Dad

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March 22, 2020-

My father would have been 93 years of age, today.  He transitioned on June 22, 1986, three months after his 59th birthday.  Dad was a middle manager, in the jet engine  department of the General Electric Company’s Riverworks Plant, in Lynn, MA.  He told me it wasn’t the greatest job in the world, and it often seemed to me that his overlords didn’t appreciate him to the fullest.  I know he did his level best.

Dad was slow to adapt to new ways of doing things, but he wasn’t rigid in his thinking, save his steadfast frugality.  He taught me to consider all points of view, even those that seemed counter-intuitive.  He was engaged with his five children and never, once, favoured one of us over the other.  Discipline was meted out as fairly as he knew how, with the facts he had at the time.

He was a man of faith, but was not an ideologue.  He attended Catholic Mass, most every Sunday, yet also didn’t miss a television appearance by Billy Graham, who he greatly admired.  His belief was that all Christians revered the same Son of God. This paved the way for my own belief in the Oneness of all religions, which he accepted of me, while silently shaking his head.

When there was an emergency, he handled it-even if, on occasion, he was physically spent and grumbled a bit.  He cared for all around him, taking in a sick brother at one point-and consistently pulling himself together to see to the needs of his youngest child.

Dad could seem to look at life through rose-coloured glasses, but deep down, I know that he knew there was a problem that just was not going away-whether it was my youngest brother’s illness or his own, which took his life far too soon.  He had his moments of magical thinking and attempts to escape reality, as many of us have, but he always came back to the life, and the woman, he loved most.

I thank you, father, for all you did and for what you expected of me.  God knows, it took me long enough to achieve it.

Primacy

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January 23, 2019-

I have watched the aftermath of this past weekend’s dustup, involving White, Red and Black activists, talking at, and over, each other- with only a smidgen of understanding, and that coming solely from the Native American elders, who thought drumming and singing a prayer would defuse tension.

The whites started out marching on behalf of banning abortion.  The blacks were mainly stating their beliefs about their being descended from the 12 Tribes of Israel.  The Native Americans were in a sanctioned march for Peace on Earth. The whites and blacks began berating one another, and it is academic as to who started what.  There have been all manner of comments, on all sides and from the sidelines, suggesting that, once again, no one was listening to the others- except the silent, grinning Nick Sandmann who, depending on who was watching, was either standing still out of respect to Nathan Phillips or was grinning in contempt of “an other”.

In reality, it IS disrespectful in Native American culture, to speak to someone who is chanting, praying or dancing in a spiritual manner.  Nick would know this, as, likewise, no  Catholic churchgoer engages a priest in conversation, when the prelate is saying Mass or giving a sermon.

It is also reality for some to stand, often with arms folded, grinning while their eyes flash hatred, as I have often seen when disparate groups of people confront one another.

I saw no hatred in the eyes of Nick Sandmann.  I saw a boy who didn’t want to speak, for whatever reason.  I saw his face momentarily turn serious, and what was going through his mind, at that moment, is known only to him.

Commentators have interpreted the behaviours of various people in the situation, according to what they, the commentators, have witnessed in the past.  I could do the same thing, and note that when I was a teen, my schoolmates and I poked fun at one another, sometimes to the point of invoking anger and tears.  We had one another’s backs when real adversaries attacked us.  Thus, the solidarity, the other day, when the whites, the reds and the  blacks felt threatened by one another.

Gradually, as will likely happen with the Covington kids, many of my contemporaries and I expanded our social circles, to include people of various groups.  Primacy of one group over another does not hold water.  Nick Sandmann, and those of his friends who join in, will start learning this WHEN they sit down with Nathan Phillips, and hear his story.  I hope they listen with both ears-and I hope Mr. Phillips remembers what it was like to be male and sixteen.  In answer to his question: “THIS is our future?”, I can only say:  Yes, sir, and it is also our past.  Intemperance and ignorance give way to open-mindedness and awareness, when the latter are brought to bear, in a loving way.  We are, in the end, one human race.