My Road

I live in a small rural community. My road is what you would call a “dead end.” I’ve always disliked that term and would prefer “no outlet,” but preferences and rules always have a conflict with rules winning out. Anyway, my “dead end” is a microcosm of age and culture.

At the start of my road is a home for transient women who come and go as needed.

As you move up my road, the ten or so houses become more individualized, single family and distinct. There are one-story homes with a couple of bedrooms. The maximum abode would be two stories, and that would also include a utilized or finished basement.

I’m the oldest now on this road. When I first moved in nearly twenty years ago, I was probably in the middle with all generations in between including babies, toddlers, grade-school children and teenage children.

What is seemingly unique to this neighborhood, based upon my experience of living in many other places is that we each know the other’s name and we each look out for the other.

Through the years we had illness and infirmity in homes along the road. We had births and the elderly passing. We have all spectrums of income and all political ideals. We rarely socialize, but we talk to each other, and our commonality is a concern for the other. I’m not sure you can find that in a lot of places, but it flourishes here.

December 7th 1941

There was a time, over dinner many years ago, that an older friend of mine, a retired naval officer, a graduate of Annapolis and now a successful businessman wanted to talk to one of my sons about attending Annapolis. My friend had both political and military connections, and my son had grades sufficient for an application and appointment.

My friend was a good man, a survivor of Pearl Harbor, but he had a powerful hatred for the Japanese. He hated them so much that he took every opportunity in business, in public, and in private to say so. He was a successful big-time contractor who built office and factory buildings, but he used no products from Japan.

During our dinner conversation I told him, I hoped he would understand, but he could not talk to my son unless he could let go of his hatred of the Japanese. I didn’t want my son influenced by such a long-festering hate.

Senator Simpson was correct when he said at President George H.W. Bush’s funeral, “Hatred corrodes the container that carries it.” When you hate you create a bond as powerful as love, and it won’t release you from your pain until you consciously let it go. The great teachings of the world suggest that hatred will eventually destroy the hater.

My friend thought about our discussion for several weeks. One day he called to tell me he was going to visit Pearl Harbor…on his way to Japan.

He asked when he got back could he talk to my son. I said “yes.”

As an afterword, my son was not interested in a naval career and went on to be successful in another venue, and my friend was able to release a constricting hatred that held him in a cocoon of anger for decades.

As it is with so many acquaintances with which we are blessed in life, I have lost track of my friend and hope that if he is still alive, he passes today’s anniversary of the attack with a feeling of peace that only forgiveness can engender.

Thanksgiving

Here it is two days before Thanksgiving in the United States. My friends in Canada celebrate it on another date.

Our Thanksgiving is similar to the August Moon Festival in China, Tet Trung Tru in Vietnam, Succoth in Judaism, Kwanzaa in Africa, Pongal in India and Chusok in Korea and Emtedankfest in Germany. The list goes on, but in essence the purpose remains the same, to thank God for a harvest of food and thought.

Giving thanks should never be relegated to a single day or a passing expression of gratitude. Giving thanks should be an ongoing every moment expression of appreciation. It should be a continuous expression of our lives for we as experiential souls in the density of life have truly been given so much for which we forget, deny, or explain away as something else.

It is amazing to me that the majority of us cannot see our abundance through the maze and fog of always wanting more. In my experience the All That Is provides for everything we need, but will not alter our free will choice to experience lack or deprivation.

Don’t ask me how that can be. I have no idea. I suspect that God experiences life through us as us.

Obviously our divinity is not omniscient or omnipotent, but it is on the edge of creation and understanding because there is a little bit of the Divine in each of us.

It seems to me we have forgotten appreciation and in our human arrogance of self we have ignored what we know deep within our souls.

In the United States, in particular, we forget to give thanks for clean and clear water, for the purity of a breath of fresh air, the freedoms and liberty we enjoy and the right to worship as we please. For me, to you, thank you for reading this blog from time to time.

An Observation and a Memory

I was in New York City yesterday for a freelance gig at CBS.

As I walked several blocks from the subway, I chose to look at people differently. New York City is peopled with many races; White, Black, Asian, Indian, Hispanic and all cultures and races in-between. New York has a large black population, but blacks are still a minority population in this city.

When I was in Nairobi, Kenya a few years ago Caucasian was not even a minority race. Caucasian was an anomaly, and I felt the difference. It was not a negative feeling, but more of a sensory one. Maybe it was just me, but I felt I stood out in the crowd so to speak. I was never felt fearful, only different.

The proportional difference between blacks and whites in New York City is far more than that of whites to blacks in Kenya. In Kenya, it was possible for me to travel miles and hours and not see another white person.

Yesterday in New York I decided to watch people more closely. I looked at black mothers and fathers on the subway with their kids, and I did so with awareness and appreciation. I saw tenderness, concern, and caring. I knew it was always there, but I was not as aware of it as I was yesterday. I watched family interactions with admiration and with a distant memory of covering the civil rights movement in the sixties. Back then, as a young reporter, I attended services in Black churches and listened to a fiery preacher call for justice and righteousness in an affirmative chorus of “Amen’s.”

The older I get, I have a wiser appreciation of human identity and shared dignity.

I think one has to experience being a minority before one can understand a portion of it. The only things that are truly important in life anywhere are equal opportunity, smiles, courtesy, dignity, tolerance, equality, and the clear acknowledgment of the sameness of being.