Aunt Junie told me she’d heard these words once in a CS lecture: “It is never too little; too much; too late; or too soon.” And now, as I wake in the middle of the night, these words dance in my thoughts as I gaze up at the moon.
I am never too old or too young, too heavy or too thin, with too little time or too much to do what Love needs me to do, or to feel the power of Love’s touch.
I’m neither too rich or too poor, too masculine or too feminine, too dark-skinned or too light to be the perfect expression of Good right NOW I’m just right.
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Years ago, when I was a teenager maybe, I remember seeing a Star Trek episode that showed a man who was half-black and half-white in a struggle with another man who was half-black and half-white – they were enemies because of their color – and I remember looking at them, thinking, “But… they’re BOTH half-black and half-white… what’s the issue here?” And at the end of the episode we finally see that the reason they’re enemies is because one of them is white on the right side of his body, and the other is white on the left side of his body, and… yeah… I remember thinking how absolutely ridiculous it all was for them to hate each other just because they were colored differently on different sides. But it is, of course, no more ridiculous than hating someone just because they’re all ONE color, and that color is different than ours.
The summer after I graduated from high school – which was about ten years after the Watts Riots – I traveled with my dad to California. Dad had grown up in Los Angeles, and he wanted to revisit his old neighborhood and see his childhood home once again. As we drove the streets to his old home, I noticed that we were the only white faces in a several-mile radius.
Dad pulled up in front of a little house, and his face lit up – “This was my home!” he said, getting out of the car. I followed him to the front door, where an African-American woman wearing a house-dress and a really surprised look on her face, appeared. Dad explained that he’d grown up in this house and asked if he could come in and take a look around and go out into the backyard where he’d played as a child. The woman smiled graciously and opened her door for us and allowed us into her home. I followed Dad through the house and out into the backyard where there was still the avocado tree he remembered from his childhood. He looked around, said it seemed smaller than he’d remembered it, and started talking about the happy years he’d spent in this yard as a child. Then he went back through the house, shook the woman’s hand, and thanked her for letting him re-visit his old home. Still looking kind of surprised to find these friendly White people traipsing through her house, she smiled back at dad, and told him he was welcome and it was no problem at all.
A block or so later Dad pulled into a gas station to fill the tank up, and a Black attendant came out to help us (this was in the days before people filled up their own cars with gas). He had that same surprised look on his face as the woman in Dad’s old house. He smiled, and filled up our tank for us, and, as we were ready to leave, said in a friendly way, a big smile on his face, “Come back again!”
Every time I think of this trip through that neighborhood in Los Angeles I start grinning. I’m pretty sure we were the only White people in years who’d come nonchalantly driving through that section of Los Angeles. I remember the surprised hospitality of the gas station attendant and the woman living in Dad’s old house, and it fills me up with a kind of joy. I remember my dad – totally oblivious to the fact that he was in a part of Los Angeles that most White people might find threatening – happily traveling down “Memory Lane,” shaking hands with the woman in his old house, greeting the gas station attendant with an open, natural smile – and it makes me really proud to be his daughter.
I am, likewise, proud to be my mother’s daughter. When I was a little girl – maybe eight or so – Mom took my little brothers and me shopping at the local mall. As we were looking at clothes a young African-American family walked by, also shopping. A large middle-aged White man standing near us turned to Mom and said something like, “Those people should stay in their own part of town.” My mom looked up at him, puzzled – she didn’t know what he was talking about at first. He pointed to the African-American family and repeated what he’d said. When my mom finally understood what he was talking about her face turned red with indignation. She looked up at him from her height of 5’2″ and, her voice shaking with emotion, said, “That family has as much right to be here as you or me! We are all God’s children!” The White man realized then that he’d picked the wrong person to share his racism with, and sort of stepped back and disappeared from the store.
I’m really grateful to have been raised by parents for whom the color of people’s skin was a non-issue, and kindness towards everyone was considered natural and normal.
Thou to whose power our hope we give, Free us from human strife. Fed by Thy love divine we live, For Love alone is Life; And life most sweet, as heart to heart speaks kindly when we meet and part. – Mary Baker Eddy
“The time is always right to do what is right.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
So, on my walk yesterday, I saw a man wearing a t-shirt that said: “PROUD WHITE BOY.” I’m not going to describe the physicality of this man – other than to say that, obviously, he was White.
