mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“We Did What We Could”: With Suffering All Around Us, Some Lessons Are Learned Too Late

In December 2001, my father sent his first-ever Christmas card to me.

He even signed it, “Love, Dad.” Unprecedented. Throw some tinsel on my head and watch me sparkle like a snow globe; that’s how happy I was.

Dad came from the “show, don’t tell” school of parenting. He supported his family and shoveled the snow from the walkway before any of us were out of bed. His love was to be understood.

His postscript on that 2001 card made clear that despite the arrival of his one-time-only Christmas greeting, nothing had changed.

“I got a card from the wife of a man I used to work with,” he wrote. “She was at the church when you spoke, and she said you were the best they ever had. Don’t get the big head.”

What he didn’t mention was that he had attended my speech, too, delivered in the church of my childhood. He also skipped the part about how he had grinned through the whole darn thing.

Each December, I pull out Dad’s Christmas card and prop it up on my desk. He’s been gone for six years now, and the sight of his cramped handwriting makes him feel a little less far away. His admonishment about this head of mine is a reminder that in his own way, he loved me very much.

I spent way too much energy wishing my father would just come out and say it. Well into my version of adulthood, I’d end every phone call with, “I love you, Dad.” His response: “Yep.” Sometimes he’d mix it up by saying, “OK.”

Click.

Once in a while, I’d push back. “A-a-a-a-nd you love me, too?” His response every time: “Well, if you already know it, there’s no need for me to say it.”

Click.

When he finally wrote “Love, Dad” on that card, there was no victory. It was his second Christmas without my mother, and his heart was broken. How I longed for the days when Mom was still around and Dad’s “yep” was code for what he meant to say. Some things we learn too late.

This has been a long year for many Americans. Even if our own lives bobbed along without incident, it was hard to ignore the suffering of those around us. We did what we could. We attended funerals and hospital rooms, wrote checks and volunteered, worried ourselves sick and bowed our heads in prayer. Some of us smiled for no reason, and strangers felt a little less alone.

This Christmas season, the tragedy in Newtown, CT, altered the holiday for all but the most hardhearted among us. One minute we were shopping for stocking stuffers; the next minute we were trying to remember to breathe. Twenty young children and six adults who risked their lives to save them were dead. What? What? It was that horrible, that unbelievable. We never will be the same.

And yet, Christmas came.

Now the new year barrels toward us, a force of promise and uncertainty. May we welcome it with gratitude that we are here to greet it.

As I write this, snow is threatening to bury our house here in Ohio. My youngest daughter and her boyfriend spent the morning on cellphones, trying to reschedule canceled flights home. Halfheartedly, I try to hide my joy.

They are in a hurry, but I’m old enough to be on the other side of that impatience. All of our family was happy and healthy this Christmas. I know that kind of luck runs out.

I also know that my daughter’s heavy sighs mean only that she is young, with plans that did not include two more nights with her mother. I will not misread her signals, nor will I complain. Her love is understood.

For that, we can thank her grandfather for a lesson once learned too late.

 

By: Connie Schultz, The National Memo, December 26, 2012

December 27, 2012 Posted by | Guns | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Basic Civility: Who Will Teach Congress to Behave?

To make sense of the  vitriol, lack of cooperative spirit and just bad manners being displayed on  Capitol Hill, look no further than Massachusetts.

It’s not that the Bay State is unusually mean or even  rude. Visitors flocking to the Cape, the Berkshires or Boston’s North End will  surely find friendly people. But recent news in Massachusetts demonstrates just  how high our tolerance for—even celebration of—bad behavior has become.

The Boston Globe informs us  that the Boston School Committee is drafting rules for basic civility  at its  public meetings. This is not a response to shouting and  disruption by children,  who by definition are still learning how to  behave in public and how to  adjudicate disagreements with honor and  mutual respect. No, the school  committee’s actions are a sad response  to the heckling and all-around disrespect  shown by adults—parents and  teachers—who have been unhappy with school closings  and other matters  before the committee. Disruptive students have been at the  meetings,  too, which makes it worse, since the lesson they are learning at the   meetings is that it’s acceptable to shout and be rude to display one’s   unhappiness with a public policy. One protestor last December yelled  “liar”  at Superintendent Carol R. Johnson. Was this individual merely  parroting the  behavior of Rep. Joe Wilson, who yelled, “You lie!” at the President of the  United States during a live, nationally-televised speech in the House chamber?

Remarkably, some of the adult activists have not been  shamed at the  fact that they must be treated as recalcitrant children. The Globe  quotes the teacher’s union  president, Richard Stutman, jokingly  comparing the decorum rules to Stalinist  Russia. That’s not only an  insult to the people who lived in the brutal  dictatorial regime, but an  insult to public education. Surely, teachers do not  instruct their  students that self-control and civility are akin to  totalitarianism.

But if the school meetings aren’t distressing enough,  Massachusetts  can look to its professional football team, the New England  Patriots.  The team recently signed Albert Haynesworth, whose behavior, on and  off  the field, was so poor that the Washington Redskins couldn’t stomach  him  anymore. In sports, the bad boys are often given a pass if their  on-field  passes are complete. But Haynesworth—who was paid $35 million  to play in 20  games and didn’t always show up for practice because he  didn’t like the coach’s  defense strategy—became just too much for the  ‘Skins, who traded him to the  Patriots for a fifth-round draft pick. At  least Haynesworth won’t be a double burden to the Pats, since Randy  Moss, another behavior problem, left the team last year and announced  Tuesday he would retire from the sport. Defenders note that Patriots  coach Bill Belichick whipped Moss into shape. Haynesworth could be a  heavier list; at one point, he was juggling four different legal cases  against him even as he feuded publically with his coach.

We should expect more from members of Congress, who have  been  through campaigns and theoretically should know better. But the  public—even  as they deride the dysfunction and bad manners in the  Capitol—are enablers,  rewarding malcontented lawmakers with campaign  contributions. Republican Wilson  and former Democratic  Rep. Alan Grayson, who famously accused Republicans of  wanting people  to die as a way of saving on health costs, were two of the  biggest  fundraisers last election cycle, with much of the cash coming from out   of state. Grayson lost, but the message was clear: acting up is  profitable. And  both Democrats and Republicans are raising money off  the recent uproar over  Republican Rep. Allen West, a Tea Party movement favorite who sent an email to  a colleague, Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz,  calling her “the most  vile” member of the House. Wasserman Schultz had  criticized West’s approach to  Medicare, although she did not name him  in the floor speech that led West to  accuse Wasserman-Schultz of not  acting like “a Lady.”

The Boston School Committee may be able to teach civility  to adults  who apparently never learned how to sit still and listen. And perhaps   Belichick can control Haynesworth. Who will do the same for members of   Congress?

 

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, August 2, 2011

August 2, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Democracy, Democrats, GOP, Government, Lawmakers, Politics, Public Opinion, Republicans, Right Wing, Teaparty | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: