Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: POTUS

On the other side of yesterday

Morning rain drops and
tears of cleansing spread
welcome relief on streets
torn with grief and disbelief

An ambulance screams
by my window racing
to aid the sick the dying
and the dismembered

A distant bell tolls mindlessly
chiming out its last breath
of hope for better tomorrows –
Or at least a reprieve from public preening
blind to yesterday’s attempted slaughter
of truth and justice for all

No, Mr. Trump, you did not receive justice.
Nor did many of your friends honor you with truth.
Sadly, enablers are a dime a dozen.

I applaud each leader and member of congress who dared stand up and be counted on the side of truth and justice.

I do not applaud congressional and religious leaders who cheered and applauded Mr. Trump’s rant at yesterday’s nonpartisan, interdenominational and interreligious prayer breakfast. We are all dishonored by behavior like this, no matter what our political preferences may be.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 February 2020
Photo found at bbc.co.uk.jpeg

The Resistance

Bursting dams explode
Fueling unhinged tongues

Roiling water floods old landscapes
scarred beyond recognition

The end of this world collides
with the untimely birth
of a new world ruled by
winners of a rigged lottery

How shall we then live
with death-dealing word-bombs
hanging over our heads
seeking to silence the resistance?

I woke up this morning with yesterday’s impeachment vote on my mind.

I’ve known resistance all my life–as a girl child, and later as an adult woman. This includes fierce resistance inside me when my full humanity isn’t honored, and sometimes polite, unrelenting resistance brought to bear against me as an adult woman with a mind of her own.

I’m also one of the so-called fortunate whose skin is white, whose citizenship is not in question, who isn’t living on the streets due to gentrification….and I could go on, but won’t. You get the picture.

I was deeply moved by Senator Romney’s courageous statement and vote yesterday to impeach our President on one count. The morning news was full of POTUS comments and other tirades against Romney. The news was also full of support for Senator Romney. He isn’t a saint (which I find comforting). He simply and directly told the truth and cast his vote as he saw it, against every other member of his party.

Silence is deadly. So is speaking out, especially when it’s costly. As I see it, I have a choice. Shut up and sit down, or stand up and open my mouth. I choose the latter. How about you?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 February 2020
Image found at pinterest.com

chill wind screams

chill wind screams wailing
through tree branches caught off-guard
in dawn’s early light
souls of the departed soar
beyond this realm of sorrow

I wrote this short poem early this morning. I didn’t have Representative Elijah Cummings in mind. Nonetheless, the shoe seems to fit.

Cummings died last night at the age of 68. He was a son of sharecroppers, a civil rights warrior, a member of Congress from Maryland, and a fearless leader in the House of Representatives’ inquiry into Donald Trump’s dealings as POTUS, here and abroad.

According to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Cummings recently said,

When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked:
In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?

Indeed. A tough question for each of us, no matter which political party we prefer.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 October 2019
Image found at rd.com
Thanks to Reuters for the quotation above.

One inch short of war

Howling winds
Rattle doors and windows

Random bursts
Of unseemly fury
Hurled through air
Turn lashing trees
To toppled dreams
Caught off guard
By one lone ranger
Unleashing havoc
One inch short of war

Pointing out the faults of others, especially those of POTUS, is dangerous business. Some say we should cut him a break. After all, doesn’t our own uncontrolled behavior make us as guilty as the next party?

Perhaps it does. Nonetheless, national leaders are held to higher standards because of the number of people who depend daily on their decisions and actions. Especially, but not only in situations of national emergency. A wall on our southern border is not cause to declare a national emergency. Hurricane Maria was. A test of our readiness to do the right thing. Together.

So yes, POTUS is rightly held to higher standards. And yes, my ability to see fault-lines in POTUS likely means I’m all too familiar with this set of behaviors. In myself and in others.

It brings to mind my history with self-confident men and women who believed themselves ordained by God to keep me in line. In my place. Voiceless and without power. One inch short of being used and abused in a subterranean war fueled by abuse of power.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 February 2019
Photo of Hurricane Maria damage in San Juan, Puerto Rico; found at nbcnews.com

A Day! Help! Help! | Take 2

Emily Dickinson’s short poem came to mind this morning. I first commented on it in March 2017, after the 2016 election and January 2017 inauguration of Mr. Trump as POTUS.

Tomorrow we get to vote again, though not for another president. My comments follow in the form of a letter to Mr. Trump.

A Day! Help! Help! Another Day!
Your prayers, oh Passer by!
From such a common ball as this
Might date a Victory!
From marshallings as simple
The flags of nations swang.
Steady – my soul: What issues
Upon thine arrow hang!

c. 1858

Emily Dickinson Poems, Edited by Brenda Hillman
Shambhala Pocket Classics, Shambhala 1995

Dear Mr. Trump,

I am not one of your fans. I am, however, a believer in more than chance happenings.

First, a confession. For months, I’ve been captive to the anti-Trump approach to daily happenings. I didn’t think about you all the time. Nonetheless, following your election and inauguration, my days seemed governed by what you did and what I thought and felt about it. Usually it felt like going from one bad scene to an even worse scene.

Looking  back, I don’t regret thinking all that through, or writing about some of it. In fact, I rather enjoy going back to see my small trail of contributions to what’s been a national preoccupation and discussion. Trying to figure you out.

There isn’t, of course, any figuring that will balance things out nicely. Especially for those whose lives are in disarray thanks to your words and deeds. Plus the words and deeds of others you’ve enabled, if not unleashed.

And so I’ve moved on. I still believe each day contains the possibility of Victory, no matter how tomorrow’s midterm elections turn out. I also imagine Emily Dickinson’s “common ball” as our planet, which I would describe as this grand terrestrial ball. A dance, open to anyone who wants to accept the invitation. There’s only one hitch. Our Creator presides over this dance. Not any human leader, billionaire or organization.

