Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: a national tragedy

Things I wonder about

How much and how often should I tell my story?
Or is it time to be the strong woman I was and am
Say directly what I’m thinking
rather than dropping a thousand hints, suggestions
or thinly veiled leading questions
in the vain hope of miraculous intervention
that won’t require me to take risks
or pay prices I don’t want to pay

Since when was I afraid to take risks?
My female life has always been about risk-taking
With due deference to powers higher than I
Or so I thought back then

What is deference anyway?
Maybe it’s my masquerade for fear
My easy way out of what’s looking like
A fraught, uncomfortable collision
Of what?
And at what cost?

Does everyone have a yearning to go back
and begin again, without apology or kissing up
to the so-called powers that be?

When something is blatantly wrong,
why doesn’t someone else step forward who has
credibility and guts to take the first step?

Do I have guts?
If not, have I lost my credibility?

I’m a late learner, not without reason. Even so, what am I to do now? I could rehearse my life story. It was worth writing. Reading it today strengthens and softens me.

I’ve learned the hard way what it means to tell the truth. In person. Face to face. Today, as back then, I don’t deserve to be shamed, humiliated or silenced. By anyone.

So what’s happening now? Not just in Washington, DC, but in our backyards, churches and places of worship, private and public spaces. Do I have the guts to speak up now, and refuse to sit down? I’ll let you know when I find out.

As always, thanks for visiting and reading.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 November 2019
George Orwell quote found at maura4u.com

One of a kind

Grounded in gratitude
and the painfilled joy
of being female

Can these things coexist
in one body?

Yes, my daughter,
though you must never forget:
Pain is a necessary thorn in
tender female flesh for reasons
not understood by mere mortals

My mind does not accept this verdict –
drowning in ignorance about me
and the course of my life on this earth

How many of us are there?
Each necessary to the great vine of life
Hanging on for dear life

I’m struck by the strange mix of gratitude and pain uncovered in me on any day of the year. It doesn’t take much. A news item, an ad, an assumption about me or all women, or the absence of everyday examples that might connect with real women and girls. Is this what it means to be human and female?

I’ve given up trying to understand the self-serving, convoluted logic I often hear about being female. Instead, I’m aiming each day for a calm mind, a relaxed body, a singing heart, and a trusting spirit. Whatever it takes, for as long as it takes.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 5 September 2019
Image of caged bird found at asfmtech.org

Small things fall to the ground

Small things
Fall to the ground
Combs and toy cars
Toothpaste and tuna
Rosaries and animal crackers
The sound of life denied
Drops into ground
Reverberating
With dashed hopes of migrants
Halted at the border
Of the promised land
Caught in webs of fear
And red tape
Studiously practiced
Perfected and delivered
By bureaucratic officials
Carrying in their pockets
Items deemed unnecessary
For human life from
The south side
Of the border

It might be easier if this were an isolated event or period of in our history. However….

In one way or another, the USA has practiced the fine art of dehumanizing perceived threats from the day the fathers and mothers of this nation set foot on its soil. The trail of destruction runs wide and deep like a river of blood through the Grand Canyon of our collective history.

Like an evil tide, forces of greed, pride and fear have overtaken and eroded the beaches of our shared life, fashioning mansions of sand and wreaking environmental havoc along our eastern and western coasts, and in our interior.

So now we’ve turned our attention to the southern border. As though sealing this up will remedy what we helped break into isolated bits and pieces now destined to remain fixed in concrete for the foreseeable future.

Thankfully, unnumbered children, women and men of good will, including courageous politicians, have stepped up to help ease the wounds. Not just those we perpetrate on migrants, but on each other. These human angels have been here from the beginning. They deserve our thanks and our support, especially now.

Here’s a link to Charity Navigator with  lists of trust-worthy groups that help immigrants and refugees. Take a look. They’ve done their homework.

Praying you have a life-renewing weekend and Sabbath rest.
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 July 2018
Photo found at censored.today

seeping through pores

Seeping through pores
The virus takes root
Invisible at first
A sense of not being
At home or abroad
In this sea of strangers
Wandering in and out
Filled with good will
They come and  go
Dry and desolate
A thought takes root
Without reason
The only welcome visitor
Whose words unheard
Make perfect sense
In this dying hope for miracles
That never arrive on time

In recognition of our most recent national upsurge in suicides attempted and/or completed, and in honor of family members and friends who ended their lives on this earth, or made the attempt and failed.

Always a thousand unanswered questions. Always a sense of ‘what could I or we have done differently?’ Always a desire to go to sleep and hope for something better when I wake up.

Multiple resources are available online. Hotlines and chat rooms are open night and day. Sitting there, waiting to be used. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 June 2018

The High Cost of Living in the USA | Part 2

The high cost of living in the USA has fallen on African Americans from the very beginning of this nation. The goal has been and, it seems, still is to keep them in their places and optimize the gains of those in power. Including the power of those of us who think we have no power.

