Mary Beth Writes

3/1/2022

It's the first day of March and it has come in like a lamb. Sunshine, bright skies, 40 degrees. Our porch is so hot this afternoon one needs a hot pad to touch the cat.

Most of my adult life I have been wondering about this thing my sister-in-law Lindy said. She was a therapist. (Lindy died young.) She said that in family therapy, when people begin to say their secrets, the family becomes chaotic, angry, awkward, and messy. It’s a dangerous time because no one knows how to act in the “new” family that no longer leans on the old props.

Who are our venerated heroes if we say aloud that this relative assaulted other relatives? If we tell the assaulted ones to say nothing and they don’t - are we fine? What happen if one daughter won’t go along with this old strategy? If a family member drinks too much and becomes irrational but none of us mention it – what’s going to happen when one of us does?

Telling secrets disrupts the traditions by which we live. When one person calls out another everyone takes a side. Why say that now, he’s been dead for years? Yeah, we had one redhead in our family of brunettes and dad was hard to get along with but there was that friendly redheaded guy whom some of us remember ... We’ve been an honest and noble family ever since our venerable founder stole the entire factory’s weekly pay envelopes and sailed to America that night. Who was BFF with the local politicians who figured out how to arrest POC on trumped up charges, incarcerate them, then utilize brutal chain gangs to do for free the labor formerly done by enslaved people?

If no one tells the secrets then everything stays the way it always was - and that worked so well for the (generally) older, whiter, richer and often male people in the family. And the community. And the nation. Keeping power by not saying truth has propped and preserved generations of power among those who already have the power.

..

So yeah, this is what I’ve been thinking about this week. Since the 1960’s and 70’s a lot of people have been telling their secrets and it has liberated some, confused many, and made some people dangerously angry.

And now this. We have seen a lot of strife and violence in our lives, but I don’t think we’ve ever quite seen a vulnerable nation stand up as powerfully as Ukraine has done this past week. We are witnessing an astonishing pushback from people who seem to be done with intimidation. At incredible risk, they have somehow organized themselves into this moment.

This week I googled LGBT Rights in Ukraine and in Russia. I won’t tell you all the numbers – you can look, too if you care, but it is fascinating. In Ukraine over the past 20 years, just like here, the percentage of people who support LGBTQ legal rights has increased. In 2010 it was 28% support. In 2017 it was 56% support. Russia has gone backwards. 60% of people were anti-LGBTQ rights in 2002. 74% were anti- in 2013.

What happens when ordinary humans see themselves as worthy of rights, independence, and full human agency? What happens might be what we are watching.

Yes, there are plenty of fissures and cracks and this is not a story with an ending we know. There are weeks and months and more to go. 

But maybe we as free citizens with our cell phones and twitter and 24/7 news and our proud out-ness about truths early generations hid - maybe something new is happening here. Maybe we are seeing a different ending to the story of how people live in a political system.

Brought to us by a writer, thinker, comedian, and dancer - and his family - and 43 million of his country men and women.

 

Friend Michol sent this to me:

Thin Ice

— after W.S. Merwin

 

The trouble with despair is the drowning.

You need a clear mind to rescue yourself.

 

When you scuttle past warning signs. 

When you’re lured by tremors in dark depths. 

When your world splinters under your weight. 

When you fall through. 

 

To survive your body’s panic: 

first, exhale. 

 

Still your thrashing.

Slow your breathing. 

 

To grasp the steadiness in front of you, 

you have to let go all longing to become

numb, your strange anchor in ache.

 

With what strength remains 

in your legs, propel yourself forward. 

Emerge undrowned on solid ground. 

 

Upright, move toward warming light.

Take the clay cup of chamomile tea. 

This is called practicing freedom.

by 

- Lailah Dainin Shima

...

 On a funnier note: Did you know that before Zelenskyy was president he was on Dancing With the Stars/ Ukraine, 2006?

https://youtu.be/TlJywp7E3Gw

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Comments

Mary Beth, A parishioner reads a bio to the congregation of someone every week during Black History month. I read yours of Ms. Judge. Most were surprised, many looked uncomfortable…we usually do a successful musician or such. It was an important look back to colonial times. Thank you.
Mary Beth's picture

That's excellent to hear! After I wrote it (after, sheesh) I read the book about her and learned so much more about that time and ethos.

I'm reading the book now and like you I'm learning a tremendous amount of information about that era and its people. Very well written. I highly recommend it.
Mary Beth's picture

"Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave Ona Judge" by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. Yes, it is not a hard read but one comes away with such a strong image of the time and of Ona Judge's courage to endure.

Profound message. Thank you!!!

It is 67 degrees at 4:30 PM here on March 1. This was a really thought provoking piece. Wasn't quite sure what the Merwin reference was about. I attended a poetry reading that he gave in Chicago 15 years ago - he's one of my favorite poets.
Mary Beth's picture

I agree about the Merwin reference. I was posting it, thought HE was the writer, had to go back and fix that. Now we have a mystery for tomorrow...

Thank you. Patricia

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WHITE CAKE!

The picture is our wedding cake, made by my friend Karen, who drove it from Indiana to Chicago on the hottest day of that year. It was in the back seat so their two little boys had to ride in front (remember when kids could ride in front?). They got lost in the city but I didn't know that for years because Karen and her husband start early and had time to get lost and then figure it out. Sometimes wedded bliss is a lot of work. 

The following story and recipe is not about the wedding cake, but it is the photo I have...

...

6/30/2022

How Do We Remember What We Remember?

6/30/2022

The Jan 6 Hearings, huh? This is an amazing moment in US history and I’m trying to understand our incredibly intense response. Four of 10 voters have watched at least some of the hearings, which is 20,000,000 people. It’s not just me that can’t look away.

Our Terrible Canoe Adventure

The eagle photo was taken by Len - but not on this trip! 

6/23/2022

We are fine but I have a tale to tell.

American Successes / American Failures

Did you ever have to tell the truth when it was hard? Did you ever lie to avoid a hard situation?  Did you ever know a hard, wrong thing but you told no one because it was going to be complicated and some people wouldn’t believe you and you might end up disrespected or worse for “telling on” someone else?

Most people work hard at learning truth-telling when they are 4 and 5-years old.

Molecule Moving

6/8/2022     

I didn’t know a Panoply of Dental Moments was coming my way this week, but such is life with teeth. One can brush, floss, slosh, and swish - but if one’s teeth want to crumble, they do. Yesterday I had my six-month cleaning. The hygienist said several times that I brush and floss beautifully. I was proud and thinking maybe I would give myself a “well-done” sticker when I got home. Then the dentist came in to do the check-up and said two fillings had cracks around them and needed to be replaced.

Rough Stories, Tough Week

6/1/2022 

Last Friday evening on PBS Tonight David Brooks said something like this. “I am afraid for all of us. The news just pummels us.”

There are as many tough stories as there are fingers on a closed fist. The shooting in Uvalde. The shooting in Buffalo. The corrupt power of the NRA and other obscene wealth-mongers that are destroying our society from the inside of elected reps’ pockets outwards. Ukraine. Global climate mayhem. Oh, and covid is everywhere. Less traumatic for most; long covid for some. So that’s six fingers on that pugilistic fist.

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