Dad (Dee Molenaar, 99) is still in bed at noon.
Karen: Do you just want to stay in bed and rest today?
Dad: (looking up at me, hopefully) Unless somebody wants to go for a drive.
Karen: Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: Yeah.

A half an hour later Gwen has Dad dressed and fed, and we load him into my car. I head south on I-5.

Dad: When you and Scott retire are you going to travel the world?
Karen: That sounds fun!
Dad: I’ve seen a lot of the world. (This is an understatement.) I can tell you where NOT to go.
Karen: Where should we not go?
Dad: New York City.
(I’ve been to New York City and enjoyed it – but I’m wondering when Dad went and what he experienced there.)
Karen: Where else should we not go?
Dad: Well, you’re on the freeway. Any place from the freeway is fine. It’s easy to go anywhere from here.

Dad: Where are you taking me?
Karen: I thought we’d go south and see if we can see Rainier. It might be kind of hazy today, though. There’s a forest fire in Canada.
Dad: Rainier’s too far. Baker will be all clouded in today. (We pass a sign for LaConner.) Let’s go to the old waterfront part of LaConner.
Karen: You want to go to LaConner?
Dad: Yeah.

(As we’re driving through the countryside towards LaConner, Dad is taking note of what he sees.)
Dad: This area looks a lot like the midwest, except for the hills in the background.
(We pass a sign with a Dutch name on it and I point to it.)
Dad: Roozengarde – there’s a Dutch name. We could be driving through the Netherlands – except for the mountains in the background.

(We get to LaConner and Dad decides he wants to go to a museum. I’ve wanted to take Dad to the Skagit Historical Museum since he moved up here a year ago. Maybe today is the day this will happen. I drive to the museum and park maybe 30 yards from it. I don’t realize there are a lot of parking spaces closer to the museum, but, when I park where I park, 30 yards doesn’t seem like much of a walk. I am wrong. We unload Dad and his walker, and begin the walk to the museum. After about ten yards Dad says he needs to sit down, and we find a place for him to sit on a little wall.)

Karen: Let me go see if they have wheelchairs in there. Stay here. Are you alright?
Dad: (nodding) Okay.
(I go into the museum to see if they have wheelchairs. They don’t.  A rolling chair seems promising, though. I ask if I can use it to get Dad around, and Ann, the woman tending the counter, says sure. I bring the chair down to where Dad is sitting, and help Dad get into the rolling chair. A nice couple about to go into the museum approaches us to help. Steve says he can push Dad from the back, and Danielle guards Dad from the side, and I pick up Dad’s feet so they don’t drag on the concrete. When we get Dad inside he decides he wants to use his walker in there. He heads into the room that displays a history of technology.)
Dad: That looks just like my first car!
Karen: Your first car was a Model-T Ford?
Dad: Yeah. Model-T Ford. 1925.
(I am grinning now. I love that I’m walking through an historical museum with a walking piece of history. Dad is starting to get tired again, and we bring back the rolling chair for him to sit in. We head into the World War II exhibit. Dad served in the Coast Guard in World War II and he seems fascinated by what he sees in there. He notes that the Coast Guard doesn’t seem to be represented in there, but says that’s okay – the Coast Guard was more in the South Pacific, and this exhibit is more about the campaign in Europe.)

(Danielle, the woman who helped Dad earlier, approaches Dad to tell him she looked him up in Wikipedia and wants to thank him for his service during the war.  Dad thanks her and asks her if she was in the Coast Guard. Danielle says no, but her brother was. Dad likes that. I get a picture of Dad with Steve and Danielle. Dad asks me their names, and I introduce them. He shakes their hands. He has just met two new friends.)

(Dad is tired now. He’s ready to go home. With colossal effort he manages to use his walker to get himself back to the car – which I have now parked right next to the door.  He asks where we’re going now, and I tell him I’m going to get him a root beer float and then take him home. He nods his head in agreement. I stop for his root beer float.)
Karen: You really earned this one.
(Dad nods his head in complete agreement, and then we head to his home. Dad looks completely exhausted. He has sucked down his root beer float by the time we get to his place. I open the passenger door for him, and inch by inch he turns himself around in his seat.)