The high cost didn’t go down when slavery was outlawed. We simply notched it up with lynching, and then discovered mass incarceration. Some argue that mass incarceration is simply the latest way to get cheap labor and ‘disappear’ Black Americans without getting into legal trouble.

Are we the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes and no. Yes if you’re able to reach and maintain inner freedom and courage in the face of overwhelmingly negative odds. Perhaps we’ve looked to the wrong heroes to show us what true freedom and bravery looks like.

I remember more than one of my younger African American male seminarians telling me he didn’t think he’d live to be an adult. Besides a history of slavery, lynching and entrenched racism, there’s random gun violence every day, entrenched poverty, and limited options regardless of ability. Add to this the availability of drugs and alcohol, and the mistake of being in public space if you’re Black.

Last month a new Memorial to Peace and Justice opened. It’s dedicated to making visible our history of slavery, lynching and now mass incarceration. I want to visit this new Memorial before I die. Why? Because it’s past time to look at this part of my heritage as a white female.

In summer 1950, my family moved from California to rural Savannah, Georgia, just a short walk from what we called ‘colored town.’ I wasn’t aware of animosity between races. I was, however, painfully aware of economic disparities on display every day. Not just in our rural community, but in the city.

I now know from reading about the new memorial, and from this interactive map, that the state of Georgia is #2 in the list of states with the highest lynching record between 1882 and 1930. In fact, from 1877 to 1950, Georgia lynched 586 black men, women and children. Do you know how many were lynched in your state?

I’m told I enjoy white privilege. It’s true. When I get up in the morning I don’t have to worry about thousands of things including being seen in public as a white woman. I would suggest that this ‘privilege’ is better defined as white ignorance. I’ve learned, simply by breathing the air around me, how to be blind and unresponsive to what’s right before my eyes every day of my life.

So where do I go with this? Though data is important, I don’t think the solution lies in miles and miles of data. Instead, I’m rooting for the poets, the songwriters, the storytellers, and the truth tellers. Including truth-tellers like those who dreamed about and planned this new National Memorial.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 May 2018
Photo found at Wickipedia; y Shameran81 – Courtesy Middleton Place, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55786120

The High Cost of Living in the USA | Part 1

From my journal, written 17 December 2017. Lightly edited for clarity.

I’m stunned at how angry I am. Here we are in 2017 and some men and women are still trying to minimize what’s happening in the shadows. They want to change the conversation to the poor men who are being humiliated. I’m fiercely angry. This surprises me, since I thought I’d dealt with this and found a way to connect it with my life as it is now. So that my voice is in charge.

Suddenly ‘their’ voices seem to be in charge. The voices of men who violated other human beings and try to dismiss it all as lies or misunderstandings and get on with their lives. Victims be damned. In fact, let’s sue them! For defamation of character! Lies and half-truths.

I saw this behavior when I confronted my father about his abuse of my body and spirit. In his eyes, I was clearly The Problem. Today I hear almost ritual trashing of women and men who were violated in any number of ways. Forced against their will to do obeisance to a perpetrator. And then paying for it with their silence if not their future careers.

I feel the energy draining away even as I type this. What’s so horrendous is the cost of even beginning to connect with this national tragedy. As great as slavery, in my opinion. Though not the same as slavery. Both realities treat women and some men as another class of beings brought into the world to do someone else’s bidding and keep their mouths shut. What were they thinking???

Christian leaders, politicians of all parties, business leaders, prominent actors and producers, everyday fathers and uncles and grandfathers and brothers and cousins. How can such a degrading reality live for so many generations?

I don’t have the energy for this. Still, I’m horrified at the extent to which some are going to avoid, deny, make light of or even ‘kill’ truth.

The headlines are like poison right now. I avoid them. I don’t want to live in a constant state of internal uproar. I need a clear agenda for what I will and will not do to take care of myself in this national war between the courageous and the cowards who think money and reputation will save them.

Maybe all the ‘everyday’ harassment I experienced, especially at the seminary, wasn’t about how wrong I was, but about how right I was and how strong my voice is. I’ve always felt my voice was weak. Though women and some men found it strong, the overall impression I made on the majority of students was, I think, negligible. And according to some seminary officials, the less I said about controversial matters, the better.

But now I wonder. Was all the commotion about me due to the power of my voice? Were they afraid because they found themselves wanting to agree with me yet were also afraid it might mean the end of their hoped-for careers in church and denominational politics?

I’ll never know. Still, it never occurred to me that opposition to a voice might be a sign of the speaker’s success. Fear is a powerful motivator. Especially if someone is afraid of being labeled a trouble-maker or worse.

Cost: cannot be ascertained, only mourned for all women and men whose voices and creativity were silenced.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 May 2018
Photo found at businessresearcher.sagepub.com

%d bloggers like this: