Fragile Trust

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December 26, 2021, Holbrook- The words came, swiftly, and with the harshness of those who have seemingly felt misunderstood and unappreciated, for a good many years. In each case, they were heard by people of good heart, and we at least know how to respond in a fairly positive manner.

The days after Christmas are frequently a time for harshness between intimates, or even between long-time friends. It is best to not put too much stock in them, if it is just a natural reaction to having felt forced to be on one’s best behaviour for the previous few days. Such lashing out is also a result of having been under the stress of staging holiday gatherings, trying to please everyone and perhaps not getting enough rest. Then, there is the Omicron factor and all the back and forth between those who favour public restrictions and those who want to tough it out on their own-or for it just to go away (which will happen, but in Mother Nature’s time.)

It’s generally been a good day, though, with another well-prepared and well-attended breakfast at the Prescott American Legion Post, a pleasant and re-assuring phone chat with Mom and my brother, Dave, seeing pictures of the remodeled house of my youth and enjoying a smooth drive from Prescott to this high desert town, in northeastern Arizona. 66 Motel is a clean and comfortable place for the night and Mesa Italian Restaurant compares well with ristorantes in Phoenix and Prescott.

Tomorrow, I will make a brief visit to Petrified Forest National Park, then head east to Albuquerque-and Old Town, before spending a couple of days in Santa Fe and vicinity. A ticket to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is the impetus for this trip. There are, of course, other places that will emerge on the itinerary- weather-permitting.

To those who are keeping track, today is the first day of Kwanzaa, and celebrates umoja, or unity. It is also Boxing Day, a British holiday that traditionally entailed giving Christmas boxes to servants, postmen and errand runners.

Upholding the Timeless

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December 26, 2020- “Stand, there’s a cross for you to bear, things to go through if you’re going anywhere.”– Sylvester “Sly” Stone

Kwanzaa celebrates what its founder, Maulana Karenga, identified as seven traditional African values, with a day set aside to celebrate each of the values:

  1. Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.
  3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
  4. Ujamaa (Cooperative economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  5. Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  6. Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  7. Imani (Faith):  To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. ” -Courtesy of Wikipedia.

One of the topics of discussion at our Christmas gathering, last night, was the underlying fear that people have of ideas that seem counter to American values. If one looks at what is celebrated during Kwanzaa, the festival is all about building up a community-without the taking advantage of the least among us, which, when one looks carefully at both the complaints of conservative small business owners and self-styled “socialists”,is a common concern of both groups.

No one in their right mind wants to be a “useful idiot’, the kind of dupe of which Vladimir Lenin bragged about having fooled, after the Bolshevik Revolution. Cooperative economics, which lends itself to ownership by the workers in an enterprise, rather than by the State, ought to be compatible with American entrepreneurship. I have visited a cafe, owned by a traditional conservative couple, for several years now. Their skills at consulting with their workers and the team that has been built, have established an admirable example of how even the busiest of enterprises may be managed in a climate of equanimity. I have seen the same, in another business, owned by cooperative socialists. This has been the strength of American workers, in the past, and there is no reason for that atmosphere to go away.

It is authoritarianism, regardless of social orientation, that presents the problem for people on both ends of the sociopolitical spectrum. The struggle, referred to as Imani, is primarily a shared experience, with both traditional conservatives and those wishing to alter our economic structure, for the good of the marginalized, wanting to hold back what they see as tyranny.

For both viewpoints, self-determination is a critical goal.

Healing

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December 8, 2016, Prescott-

The toughest month of the school year is almost half over.  Many people, adults and children alike, are eager for the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa festivities.  Others are dreading the loneliness and tension that the same season brings.

I find it a delight, while keeping my heart open to the suffering.  We got the ball rolling on help for a hurting soul, this afternoon.  Another feels life is crushing- and for her, the only answer is “One step at a time.”  Neither is really alone, and both have a shot at getting through it.

Nothing is guaranteed, though, and things can and do fall apart, for reasons far from understood by yours truly.  I only know that taking the bitter with the sweet has been my saving grace, for many years now.  My son is finding that out, once again.  His healing has progressed another notch, and he is free to wear regular shoes again.  I hope gell pads are part of his foot gear, but he will make that choice and heal completely, regardless.

My own situation is such that, by taking each day as it comes, and learning from each thing that comes my way, I will first survive and then thrive.  Healing has taken five years, mistakes were made along the way, and people were hurt.  I am confident that some amends were made, and that, with my angel’s watchfulness, life will continue to be fruitful and full of growth opportunities for my soul.

As we continue to move towards our holidays, I wish all to find some solace and know that the light of love is shining, however distant it may seem.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 16: Whose Yule?

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December 14, 2014, Prescott- I skirted the fringes of a Facebook scuffle over A) which December holiday was better and B) who has any right to say Islam should not be practiced in American schools?  Hmmm.  The first one seems to be a tussle over pride of place.  To my way of thinking, there is plenty of room for all celebrations.  Yule, or Winter Solstice, is the oldest, going back to the pre-Christian Celts, at least.  Chanukah came next, in terms of chronology.  Christmas has the widest appeal, and greatest social cache, worldwide.  Modern and values-based, Kwanzaa delivers a viable message that Africans were never, historically, a primitive group of peoples.  Festivus?  Hey, what the heck, let the good times roll.

This is the time of year when people like myself can sit back and honour a wide variety of religious practices.  I still send cards and small gifts to Christian family and friends,  and light the Menorah that Penny, Aram and I kept lit, in honour of her family.  I can’t chant the blessing, as she did, but the respect is there.  I also feel the spark of energy that comes with Solstice, as the days get infinitesimally longer.

Fighting over holidays is as silly as parents fighting at Little League games.  I can only wish one and all a peaceful season.