Road Trip

Five sandy-colored cranes saunter through
a front yard in Manchester, Michigan
A dead coyote stretches across a lane
on a highway in the Montana sun
A white shape – a giant plastic bag maybe? –
sits in lily pads on a pond – and then
it fluffs its wings and it’s a swan!
In front of us, something tawny skips across the road
and into a root beer forest – a white-tailed fawn!
“RESIST HATE” reads a bumper sticker in Wisconsin
“THERE WILL BE A WALL” reads a tee shirt in S. Dak
“CA DRMN” reads a license plate in Michigan
“WALL DRUGS” reads a billboard in Idaho’s outback
A rangy motorcycling tourist in leather, his skin
weathered by rain and wind, sleet, sun and snow,
speaks with a Dutch accent or maybe German,
in the Crazy Horse exhibit, and does he know
that an American tourist is watching him and
he’s part of the exhibit for her, and does she know
that she’s part of the exhibit for the folks from France?
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Semi-Annual Job Review for Our President

Semi Annual Job Review
Dear Pres. Trump –

Bless your heart. You must be feeling mightily frustrated. You’ve discovered by now that being President of the U.S. isn’t at all the same as being the CEO of a corporation. You can’t just fire people from citizenship in your country if they don’t do what you order them to do. You can’t boss Senators and Representatives around like they’re your employees. You can’t scramble around the laws of the land like they don’t apply to you. You’ve discovered that you don’t actually own America. You are not the boss. You’re supposed to work for the people now. You’re supposed to be their servant. You are the employee. Your actions can be questioned. Your sketchy alliances with foreign powers can be scrutinized. You can be removed from your position.

I know. I don’t blame you if it’s all making you a little grumpy. But take heart. There’s hope for you. You can learn. It’s not impossible. You can take this opportunity to actually make the country a better place for your employers. Maybe you’ll hear what Bernie Sanders has to say about health insurance for all – and you’ll be like, “Oh! What a great idea! Let’s do that one!” Or maybe you’ll take the time to talk to the athletes who are using their First Amendment rights and kneeling, and you’ll find out why they’re doing that – and you’ll be, like, “Oh! Let’s see how we can fix that for you!” Maybe you’ll visit Puerto Rico and realize it’s, like, actually a part of the United States – and maybe you’ll decide to do what you can to help the people there. Heck, maybe you’ll decide to do what you can to help your neighbors who are dealing with death and destruction in Mexico, too.

– Karen, one of your employers

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

Today’s Assignment

Class,

Here’s today’s assignment: Tell me what you most respect about your choice of presidential candidate, what you think are your candidate’s greatest accomplishments (please include specific examples), what you consider your candidate’s greatest strengths and biggest weaknesses, and why you think your candidate would make a good President. Avoid any reference to an opposing candidate (you will lose points if you do this) and personal attacks.

Have fun!

Mrs. Terrell

***

I will be voting for Hillary Clinton this election. Although I went to the Democratic caucus as a Bernie Sanders supporter, and would like to have seen him win the Democratic nomination, I have to admit that Hillary Clinton has won me over in the last month. The morning after the second debate I woke up realizing that I really WANTED to vote for Hillary Clinton. There was something about the way she handled herself during the debate that really impressed me. She was criticized by some for being too unemotional – but it occurred to me that if she’d shown emotion, she would have been criticized for being an “emotional female.” I liked, too, the way she talked to individuals in the audience face-to-face – I liked how she talked to the Muslim woman and addressed her concerns about discrimination.

What I most respect about Hillary Clinton is her commitment to doing what she thinks is the right thing to do – her “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” attitude about the issues that matter to her. She’s been demonized, threatened with bodily harm, lied about, and ridiculed – but none of it seems to phase her. She keeps her eye on the goal and keeps moving forward.

Her greatest accomplishments? As First Lady, her work in helping to bring health care to impoverished children through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program; as a senator from New York , her work to bring aid to the first responders who got sick after 9-11, and to bring $21 billion in federal aid to New York to help it re-build after the attack; and, as Secretary of State, her work in keeping nuclear weapons out of Iran, and in creating avenues for women, globally, to become empowered. Hillary Clinton has admitted she’s better at the “servant” part than the “public” part. She’s more a Clydesdale than a prancing Lipizzaner. She’s one of those people who has worked for years behind the scenes – forging progressive policies, working for children, the poor, and the disenfranchised.

This brings me to what I feel are her greatest strengths and her biggest weaknesses: She’s great at policy-forging, and at behind-the-scenes negotiations. She’s tenacious. When she sees there’s a need, she finds a way to meet it. But this also might tend to make her focus narrowed – I don’t know that she always sees what’s going on in the periphery – I think she was blind-sided, for instance, by the strong support Bernie Sanders amassed during his campaign. I wish she were as much “public” as “servant” – I wish she held rallies in football stadiums à la Bernie, and had the ability to rouse the troops. But if I have to choose between “public” and “servant” – the “servant” part of a politician is more important to me than the “public” part.

I think Hillary Clinton will be a good President. Maybe even a great one. I believe she genuinely cares about people, and wants to help. I believe she wants to leave the world a better place than she found it. I believe she has the intelligence and savvy and heart to do this.

todays-assignment

 

Putting the Puzzle Back Together

“We should remember that the world is wide; that there are a thousand million different human wills, opinions, ambitions, tastes, and loves; that each person has a different history, constitution, culture, character, from all the rest; that human life is the work, the play, the ceaseless  action and reaction upon each other of these different atoms. Then, we should go forth into life with the smallest expectations, but with the largest patience; with a keen relish for and appreciation of everything beautiful, great, and good, but with a temper so genial that the friction of the world shall not wear upon our sensibilities; with an equanimity so settled that no passing breath nor accidental disturbance shall agitate or ruffle it; with a charity broad enough to cover the whole world’s evil, and sweet enough to neutralize what is bitter in it…”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Putting the Puzzle Back Together Again

We both hold pieces to the puzzle –
you have yours and I have mine
and to solve the puzzle we need
to come together and share
what we know and work as a team.

You say “stick to the facts” and tell
me you don’t need to listen
to what I have to share, but you do
and I do, too, if we want to put
all the pieces of the puzzle in place.

I agree you are an expert on your
bits of the puzzle, but you are not
an expert on mine. You have not
lived my life, seen what I’ve seen,
or learned what I’ve learned.

So let’s share, shall we? You share
your perspective, and I’ll share mine,
and we’ll learn from each other.
I’m thinking we can only gain from
this. Gain in understanding of
America. Gain in understanding of life.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

puzzle-flag