A Child Is A Child

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November 19, 2021- I have friends and family, on both sides of the Chasm, when it comes to discussions of race. Just so we’re clear, I am dead set against ANY policy or action that limits or prevents a person from following his/her life plan-so long as that plan does not itself involve limiting or preventing another person from following theirs.

It started, in a sense, with Emmett Till. When he was killed, I was four. An older cousin saw the news on TV and commented: “That is just plain SICK!” I asked what was sick and he told me that a kid, not much older than he, was killed by some crazy people in a place called Mississippi. I knew that name, because the older girls in the neighbourhood spelled it out while jumping rope. It bothered me, from that time on, that adults would kill a child.

As time went on, I witnessed and experienced all types of adult behaviour towards children-mostly good, but some very wicked things as well. I was, thankfully, never beaten or abused-but I knew plenty of boys and girls who were.

Growing up in a mostly White town, I saw and heard people of all ages-including some of my mates, express hostility towards people of other racial groups. In fairness, they were just as caustic towards people of other European ethnicities. I never felt such animosity towards anyone, but as the saying goes, “You stand in chalk, you inhale the dust.” It took time in the Army and frank discussions with people of other backgrounds, in which I chose to listen more than talk, for me to truly understand their experiences.

It is the duty of adults to teach teens in the ways of maturity. Maturity, as my father explained to me, means not rushing furiously into a situation, unprepared and likely overmatched. Now, we see what happens when the reverse is true. Kyle Rittenhouse went into battle, in his own mind, against an imagined foe that he barely understood, and of whose diversity he was completely ignorant. Someone in his life owed him a hand of restraint- not a violent hand, but a firm one.

Like many people in adolescence, he seemed to think he was capable of rising to the occasion and fending off those who had trouble in mind. Ironically, it was not the thugs on the periphery of the social justice movement whom he faced down, that awful night. It was three grown men, who likely fancied themselves allies of that movement, coming at him, a boy of 17.

I question how he was able to bring an AR15 with him, when the minimum age for BUYING such a weapon is 18. Yet, there it was, in his hands, after who knows how much training and practice he had been given in its use. Even people in the military, who are, with rare exceptions, 18 and over, have to have a minimum of eight weeks of training in the handling, use and maintenance of firearms, especially automatic weapons. Kyle should not have been there alone. Adults should have been with him, and then as a force of restraint.

There is, additionally, the research into the maturation of the human brain. The brain is not completely formed until the age of 25, if then. I look back on myself, in my teens and twenties, and sometimes shudder that I am still alive- my parents’ best efforts to raise me aside.

We are, however, in a crisis of adulthood when, once again, people at the street level are left trying to explain to the wider society why People of Colour are frustrated and angry-while not exactly hearing the voices of reason from those above them, in the halls of power. We are in a crisis of adulthood when a child is castigated in the court of public opinion, publicly coddled by a sitting judge and probably just as confused as he was on that awful night. We are in a crisis of adulthood when the voices of the nation’s leadership use vitriol, rather than step back, breathe deeply and foster healing. We are in a crisis of adulthood, when we just go back to the same sides, across the Chasm, that led us here in the first place.

A good-hearted, gentle family member remarked this evening that she just wants to see love for everyone. She is a conservative Christian. I am a gadfly, who leans progressive, in most matters. My sentiments, though, are the same.

A child is a child; raise him (her)!

Playfulness

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September 2, 2021- The rambunctious teen ran, full tilt, into a locker. He winced, just a little, and momentarily looked puzzled: “Wow, that hurt!” My response: “Ya think?” He walked towards the classroom door, as I sized up both him and the locker for any indicators of damage. As there was none, I had him take his seat and thirty-two of us slowly, but earnestly, started class.

High School freshmen can be a lot like toddlers in pre-school, trying out several advanced roles, whilst not entirely wanting to give up their immature selves. College freshmen often mimic the same behaviours. For many, this doesn’t last very long, especially as the reality that being able to participate in sports or other interests depends on keeping grades up or that love interests may well have the expectation of a higher level of maturity.