Dad: Every little movement takes so much energy now. And I need to rest after every movement. (He closes his eyes and sighs and leans back to rest for a few moments, before making another movement to get out of the car.) You have a doddering old Dad.
Karen:  No. I have a mountain-climbing Dad.
Dad: That was a long time ago. (He looks up at the house.) I think I’m going to take a little nap when I get in there.
Karen: I love you, Daddy. I’m proud to be your daughter.
Dad: I love you, too, and I’m proud to have you for a daughter.

Dad first car
Dad and WW2 2
Dad and WW2 3
Dad in the WW2 exhibit
Dad Steve Danielle

Dad Turns 98 Today!

Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you. Be afraid of nothing. There is so little time that your youth will last – such a little time.
– Richard Halliburton

God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis.
– Mary Baker Eddy

Dad turns 98 today. A couple months ago he thought he’d be turning 100 today. A month ago he thought he’d be turning 97. We finally got it all sorted out when I reminded him that he was born in 1918 and that it is now 2016. I saw him do the calculations in his head. A few minutes later we were sitting at the dining room table with my mom and husband, when Dad announced, kind of shocked, “I’m going to be 98 in a month! I never thought I’d make it to 98.” Later he told me that 98 sounds a lot older than 100. Apparently he just skipped over 98 and 99 and went right from 97 to 100 when he’d been trying to figure out his age.

Think about this: When Dad was born women didn’t have the right to vote, yet. Radios, telephones, and cars had just been invented. There were no CDs, televisions, cellphones, or computers. There was no internet. There was no Google. There was no Wikipedia. To find information people often went to the library and did research in these things called books – and sometimes the research might take days or even weeks! (Today if you want to find out more about Dad, all you’ve got to do is go to his Wikipedia page – et voila! There he is!)

People also read those things called books just for fun. The book that Dad has said most influenced him was a book called The Rolling Road to Romance by an adventurer named Richard Halliburton. Halliburton exonerated his readers to “Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you. Be afraid of nothing. There is so little time that your youth will last – such a little time.”

Dad took those words to heart.

Dad was born at the end of World War I. He survived The Great Depression with his family, served in World War II, has climbed on the highest mountains on earth, went to the South Pole, and close to the North Pole, has been on six of the seven continents, has moved easily among world leaders, and traveled the world with a close group of fellow adventurers and explorers. At various times he’s worked as a photographer, cartographer, geologist, hydrologist, artist, mountain guide, ski instructor, and author. He’s moved through life with no sense of limitation about what he might accomplish or where he might go or who he might meet, and that – what I guess some might call “naïve” – sense of freedom has served him well in his life.

And today he turns 98. He’s still engaged in his life – still enjoys exploring the nooks and crannies of Life’s highways and by-ways. He continues to live “the wonderful life” that is in him.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Dee Molenaar

 

Our Memory

If delusion says, “I have lost my memory,” contradict it. No faculty of Mind is lost. – Mary Baker Eddy

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits… Psalm 103: 2

He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered:
the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. – Psalms 111: 4

Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not… Proverbs 4: 5

***

Through the years there’ve been several fictional films that have tackled the subject of false memory – The Manchurian Candidate, Total Recall, and The Bourne Ultimatum come to mind.  But this week I freaked out a little when a friend posted an article on Facebook that reported researchers had, in fact, discovered a way to implant false memories in mice: “Memory researchers from U.S. and Japan have, for the first time, implanted false memories into a lab animal… It’s already clear that people are able to form false memories. Think about that family tale about your getting sick at Disneyland—the one that’s been told so often, you’ve felt yourself ‘remember’ the event more and more over the years, even though you were way too young to truly recall it. Or, more seriously, think about how often eyewitness testimony fails, convicting people who are later exonerated through DNA testing… The team also performed further experiments that showed that the formation of true and false memories both set off a series of molecular changes in the brain that are very similar. So false memories may feel indistinguishable from real ones.” – http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-07/researchers-successfully-implant-mice-false-memories?src=SOC&dom=fb

The story gave a link to another story – this one titled Why Science Tells Us Not to Trust Eyewitness Accounts:”Many people believe that human memory works like a video recorder: the mind records events and then, on cue, plays back an exact replica of them. On the contrary, psychologists have found that memories are reconstructed rather than played back each time we recall them. The act of remembering, says eminent memory researcher and psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, is ‘more akin to putting puzzle pieces together than retrieving a video recording.” Even questioning by a lawyer can alter the witness’s testimony because fragments of the memory may unknowingly be combined with information provided by the questioner, leading to inaccurate recall.'”  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-the-eyes-have-it

Yeah. Soooo….

