What a week. This morning Pinellas County put us under a mandatory evacuation. We are prepared, but the roads are parking lots and we could be moving into the direct path of this monster storm where now we are on the fringes. I watch the horrific pictures of the islands and their people following a hit by Irma. I breathe deeply, trying to find the “real” me that resides underneath the fearful me. I have been writing a lot about mortality and dealing with the medical world and now I am faced with the “get out or else” of a really scary storm. I’ve also been writing about the heart and soul of America and the plummeting of our national will and compassion. I am shocked and angered at the actions of our president and his people. At the same time, I am aware of the things I want to do, be, and accomplish in the years ahead. It is a confusing and emotional time. I use my tools, breathing deeply into my heart, calling up feelings of love, appreciation and empathy. The words of poet Diane Ackerman rise in my consciousness:
I swear I will not dishonor my soul with hatred but offer myself humbly as a guardian of nature, as a healer of misery, as a messenger of wonder, as an architect of peace.
To me, her words shine a beacon of light on what and who we can be if we honor our higher nature. As I consider my options, the Dreamers came to mind. These young people have a reason to be hurt and resentful. I cannot imagine their pain as our Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, a racist of long standing, righteously pontificated on the rescinding of DACA. Talk about suffering from emotional whiplash. They were convinced, by a government they trusted, to come out of the shadows, reveal all their personal information, and assured they would be welcomed as all Americans are. Within six months of our new president’s reign—and I use that term on purpose—he reneged on the governments promises and threw these students and working people into chaos and fear. Should they go back into the shadows? Should they fight? What would they do if they were deported to countries they had never experienced and people they didn’t know? My worry about evacuating for a few days seemed petty indeed. Trump and his minions showed callous disregard for the feelings and futures of thousands of idealistic young people—except that he said how much he “loves” the Dreamers. Spare us from such love!
The heart of America is at stake here. Recent events show a dark side that reveals the cancer of the Klan, the White Supremacists, the Facists and all other evil and racist faces of our society. Those who thought they were gone hadn’t realized they moved into the white house. I quote a poem from our beloved Florida Poet Laureate, Peter Meinke, published today in his column “Poet’s Notebook” in Tampa’s “Creative Loafing”.
The Turning Point
The Ku Klux Klan has burned the Cross
For decades now from South to North
But he’s reluctant to rebuke
the Klan the Nazis David Duke—
he knows they’re not an albatross
His base clings on like rabid moss
sensing they once again can shoot
young Emmett Till: That wouldn’t spook
the Ku Klux Klan
How can Democracy get lost
Charlottesville proves it’s not a fluke
that we’ve elected Cruel Hand Luke;
He’s the Warden but who’s the Boss?
The Ku Klux Klan
These recent happenings have disquieted my mind and upset my heart, but I am determined to remember Diane’s words. We must be instruments of peace. Then I watch the many kindnesses done in Texas, person to person, regardless of race. And I have an epiphany. It is the leadership that is rotten, not the people. We are gathered from immigrants back through the generations and leaders like George Washington, who said:
The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges.
With our history of liberal support, followed by a history of racist subjugation, we have much to learn and much to think about and much to ask forgiveness for. As I pray for the safety of my family and all beings faced with this huge and formidable storm, I send gratitude to all those who sacrifice for their neighbors, honor their country and show a warm and generous heart. There are more of those then there are the ones who are represented in a stained and struggling White House. I pray that something turns them toward the better good of this country. We are a people of Faith and Hope, and have never been overcome by the dark forces. As Woodrow Wilson said:
We came to America, either ourselves or in the persons of our ancestors, to better the ideals of men, to make them see finer things than they had seen before, to get rid of the things that divide and to make sure of the things that unite.
May we rid ourselves of the hate that seeks to divide us, choosing instead the love that seeks unity. May these “Dreamers” inspire our future. Maybe Irma and Harvey were sent to help us appreciate one another. We can only hope.