Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Against All Odds

A Moral Obligation | Chinua Achebe


When things fall apart it isn’t an accident. Especially when religion or so-called patriotism is involved.

I don’t find the long view very encouraging these days. The temptation to rewrite history has routinely injected politics into the picture, particularly as presented in or omitted from school textbooks. Usually this favors those in positions of political power over against those with the least power, beginning with Native American Indians.

This need to make things fall apart from time to time has not served the best interests of the powerless, no matter where they live in these so-called United States. Or in Africa, as Chinua Achebe relates in his masterpiece, Thing Fall Apart.

Here’s how Achebe describes the problem–a description in which I hear echoes of our own dysfunctional situation in the USA. Near the end of Things Fall Apart, a disputed piece of land has been given (by the white man’s court) to an African family that had given money to the white man’s messengers and interpreter. Okonkwo, Achebe’s main character throughout the book, responds with the following question and answer (p. 176, emphasis mine).

Does the white man understand our custom about land?

How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? But he says that our customs are bad, and our own brothers who have taken up his religion also say that our customs are bad. How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he was won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we are fallen apart.

As I see it, we must be crystal clear about those we elect to serve the common good, not their own good. The stakes are high not just for this generation, but for those yet to come. As Achebe puts it at the top, this is a moral obligation. And yes, it will cost dearly. Not so much in money, as in humility and determination against all odds.

Thanks for visiting and reading. These are troubling days filled with expected and unexpected challenges. Praying for clarity and for the ability to do what we can where we are, no matter which way the wind seems to be blowing.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 August 2021
Quotation at the top found at forreadingaddicts.co.uk

We live on the verge

This poem isn’t for the faint of heart. Nor is it about life writ large. It’s about daily choices now dwindling down to a precious few.   

We live on the verge
the daily edge
the cutting edge
the bleeding edge
between breakdown
and breakthrough

Born with limited opportunities
we leap
stumble
fly
or die of indecision

I opt to sail beyond the verge
against all odds
into uncharted territory
where no woman in her ‘right’ mind
has ever gone before

With gratitude to Star Trek
and all other mortal friends and strangers
who helped make this moment possible,

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 April 2017, reposted 21 June 2021
Photo found at pixabay.com

hands clasped tight

hands clasped tight
behind Dad’s broad back
head resting face forward
on Dad’s right shoulder
the young man exits
held in Dad’s strong arms

~~seen yesterday in the beauty shop

The young teenager had just had a haircut. Both parents were there. Mom did the talking; Dad did the heavy lifting, bodies face to face; their son’s feet and legs dangled limp. The shop was full of women of all ages; huge mirrors covered nearly every inch of wall space. Multiple witnesses to courage and perseverance against all odds.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 March 2018

For all the women I have loved

During the last few months I’ve been going through old teaching and administrative files, carbon copies of reference letters I wrote decades ago, boxes of notes and cards you sent to me, and old directories with head shots of students, faculty, and church members. More than once I’ve been reduced to tears.

Several years ago I made a list of women whose lives made a difference in my life. It was so long I had to stop.

This is ironic, since most of my life I’ve been beholden to men. They were or might one day become my gatekeepers. It was important to treat them well and with due deference. Most were white. A precious few were interested in my future instead of their own and how I would help them get there.

Yet I was born into and grew up surrounded by women who cared for me no matter what. They didn’t all have motherly skills, but each had something to give me. Something to pass along that would help me grow—if I could only relax into the role of learner.

Today’s post is for all the women who were and are my shining stars —

  • my sisters, daughter, daughter-in-law, granddaughters
  • my mother, cousins, aunts, grandmothers and great-grandmother
  • classmates, playmates, teachers and faculty colleagues
  • committee members, informal kitchen cabinet members
  • therapists, doctors, nurses and external consultants
  • accomplices in strategic disobedience and brilliant projects
  • pastors, church friends, workplace mentors, friendly enemies
  • puzzling combatants, bright stars, struggling survivors
  • angry recipients of insults and injury
  • new mothers fighting isolation and depression
  • aspiring preachers and teachers finding strong voices
  • devastated applicants turned away due to marital status or fear
  • determined women moving ahead against all odds
  • heartbroken wives whose husbands just walked out the door
  • heartbroken mothers who just lost a child or baby or husband
  • tearful survivors of trauma in need of help
  • closeted lovers of women not sure where to turn for help
  • gifted women passed by in favor of an average male applicant
  • poets, writers, musicians, preachers and teachers
  • drama queens, dreamers and world-changers

Like a galaxy of stars, you are brilliant in my life. Scarcely a day goes by without one of you showing up in my heart. I’m so glad I kept all those notes, cards and sometimes silly photos. Reminders that the history we made, no matter how small it seems today, still matters.

With respect, love and prayers for history-making women everywhere,
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 March 2018
Photo found at galeri.uludagsozluk.com

Happy Cinco de Mayo?

~~May 5, 1862, the siege of Puebla, from a 1901 series of children’s booklets

Cold rain falls steadily
Undermines foundations of trust
Changes perceptions overnight
With over-bold strokes of an executive pen

Stern pretentious words
Proclaim Our America First–
Not Yours!

Bold singing and dancing
Brilliantly costumed adults and children
Delectable Mexican food
Proclaim ‘Happy Cinco de Mayo!’
Against all odds now, as then.

To live the truth of freedom
Is more powerful than a thousand strokes
Of a cold executive pen

Thank you for inspiring us
To live freely, boldly and with flair
In the midst of dull predictable chaos

***

© Elouise Renich Fraser 5 May 2017
Image found at Wickipedia.org
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Lifestyle

To fight aloud, is very brave —

charge_of_the_light_brigade

~~~Charge of the Light Brigade, painting by Richard Caton Woodville, Jr.

What does it mean to be brave? Emily Dickinson gets right to the heart of things by showing me a different picture of bravery. One with which I can relate, if I’m willing to re-imagine my life. My comments follow her moving poem.

To fight aloud, is very brave –
But gallanter, I know
Who charge within the bosom
The Cavalry of Woe – Read the rest of this entry »

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