There are always the goofs, though, and walking them through the transitional phase is often dependent on near magic. I have met some of these same types, a few years down the road. Those whose next encounter with me didn’t involve them being a corpse at a funeral, or an inmate at the State Prison, had found their footing-and even if they still had their rowdy side-jumping out of airplanes or bungee jumping, they also had a sense of responsibility.

Playfulness hasn’t entirely left me. Snarky bantering happens all the time. So does lively dancing or just being silly around younger children. Somehow, though, I don’t quite see myself testing a metal locker’s tensile strength as part of my journey of exploration.

What It Usually Means

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April 3, 32021-

Most times, a hug is a hug-and nothing more. A handshake is a handshake, no more and no less. A warm smile is not especially an invitation, but more an expression of appreciation. A gentle touch is a reassurance of caring. Eye contact, likewise, means “I see you. You matter to me”.

Interest in your day means there is a connection. It is not an invitation to anything more. Expressing interest in doing things together is not an open door to doing just anything at all.

A friendship between mature adults is devoid of assumptions, of unilateral expectations and wishful thinking. It is full of plans made together, of honest conversation, of trusting disclosures, knowing that what is shared is respected, and kept in confidence.

These facets of my friendships, with woman and man alike steer me gently into that good night and its subsequent bright day.

What is Cherished?

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May 18, 2020-

This post is inspired by Eugenia’s series of prompts: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/60360547/posts/2711101856

I cherish the actions of the heart, above all.

Those efforts that do not seek to elevate one above all others,

but which seek to raise all boats.

I cherish family,

both near biological.

and far extended,

the family of the bloodline

and that of the heart.

I cherish childhood,

that which is given us,

in the first two decades,

or so, of life,

and that which is retained

in spirit, even as the body

and mind take on the

trappings of age and maturity.

I cherish the beauty that

surrounds us,

both the glimmerings

of nature, by day and by night,

and the images conjured

by the mind.

Let all be adored,

which keeps us

and propels us forward.

Being 64

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November 28, 2014, San Diego-  I woke today, looked in the mirror and lo & behold:  There was a face that looked every bit of sixty-four.  I’ve always regarded looking one’s age as a sign of a life well-lived.  Acting one’s age, that’s another matter.  After all, men old enough to be my father have made no bones about going after young women.  That’s not my style, though.  I had a fine marriage, have a son who is contemporary with the aforementioned ladies and besides, I enjoy the company of people of all ages, as friends, at this stage of my life.  Maturity, for sixty-somethings and older, is a choice.

I’ve thought a fair amount about privilege.  In some ways, I enjoy it;  I don’t have to worry about being pulled over by police, just because of the type of vehicle I’m driving.  I can go anywhere I can afford to go. I am not followed around by store security, even when I’m “dressed down”.  No one asks me my business, when I’m in a public place. I could, conceivably, be hassled by people, when in some parts of Hawai’i , or Mexico or any number of Native American communities.  So far, though, that hasn’t happened.  I was treated just fine in the Honolulu area, have visited Yaqui, Tohono O’Odham, Navajo and Hopi communities, with no unpleasant events and drove  a friend to Mexico a few years ago, without any sense of imminent danger.

What I don’t enjoy, though, is seeing people who are just trying to get from A to B, being hassled.  I also don’t like seeing miscreants try to poke holes through civility, by creating a scenario of “racism”.  Every person should obey the law, not take what isn’t his/hers and refrain from bullying people who are trying to make an honest living.  Every person is also entitled to enjoy the fruits of their labours, earn a decent living wage and not have to sneak across borders to do so.  There is a lot, an immense amount of work to be done in that regard.

I got a lot done this past year, and will get more accomplished in the year ahead. (Details in next post).  For today, though, I am content to head up to La Jolla, hopefully see some marine mammals, hike a bit at Torrey Pines and kick back this evening with a Netflix film at my son’s apartment.  Sixty-four is a fine age to be.