But his shirt got me to wondering. Was he proud because he was White? Was he proud because he was a “boy”? And… why would he be proud of things he has no control over? It’s like being proud of being human, or being proud of being born in this country. Being born here, and being born White, and being born male are not things that anybody has to earn. They are not achievements. They are not proof of your courage or evidence of your hard work. They are just the happenstances of your start in life – a part of earth’s crap shoot. And there’s no reason, in my mind, to be proud – or ashamed, either – of the happenstances of your human start.
It’s what comes after your start – the life you build here – that shows the most important things about you: Are you living a life of kindness? Of moral courage? Do you stand up for others? Are you generous with the good Life gives you? Are you honest? Are you living a life of integrity? Are you using your talents and gifts to make the world a better place? To me, those are the things that matter.
A t-shirt that says “PROUD TO BE KIND” would make more sense to me. Or maybe “PROUD TO BE HUMBLE.” 🙂
“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22-23
“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 couple of my Facebook friends have talked about the rioting and violence that have occurred concurrently with some of the Black Lives Matter protests. I’ve been responding individually to their comments, but I thought it might save me time if I just did a copy and paste of my last response to a friend and saved it here:
Yeah. I hear you. CHOP in Seattle was a mess – I ain’t going to disagree with you there. But… if you scroll down my wall you’ll see an interesting post about who’s actually been causing the mayhem – and, according to a story in the Washington Post, it is apparently not “antifa” – it’s been caused mostly by ‘local hooligans, sometimes gangs, sometimes just individuals that are trying to take advantage of an opportunity.’ According to the article, the alt-right “Boogaloo” movement has played a part in the violence, too.
From my own experience participating in the local BLM rally in Burlington, the only maybe threatening and intimidating element I saw there were the half a dozen Trump supporters standing off to the side with their rifles, self-appointed to “keep the peace.” The actual police officers there – whom I thanked for their support – were very calm and friendly – and the protest was entirely peaceful.
The racism and hate crimes in this country need to end. Now. None of us who are true Americans can allow it to continue for even one more day. And when the bulk of our president’s Fourth of July speech is loaded with division and hate for his own constituents – instead of the compassion and understanding we all sorely need right now – we need to call him on it.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell
If you don’t have to worry about looking suspicious when you walk around eating Skittles, wearing a hoodie when you go on a run through a suburban neighborhood when you carry assault rifles into a government building then you know white privilege – Karen Molenaar Terrell
Missing Dad and Moz today, but so glad they’re not here to see what’s happening to our poor country.
I spent an hour today driving around to the places Dad and I used to go on our drives together – feeling the echo of his presence still there, talking to me. I had a flashback of a time when a young black man in a hoodie stopped to open the door for Dad, and I remember how Dad took the time to stop and thank him before he went into the building. It was a brief exchange – very quick – but the power of the brotherly love I felt being exchanged between Dad and the young man is still with me.
Thinking of Moz and imagining her shaking with indignation and anger at the injustice and racism we’re seeing – just as she did when I was a little girl and we encountered a racist at the Sears store. The man had nodded his head towards a little black family and said they should be shopping in their own store. When Moz understood what he was saying she was furious – “They have as much right to be here as you or me!” she told him, trembling with rage. The man realized, then, who he was dealing with in Moz and got all red in the face and scurried away. That was a moment I will never forget – it had a huge impact on me. I remember feeling very proud to be Moz’s daughter.
I remember how Moz and Dad celebrated the night Obama got elected – they were both so happy. Dad said he never thought he’d live long enough to see an African-American in the White House – his whole face was lit up with pride in his country. Moz had tears in her eyes with the joy she felt that night.
I’m so grateful I was raised by these people – so grateful I was brought up to see beyond the color of someone’s skin to what was in the heart of people. My parents gave me a kind of freedom with that.
You can’t argue with Love. There’s nothing in Love to insult, offend or attack. There’s nothing in Love to be hurt or to hit back. Love doesn’t see skin color – not white or black. Love fills all space – and that’s a fact. – Karen Molenaar Terrell
How many black men have to die for things to change?
What’s on your mind? Facebook asks. And I look at the little box and wonder how I can possibly put into words what I’m feeling right now – I’m not sure there are any words big enough for my feelings. Our world is in desperate need – in desperate need of love, of honesty and kindness and wisdom. And my heart breaks for our world and for all its creatures. Love bless us all – each and every one. – Karen Molenaar Terrell
“Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals.” – Mary Baker Eddy