Driving across the prairies this morning I was struck by the unity of the sky and the land, of God’s creation. There was a oneness, a seamless scene as I moved along. As I thought of it I thought again of the shattered world in which we live. Sometimes it seems as though everything is falling apart. Part of that may have been triggered by the death of a couple of friends. Funerals are postponed because families are so wide spread geographically and everyone is busy with life. Trying to find a time to make it come together is a logistical nightmare sometimes. Several years ago I remember doing a service for a family who had come from California to bury the ashes of their grandmother who had died two years before.
Families also face this dis-unity. It isn’t strange to hear people talk about children or siblings or parents that live so far away they have drifted apart and have little in common any more. In fact the whole concept of family responsibility is often minimized as unimportant and impossible to manage in our frenetic society. Why else do we have nursing homes and care centers.
We certainly have faced that fractured feeling on the national scene lately. The open hostility is something you can feel. One psychiatrist on a news program said he sees more people with PTSD and deeper stress levels and fear. I watched a news clip on hate groups that have risen in numbers since 2014 the reporter said. Most of the groups are white supremacist or anti-semitic. Those who analyze these things talk about the great fear that has been stirred up in this country and actually around the world, in Europe as well. The world seems to be spiraling out of control. In a restaurant one day I heard a young woman talk about traveling to Europe which set off another person telling her the people there would as soon shoot her as look at her.
There used to be a time, at least we thought so, when every one and everything had its place. Now the thousands of immigrants pouring in from Africa across the Mediterranean, from the Middle East across the Adriatic Sea and the lands of Eastern Europe, and across our own borders the south, are changing the world landscape and nothing is as it used to be.
We are most ripe for demagogues when we are afraid and fear is contagious. In the early days of the Great Depression of the 1930s people were terribly afraid. We needed a strong leader and Franklin Delano Roosevelt seemed to fill that role, but he did it under the democratic ideals in which he believed. And he said, prophetically, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear will destroy the fabric of our society if we give in to it. We fear change as well. Most of human history we have been the most satisfied in our settlements surrounded by those like us and by cultural traditions with which we are comfortable. And yet history is change. We cannot just live in today, to identify ourselves we have to have a history both personally and nationally. “Those who cannot remember the past (or choose not to) are condemned to repeat it.”
Will this world change -- it is changing around us all the time. Perhaps we are living in another age of migration when massive numbers of people are shifting locations and moving across the geopolitical landscape. It has happened before and will again. Human kind are a restless species. Dislocation does bring disruption in our life patterns but we have to adjust without demonizing “the other” as we have been doing. My fear is always lessened by my faith and the assurance that no matter what happens God stands with us in the middle of it all.
Heard from Deanna the other day. She was visiting friends in San Francisco. So now she will head south along the 101 Highway. Blessings on her way!! She is living the "tiny" life but perhaps I have a little inkling of her life now as I travel back and forth and live out of a suitcase!
I feel as though I should open with the words, “it’s a quiet night in Lake Woebegon”, but I just heard that Lake Woebegon is no more. Garrison Keillor has retired and Prairie Home Companion is under younger management. But Lake Woebegon is a real place to those of us who live in the Mid-west. It is where we all grew up in one form or another. It is a place somewhat isolated from the mainstream, but a place where life goes on in subtle ways.
I arrived in Baker this afternoon, a beautiful sunny fall day. The church secretary gave me the garage door opener and the keys to the parsonage and I was ready to go. I brought all the makings for a tuna fish hot dish, but forgot a can opener and the milk. I got the can open (do not ask how) and mixed cottage cheese with the soup instead of milk. Tomorrow!! There is no television in the parsonage which makes sense for now when I am only part-time. No sense in wasting money. However, the wi-fi at the church doesn’t reach to the house across the street so I will have to do my checking on things from the church like e.mail, internet, etc.
I am without the news but that is not all bad. I will catch up on the days I get home or I can go online when I am at the church. Chuckling to myself I am amazed at how much we take for granted in our daily lives. The minute the game plan is changed just a little and we have to improvise it takes some thinking a’la McIver to make things work. My tuna fish casserole was just fine -- tasted good and I have a little left for tomorrow to warm up when I am on the run between churches.
When I am traveling in a car I find myself doing a lot of composing in my head. I write some pretty good pieces which never make the printed page as the prairies slide by. Occasionally I have to pull my thoughts back so I realize where I am and what I am doing.