How can we trust that what we think we remember actually happened? How can we protect ourselves from false memories? Contrariwise, how can we make our true memories – the memories that we cherish, or that have helped us learn important lessons – safe from tampering or disease? And how do we distinguish the false memories from the true ones?

Were you expecting answers here? 🙂

Nah. I’m just trying to figure it all out, too. But I guess I could share some thoughts I’ve had about it all…

As a history major, it’s always struck me as interesting how people can look at the exact same events and see them in such completely different ways. If you read a school textbook about American history written in, say, 1955, for instance, it seems to tell a completely different story than a textbook written about American history in 1985. And I find it interesting – and personally disturbing – that some events – The Holocaust, for example – are discounted, by some individuals, as never having happened at all. It seems important to me that we remember The Holocaust – the lessons learned from it, and the heroism of those who experienced it, and those who helped others survive it.

One of my favorite books is a book called The Giver, written by Lois Lowery. In the book one boy, Jonas, is chosen to hold the collective memories of his community so that the other members of his community don’t need to be burdened by them. This really stinks for Jonas, and for his community, too. To have shared memories – of both painful times and good times – is comforting, I think. It helps us know we’re not alone and isolated from one another, but connected in our common humanity.

We build our communities, and our own lives, on our memories – learning from our mistakes, remembering and celebrating all the good, keeping loved ones who’ve left us alive in our thoughts.

But what if a memory is holding us back – keeping us from loving, from forgiving, and from moving forward in our lives? That can’t be a good thing, right? Maybe there are times when forgetting is actually a part of the healing? Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, tells us several times in her writings to “forgive and forget”  and Paul writes in Philippians 3: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul’s words make sense to me. There have been times in my life when a painful experience was so completely healed in my thought it was as if it never happened, and I’ve so completely forgotten it that I was surprised, later, to be reminded of it. One example of this is when my mom called to tell me that the mother of a third grade classmate had called to apologize for blaming me for things I’d never done. She was weepy as she told Mom, “Karen never did anything wrong. She always treated my daughter with kindness. I’m sorry that I was so mean to her.” What this woman was referring to was something that had happened 30 years before! I had completely forgotten about it. I was glad to hear that she and her daughter were doing well. Whatever lessons they’d needed to learn from that experience, they apparently had learned. Now they could forget all about it, too, and move on.

But to get back to the article on mice at the top of the page: What if the painful memory we have is a false memory to begin with – a memory implanted by scientific researchers or a hypnotist or that we’ve unknowingly created ourselves –  how do we discern that it’s false and jettison it? Speaking from personal experience, I’ve sometimes only discovered I was carrying around a false memory after a professor’s given a test and I gave the wrong answer, or after others showed me evidence – notes, letters, videoclips – that proved to me my memories were wrong. It’s always kind of an interesting moment when I realize I was carrying around a false memory. “Whoah! Look at that! I had no idea!”  And it’s always a relief. I can correct my thought then and move on.

Maybe, in the end, the only memories that are important to us are the ones that lead us to self-correction and reformation – and the memories that bring us closer to Love.

God is the only Mind. Our Mind is God. And we’re never for a moment, separated from Mind. That’s kind of reassuring, isn’t it? I mean… we can’t lose our Mind because where would it go? Mind is everywhere, fills all space, and we dwell in the consciousness of Mind. All we can know is what God, Truth, knows. All we can feel is what God, Love, feels. All we can be is God’s expression, manifestation, and reflection. There’s no part of us that can hold false memories, for all we can know is the perfect truth of perfect Mind.

“…you consult your brain in order to remember what has hurt you, when your remedy lies in forgetting the whole thing; for matter has no sensation of its own, and the human mind is all that can produce pain. As a man thinketh, so is he. Mind is all that feels, acts, or impedes action.” – Mary Baker Eddy

“…you will discover the material origin, growth, maturity, and death of sinners, as the history of man, disappears, and the everlasting facts of being appear, wherein man is the reflection of immutable good.” – Mary Baker Eddy

“When we learn that error is not real, we shall be ready for progress, ‘forgetting those things which are behind.'” – Mary Baker Eddy

“Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more”. – Isaiah 54: 4