So I’m taking dance lessons again. My neighbors and their pets are teaching me to lighten up. Women and men of color are teaching me to listen deeply to what’s happening. Children of all colors are teaching me to forget about how I look and how old I am. Friends of many years are helping me reconsider my dance partners. I’m tired of the same old rhetoric, the same old hopes for tomorrow, the same old anxiety about whether I’ll be asked to the dance.

I’m already in the dance! Stumbling along, sometimes gifted with a bit of insight, scraping together my courage, and showing up in the grand ballroom of life. You might like to try it yourself, if you dare.

From one voter among millions,
Elouise Renich Fraser

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 5 November 2018

wild nor’easter

wild nor’easter
whiplashes its way
through the night

And we aren’t even at the center of the storm. Fury comes to mind. Along with chaos, heavy wet snow, traffic at a near standstill, unpredictable wind gusts and icy cold. Our  generator has run since about 6pm last night. The sun is out and the damage is visible. Not much in our yard, but a mid-size tree fell during the night, roots and all, across our neighbor’s driveway. It was chaotic.

I can’t help thinking about our President and the current state of our disunion. Chaotic. I know…some think chaos is inevitably linked to creativity. Perhaps it is.

I think of it as a sign of breakdown that may or may not end well. Especially when chaos comes to dominate the multiple pronouncements, tweets, behaviors, faces and voices of POTUS. It’s so all-encompassing that I’m tempted to expect and demand nothing better. Or adjust to it as the new normal.

Many years ago, for three seemingly endless years, I had a Dean who thrived on chaos. The kind he created around himself and across the seminary daily. I remember vividly the day I figured out how to comport myself in his presence.

  • Say as little as possible.
  • Don’t answer questions about any of my colleagues.
  • Stick to the point and get out the door as quickly as possible.

That day I knew exactly who was in his office before I went in for my appointment. It was someone I worked with often, and depended upon as a faculty colleague. Almost as soon as I sat down across from the Dean’s desk, he began asking questions about the colleague who had just left the room. I refused to answer, and got my agenda on the table.

I also knew that the moment the next person walked through the door, the questions would be about me. Indeed, he found ways of gathering bits of information and turning them to his own benefit. I knew I was on his hit list, as were several other colleagues.

There had been a warning sign I missed the very first day I met him. I was on the search committee tasked with finding candidates to be our next dean. He was one of several we interviewed in person.

He didn’t know me prior to that day. Yet the moment he walked into the committee room he broke out into a great big smile, came straight over to shake my hand and tell me how much he had heard about me and how much he was looking forward to meeting me. Indeed. Had I only realized….I’d just met another version of divide and conquer.

Through a series of unexpected events, he became our Dean and left us broken and divided as a faculty, not sure what had just hit us. We were reluctant to talk with each other about it until he was gone and we knew we were in safe space away from the seminary.

I credit our interim Dean for calling us together in a hospitable setting. Many, including me, carried unexpressed shame, anger and tears that broke out when we met to process what had happened.

Never again. Chaos as a management technique was like living hell. I’d rather endure a fierce Nor’easter any day or night.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 March 2018
Photo found at news.wgbh.org – January 2018 Nor’easter off the East coast of the USA

The Divide and Conquer Club


Thanks for visiting and commenting on Misfit and Misbehaving. And a big thank you to John in Australia who linked his blog to the post.

My grade-school experience began in my home. My father was the consummate divide and conquer ruler of the household. He made the rules. He called us out on the rules. He was the judge, jury and executioner of punishment. Four daughters. No sons.

My father ran a full-circle, all services provided under one roof enterprise. His best ally was my mother who couldn’t afford to go against him. She was already a wounded warrior—not just because of polio and its aftermath, but because of her own childhood deprivations and humiliations.

We four daughters learned early to survive by way of dividing and conquering. All we had to do was join forces against one of us. It worked wonders. The other way we survived was by not talking to each other about what was going on in our family. It was against Daddy’s Rules. No secrets. No chatter at night after lights out. No comparing notes or comforting each other. No plans to go against Daddy’s Rules.

What happened in my grade school classroom was a version of what I already knew. Only this time it was in a setting I perceived as safe. So much for safety.

The tactics of divide and conquer are so familiar we scarcely perceive them. Whether consciously or not, they cause division and divert attention from what’s really going on. Thus the divider has things his or her way.

Without knowing it, the girls in my classroom were reinforcing values of the upper class. Clarifying the dividing line between us and them. That may sound simple, but the other side of divide and conquer isn’t all that complicated once we understand how people abuse power and to what ends.

I’ve also experienced this in churches and in academic settings. It happens everywhere, often in ways that seem innocuous or even praiseworthy.

In the USA today, I see this tactic as a deadly weapon of non-warfare. No one wields it so skillfully right now as POTUS—with the possible exception of Russia.

But the subject I care most about is women. Women of all colors and nationalities have experienced the tactics of divide and conquer in the home and in workplaces, churches, organizations, academia, the government, human trafficking, prisons, retirement homes, and any other setting in which women work or live.

This constant division serves the interests of white male supremacy, not the interests of women no matter how fancy the rhetoric sounds. It’s no accident that the USA is steadily falling behind other nations when it comes to women having access to all levels of government, healthcare, and other vital services.

It pays, it seems, to keep women in their place. Especially if we do this by promoting them. Feeding them a little of what they want and watching them fight over it, while withholding equal and proportional participation in deciding what that is.

Not every male is a white supremacist. However, without women banding together across significant divisions, all the men in the world with good and noble intentions will never save us. We must speak and act for and with each other.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 March 2018
Cartoon found at mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.com

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