Today I was thinking about the role of women in society. This week I watched the movie “Suffragette” with some friends and of course this election has had me thinking about women as well. I recently read where Saudi Arabia is allowing women to run for office but they still cannot drive. Of course in many of the Muslim countries there are still age-old prejudices against the education of women. In 1984, when I was in India I remember one college professor saying if they can educate a woman they can educate her family and that is a principle key to economic development.
As a young woman in the 1960s and 1970s I can remember the excitement as doors began to open in various segments of society. In college we really did begin to dream of new possibilities. Women in our church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, were first ordained in 1970. That was the year I graduated from college. Most of us were becoming teachers, secretaries or nurses, but there was the occasional young woman who was going into law or medicine. We envied their drive and their courage to enter those worlds which had been without women in any number. Little by little we saw the barriers dropping but it seemed for each step forward there were often two steps back.
Looking at my niece in her early 30s and my great-niece who is 16, I wonder what the future holds for them. They are both smart, my niece is well-educated, and they can handle anything that comes their way, but there still is a sense of hesitancy to my way of thinking. To every, “Yes, you can!” There seems to be a “but”, if not now perhaps several years down the road. Just as Barack Obama had a difficult eight years, if Hillary Clinton is elected president, it won’t be easy for her to get things done. We still suffer in this country from racism, sexism, ageism and other barriers which hold us back from the accomplishments we have every right to attempt.
As a woman, I am so glad I live in the United States of America. No place is perfect, but I have not had a difficult life nor have I ever felt as though I had been prevented from what I wanted to achieve. In many ways I may be one of the fortunate ones, but I still have to say it has been good. And along the way I have met many men who gave me every opportunity to prove and improve myself. They encouraged me and stood up for me when I needed that extra help. I have to admit I have not met an overtly sexist male until Donald Trump came along. So I know I am one of the fortunate ones.
As I watched the movie “Suffragette” there was that sense of the women of the 21st century being able to climb higher because of what these mothers and grandmothers did for us. It has never been easy, but every inch of ground we have advanced makes it easier for those who come after.
Note: Today “Zennie” and Deanna are sitting out some high winds and rain near the Sierra Nevadas before they move into California. Deanna texted that today was a day to put on some wool socks I knit her, get the tea pot going and curl up with a good book. I would say “Amen” to that thought.
Montana allowed early voting by registered voters starting on October 10. So on October 11th I went to the county clerk’s office and voted. So I am done with this whole business for another four years. I heard in the news that early voting is going on fast and furious. I think everyone is tired, worn-out with all this and just eager to be on to something else.
Trump, his bombast and his classic narcissism, have worn us all out. If he did not make the top line in the newscasts each and every day we thought we were missing something. My family in Sweden is shocked at what this election has produced in a country that prided itself on civil discourse and attention to the issues. At least in his day, Abraham Lincoln could confront a heckler by taking off his coat and offering to fight them if that is what it took. Once again I am not so sure but what the real issue here is gender-based. Just as President Obama had to face racism at every turn, even though many of his detractors would not admit it, so Hillary Clinton is having to take-on what it means to be the first woman elected to the presidency in this country. I don’t know what has taken us so long. Perhaps the “locker room” mentality is so deeply-seated that prying it out of our consciousness will take longer than we think. Yesterday I was trying to think about other leaders who were women and the first one that came to mind was Gold Meir, an early leader of Israel. There was nothing of physical beauty about Mrs. Meir, but she ran Israel with a firm hand and there was little, if any excuse made about her being a woman. Margaret Thatcher the “Iron lady” and Ronald Reagan were conservatives and political friends. Indira Gandhi ruled India as part of a family line but was assassinated, not because she was a woman, but because of political differences within the vast subcontinent of India. For some reason, in this country, I don’t feel as though we have reached equality and respect for women even yet.
I wish I had been more excited at being able to vote for the first woman nominated by a major political party for president, but Donald Trump has taken all the dignity out of the occasion. A hundred years since women got the right to vote we are at last seeing an intelligent and qualified woman step to the front and be recognized. She is not perfect, who is. You can look back to elections in the 1800s where political corruption was rife, but issues and the power of the office of the presidency brought a sheen of decency to it all. I don’t mind saying I hope Hillary wins. Our option is unthinkable.
Reading the newspaper this evening I was disappointed to see that at a recent local public question and answer forum, one of the candidates for state representative was faced with laughter and jibes when he brought up the subject of global warming in our society. I was not at the meeting so I cannot speak with any authority concerning the tone of the questions, but it was a legitimate comment to appear in a political debate in this day and time. It is an issue that has been by-passed by the political candidates at the national level in this year’s debates (although perhaps there will be more in the debates to come) and deserves more attention by us all.
