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Saturday, November 26, 2016

As Ready As I'll Ever Be

Migraine prevented me from cobbling together homemade treats on Friday evening, but grocery store treats seem to be filling the bill, as far as today’s customers are concerned on this Shop Local Saturday 2016. 

Except for a couple bursts of sunshine, the sky has been overcast and grey. All the better, perhaps, to showcase holiday lights. My little tree is twinkling away, and the 4,000 lights on the village tree will be lit in a couple of hours.

But the best, from my point of view, begins 20 minutes from the time I tap out these words: the decorated, horse-drawn wagon will be giving rides around downtown beginning at 4 p.m. I hope to get at least one decent picture of that to include later as a postscript -- because everything in life is better with horses.


Okay, my attempts to photograph the horses in the dark were none too successful (although I'm proud that this is one Northport tradition I started and that lines were long with families waiting for the village tour)...

...but the tree lighting was truly MAGNIFICENT!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

We Should Not Be Wall-Builders, Either

[What do you do when you can't sleep? I read and write.]

Saturday Morning Reflections

We who do not want to see a physical wall built between our country and Mexico must be careful not to build a social wall between ourselves and the Americans whose different views and votes carried the day on Tuesday, because “They” are not a homogeneous block but a diverse group, with diverse reasons for voting as they did.

·     Some are party loyalists and would have voted for the Republican candidate whoever he or she had been, and a certain segment of Republican party loyalists are of the all-government-is-bad stripe. (Ideologically, they are libertarians.) This group will always vote their ideology.

·     Others are one-issue voters (e.g., anti-abortion). One friend told me her group of Catholic women friends fall into this camp. All other issues, all other statements were unimportant to them.

·     Some “liked some of what he had to say” (e.g., “he talked about jobs”) enough that they could somehow set aside the rest. One woman told me she tried, in looking at both candidates, to set aside personality and character and look only at issues. Apparently there were people who could do that.

·     A very large segment flocked to the Republican Party because they had been feeling invisible and the Republican candidate paid attention to them. Most of the people in this group (amazingly! This came out in post-election coverage) won’t even care all that much if he fails to make good on his promises. Mobilization of the overlooked (overlooked by media and by mainstream politicos alike) is the #1 explanation favored by mainstream journalists in the election aftermath. I say it is significant, but it can only serve, in my view, as one explanation among others. We human beings crave simple explanations, but life is not always simple. Yes, this is an important factor (and we must all draw a lesson from it), but it is not the only factor.

·     Don’t forget that many who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary voted Republican in the election! Crossover vote from Democrat to Republican accounts for people (1) who believe that American workers have not benefited from trade agreements (I did NOT cross over, but I also believe that the agreements have benefited corporations at the expense of workers both at home and abroad; NAFTA was my biggest disappointment of the Bill Clinton administration) and (2) who want a president not beholden to the status quo.

·     Even the anti-Hillary contingent cannot be dismissed simply as anti-woman or anti-feminist. I voted for her but have never fully trusted either of the Clintons since NAFTA. Be honest, my dear fellow feminists: was she your ideal candidate? Not mine, but I voted for her because I mistrusted her opponent far, far more on almost every issue and could not stomach his behavior or rhetoric.

·     This brings us to racism and sexism and bigotry of all kinds. Undoubtedly, those played a part, and undoubtedly racism persists in this country, as does sexism and homophobia and xenophobia, etc. Unfortunately, too, the worst segment of that contingent now feels it has a mandate to act out its hate. And no, we cannot stand back in silence, and we cannot hide fearfully in our homes. We must oppose hatred and bigotry and persecution wherever we find them. But it’s important we not characterize half our country’s population on the basis of what I have to believe is a minority splinter contingent.

Nothing in my list above is meant to excuse odious speech or behavior on the part of the candidate or any of his supporters.

But now, two conclusions I hope you will share with me: First, supporters of the new president-elect cannot be dismissed as a monolithic demonic army of hate-mongers. And second, to prevent the social disintegration we so deeply fear it is important that we not build walls that would escalate divisions and turn our beloved country into warring camps.

President Obama never fails to amaze me, and he and the First Lady, Michelle, are the examples I would have us take for our own. We need to do as they have always done and continue to do: to oppose bigotry and hatred at every opportunity, to continue to listen to others, to demand and bestow respect for and on human beings, and to model the behavior we want to see surrounding us. I hope and fervently pray that the hour and a half the president-elect spent with the president the other day will have a lasting and beneficial effect on the future behavior of the man who will next inhabit the White House. I also hope, (somewhat desperately, I must admit: these are ugly, frightening times) that the president-elect will be inspired speak out publicly to rein in the worst behavior of his supporters. The sooner, the better. In fact, I hope it will have already happened before this post goes online.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Let's Tell It Like It REALLY Is

This year’s Republican candidate for the office of President of the United States is admired by his supporters for “telling it like it is.” Yesterday on the radio I heard a young college woman say that “our country is in crisis and we can’t afford ‘political correctness.’”

I saw red. 

The term ‘political correctness’ gets my goat. People say ‘politically correct’ when they suspect some truth is being covered over, and they say ‘politically incorrect,’ with a smirk, when taking pride in being offensive. At the risk of offending, let me say that the phrase makes me want to puke, whoever uses it, in whatever context.

What was the American language like before this nasty little term came into common usage?

We spoke of civil discourse, and we tried to be civil in our speech. We attempted to remain polite when provoked, and when anger got the better of us, we were ashamed afterward. We expected more of ourselves and one another – at least when sober. Of course, we fell from grace now and then -- we are human -- but drunken ravings were not the standard for public speech.

Manners and decency were respected in national life, as in smaller groups and communities across the country. Abusive name-calling intended to humiliate or belittle occurred, but most of us recognized it for what it was, because we were taught, by parents and teachers, to avoid hurting other people’s feelings. In turn, we taught our children the same lessons.

This country has seen crisis before. The United States began with a Revolution, survived wars, and struggled through crushing economic hardship during the Great Depression. We have been divided as a nation more than once in our past. Political campaigns have at times been ugly, and political cartoons have stooped to cruel caricature. But when has a candidate for the highest office in the land made public statements insulting women, minorities, people with disabilities, and military veterans?

And what is there in such statements that does anything to resolve crisis?

Cruelly inflicting pain is not courage. Spewing abuse is not honesty. Thoughtlessness is not any kind of moral standard, and preying on fear and encouraging hatred is not “doing what needs to be done.” Neither is any of that some kind of trivial, just slightly naughty “political incorrectness.” Rude, boorish, cruel, hateful, hurtful, and inflammatory statements need to be called what they are.

Speech is behavior, and inflammatory speech does not heal a nation.

“We don’t have time for political correctness,” the young college girl said. We’re in crisis, she believes. Given the reality of crisis, I would ask the following questions:

·      Do we have time for name-calling and scapegoating?

·      Do we have time to escalate fear and deepen divisions in our country, driving people further apart?

·      Do we have time to alienate sincere lovers of America on either side of the aisle – or out in the vestibule?

·      And if national leaders don’t model for young Americans minimum standards of decency, will we have time to start over, or will it be too late?