Saturday, February 06, 2021

Our Son Paul's Last Speech

Today is the birthday of our Paul who passed away in his sleep 9 years ago. It's hard to believe it's been nine years since we have heard his laughter, his jokes and puns, his counsel, and just him, being Paul.

When we drove out to where he had lived in Northern Kentucky, that icy January, to arrange for his funeral, someone gave us a CD with a talk he had given just a month or two before. After losing his sight at the age of 22, completing college, and not finding a job, Paul began giving talks on living our Catholic faith, our faith in the good God. He used to tell me, "God is love."

One of the things Paul talks about in this speech is having no fear anymore. I believe he meant it. I believe he was ready for whatever happened to call him home to God. But I also think God gave us fear for a reason, and that it's not to be dismissed completely; but then, I never had the strength of faith which Paul had at the end, so that's just me and my disclaimer. Here's a link to the talk if you're interested in hearing it. It's 37:54 minutes, so grab a drink or plan to fit it into a free slot in your day or evening. God bless! Paul Myers' Speech 12/15/11

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Three Books for Black History Month

Here are three books I would like to share for Black History Month. These three books go back to the early and mid-1900's. History helps us to know how we got where we are and also to see patterns.
The Warmth of Other Suns, The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson
Family Properties, Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America, by Beryl Satter
The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill, The Untold Story of Arthur Shores and His Family's Fight for Civil Rights, by Helen Shores Lee and Barbara S Shores, with Denis George
The first book, The Warmth of Other Suns, follows three different families who migrated from the Jim Crow South, with its segregation and lynchings, to the North and to the West, where they thought they would be safer. And it shows us what they encountered there, and how it would affect their lives and the lives of all who had done the same: only allowed to live in certain blocks of the city, and the crowded conditions that caused, and if someone dared to move one house over from the invisible lines, they would be subject to the violence of mobs of white people coming to destroy their property and chase them out of where they "didn't belong". Even though it's tough emotionally, and a long book, it's an easy read, in that, it's such a strong human interest story of real people by a masterful writer. I first read it on Kindle, and I remember where I was when I read some of the different parts of it. I more recently bought the print book so I can read parts of it again at leisure in my living room.
Family Properties is by a woman whose Jewish attorney father fought for the rights of black people in Chicago to own land, and to be able to improve their crowded conditions and about the legal but unethical theft of their properties, and the awful struggles he faced, which of course, is even more about the awful struggles of the people who were forced to live in such conditions. I read a third of the book and it became more technical about real estate, and I let it slide, but I'm glad I read some of it. I feel like, even in high school and college, students are sometimes assigned an article or part of a book; and I learned a lot. I originally read it on Kindle, but then bought the book, and I hope to read more of it.
I am currently 8 chapters into the book, The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill, The Untold Story of Arthur Shores and His Family's Fight for Civil Rights. The book was written by the two daughters of Attorney Arthur Shores, the first black man in Alabama to fight civil cases in an otherwise white court of law. The body of the book begins with Helen Shores' recollection, "I can still recall the pinging sound bullets made when someone in a passing car shot the window in our recreation room. The thick glass would usually prevent the window from shattering, but the bullets would pierce through and lodge in our interior walls..."
I know some people say, why? "Why do we have to go over all that? Things are different today." But we need to know what is possible...both in man's selfish and greedy nature and in man's courageous nature. We need to know why...why and how did the poverty of some parts of our urban centers develop? And we need to be ready to recognize those aspects of systems which still need change.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Loving people in spite of seeing the world through different lenses

Jesus told us to love our neighbor but how do we do that? We know about feeding the poor and so on, but what about in our everyday relationships with people we don't agree with? 

"Love means look for good," I heard writer and speaker Denis Waitley say, many years ago in a seminar. 

There are a myriad of ways we can answer the question of how to love. A book I once read spoke of three A's. I only remember two of the A's for sure right now, acceptance and approval. I think the third was probably appreciation. (I wish I could remember the title or author of the book, but I cannot.) 

As I first read that book, long ago, I remember feeling that yes, I could accept people as having been created by a loving God and that he ultimately wants each and every one of us to go to heaven; but what about approval? What if I think the way someone thinks or the things this person does are wrong? Well, we don't have to approve of everything; we can look for things we do approve. We can, as Denis Waitley said, "look for good". 

Most people we meet or interact with – for example, relatives, neighbors, co-workers – have some virtues or customs we can approve of. In addition, even if we don't approve of someone's views or some of their actions, there's another thing to consider also, and it's very important:  We don't know anyone's intentions. Only God knows what is in anyone's heart. 

So, we can accept people as God's most beautiful creation. We can approve of their good qualities, while not judging their intention regarding values we don't share in common. 

And how do we appreciate them? 

We can appreciate people by showing them gratitude for their service and their gifts. By gifts, I don't mean presents, so much as their talents and contributions, be it big or small, be it some great work or a smile. 

We can also appreciate their humanness. If they are suffering, we can empathize with them. We can let them know that we hear them or see them, that they are of value to us. 

 All of these things can be done whether we are avoiding our differences (as we often do in the workplace, and as we must do on various Facebook groups I'm on) or whether we discuss our differences. My neighbor and I can discuss gardening and our yards, and bring each other mail that was mis-delivered; argue about some of our opinions; and rejoice over one another's new car, job, or job promotion. Those things are not mutually exclusive. 

We can disagree with people, even strongly, and at the same time, practice acceptance, approval, and appreciation. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Regarding the Events of January 6, 2021 in the United States Capitol & the Presidential Election

A variety of people were involved in the breech of the capitol on January 6th of 2021. Some people at first claimed the people involved were part of "antifa", a name given to unorganized people who are against facism but who have sometimes committed acts of violence against property amidst otherwise peaceful protests. But no one in authority has identified any of the people in that way who were involved in the breech of the capitol building. However, some of the people involved in the breech of the capitol building have been identified as known white supremacists.

Another thing some people claimed was that the protests were like the protests of 2020. But the actual breech of the capitol building definitely was not. Those who stormed the capitol building, the place of our national government, did not just walk in, as we first heard. They battered, and climbed, and forced their way in, like an enemy invading a fortress of a foreign country.

Some of the invaders called for the hanging of Vice President Pence. Some of them expressed anger when they could not find congress members, who had fled or hidden. Some of them battered police officers, one of whom died.

Some of the people involved said that President Trump had sent them; that's how they saw it. While most Republican lawmakers, a week later, were not in favor of impeachment, many of them stated, along with the Democrats, that Trump had incited the mob.

Many protesters had come because they believed the election was not valid. But this election was not fraught with fraud according to the laws and judicial system of our country. Wherever accusations were made or trials were brought forth, they were addressed. There were recounts and investigations. No court of law, no recount, no governors or state election officers, even among those who were Republican like Trump, found any substantial fraud. They found no fraud or errors that would even begin to change the results in any state. 

The Supreme Court, with many of its judges appointed by Republicans, and several appointed by Trump, would not hear a case that the State of Texas had brought against several states where President-elect Biden had won the election. The Supreme Court didn't find the arguments which were being brought against those states to even be within the jurisdiction of a court. 

Here, in this country,  elections are subject to the rule of law. We have every reason to rest assured that this was a valid election.