The candidate talked about alternate forms of energy and was brave enough to say the words that cause many people to come out of their chairs -- the use of coal as a fuel in this country is going to come to an end. We are going to have to find other forms of energy. I think the reason his words caused nervous laughter is that we are afraid. We think if we do not say, “We have to deal with this”, the issue will go away. If scientific knowledge concerning the environment is not a piece of fabricated discussion, a ‘boogey man’ conjured by the enemies of coal, then we need to be very afraid.
And we need to be very serious about the challenge that alternate forms of energy present us. Fossil fuels will gradually disappear and wind, solar and other sources will have to come into play.
The higher waters during the storm surge caused by Hurricane Matthew are evidence that something is changing in the nature of storms and the National Oceanic service says the storms of the future will be bigger and do more damage. An earthquake in September in Oklahoma (5.6 on the richter scale) was linked to extensive fracking over many years. The governor has shut down 37 oil wells in the state. So, I am glad the candidate raised the issue. You are allowed to have your doubts concerning the level of severity, but that global warming is a fact, is a reality, that we may not discount. And fossil fuels unless better regulated have the potential to be a real hazard for human population.
The discussion on fossil fuels has been a subject for debate from the sublime to the ridiculous. A reporter for The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2015, noted:
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid knocked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s views on fossil fuels by calling Mr. McConnell himself “a lump of coal.”
Mr. Reid, who recently announced he is not seeking re-election in 2016, said he doesn’t begrudge Mr. McConnell for telling states not to go along with certain energy regulations from the Obama administration.
“He comes from a coal state,” Mr. Reid said in an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood. “I don’t mean to be mean-spirited, but he is a lump of coal. He believes that coal is the salvation of the world. I don’t believe that.”
My point is that fossil fuels, their use and abuse is a serious subject. It is something that has gotten caught up in the congressional gridlock and has become a political issue, i.e., if you believe in global warming you are probably a Democrat and an enemy of coal; if you are think global warming is bunk you are probably a Republican and on the opposite of this debate. It is too bad when both sides hunker down and cannot find a compromise for an issue that needs serious consideration. Thank you, for bringing up the subject. It was a courageous attempt at what should be a serious conversation.
"Zennie" (proper spelling) has a new motor. Deanna said it sounds totally different and I think she was on the road again, at last, today.
While keeping track of "Zennie" and texting Deanna to be sure she was getting her morning coffee and keeping her sanity while she waited, I've been continuing with this adventure we call retirement.
When I was young and mother was trying to teach me how to cook we often had a meeting of the minds when I was supposed to watch the meat so it didn't burn, but I had a book I just had to read! Mother was always telling me, "Avis, you have to watch what you are cooking." How right she was! The other day I stirred up what looked like a pretty good pot of chili, little different that what I normally make. I decided to let it slow cook on the top of the stove. Of course I was engrossed with something on the Internet and finally decided I had better go check. I had forgotten all about it. Of course when I got to the stove it had boiled dry!! I managed to salvage enough of it to get one meal out of it. Darn!
The recipe called for a Dutch oven and I think the pan I was trying to cook with cooked a lot hotter. I should have put it in the crock pot and will do that next time, for sure.
Today I made a pretty good hot dish, watched what I was doing and ended up with a decent supper. I am sure Mom was watching and said, "See. That is what I meant."
(Mom's birthday Monday October 10, 1915-March 15, 2004)
"Zenie" and Deanna left my house bright and early on a Tuesday morning. Deanna wanted to get across the mountains and into Oregon so she could visit friends in San Francisco and then head down Highway 101 eventually turning east and heading for home in Tucson where her parents live. About Friday I got a text that said, "Engine blew. In Carey, Idaho." After establishing contact and googling "Carey, Idaho," I learned of a community of about 634 people with no public transportation or grocery store, but it did have a cafe and a mechanic. Diagnosing "Zenie's" problems the parts were ordered and Deanna has continued to live in her RV for the past week situated behind the repair shop . Whenever the parts arrive and the work is done she will be on her way. She has tasted the hospitality of the mechanic's family at Sunday brunch and he loaned her his van so she could go to Crater of the Moon Park and see a few other sites. She does have wi-fi and a couple books we traded while she was here. The snow came this week, at least on the mountain peaks around Carey. Her patience and stamina are amazing. The journey continues.