Another Poem by Sylvia

the same nighttime sky

i’ve watched 

another day go by…

the sun now setting 

in the western sky…

and with it my heart

so deepeningly blue…

are we 

still,

the same me

the same you?

don’t we 

share,

the same earth

the same sky…

the same moon

the same stars

in the same nighttime sky?

don’t we 

want,

the same hope

the same chance…

the same truth

the same peace

in this same lifetime dance?

i’ve watched 

another day go by…

the sun now rising 

in the eastern sky…

and with it my heart

no longer so blue…

together we can be

a new me

a new you

Sylvia L. Mattingly

January 20, 2021

Written before and after today’s Presidential Inauguration, in hopes of the end of such hateful divisiveness and instead, a reunification in this country.

A New Year Haiku

2020 Then
Pandemic COVID19
We want it over

2021
Capitol Insurrection
Who expected this?

Who would have indeed?
All those paying attention
Will it be over?

No one knows for sure
Peace and harmony might come
Or more rioting

What is the cause here?
Plenty blame to go around
Arrest each one now

A new day comes soon
January twentieth
Hold our breath ’til then.

Title photo by Pixabay

Monday Book Review: “Separated”

This New York Times bestseller, “Separated – Inside an American Tragedy,” was published in July of this year. The author, Jacob Soboroff, is a TV journalist who won the 2019 Walter Cronkite Award for Individual Achievement by a National Journalist and the HIllman Prize for Broadcast Journalism that same year. Soboroff witnessed firsthand in Texas, Arizona and California what the United States of American did to thousands of families seeking asylum in the US. In short, families were separated and often placed in chainlink cages similar to dog kennels. Parents were held having no idea where their children were and usually that was thousands of miles away.

Much of this separation was done in secret before it was known to be a US plan to deter those seeking asylum from coming across the southern border. Soboroff went the shelters and tent cities and interacted with both Border Patrol and particularly one father son family from Guatemala. The author’s observations and his sharing of his own horror are memorable.

If this is a subject that interests you, and it should interest all of us, I recommend this book for a better understanding of what was done and to some degree is still being done to families who seek safety in this country. Of necessity, this book contains the names of numerous government agencies and their acronyms and this can impede what would otherwise be a fast read.

Too Much and Never Enough

Book Review Monday

“Too Much and Never Enough – How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man” by Mary Trump, PhD

Mary Trump is the niece of the President of the United States. In this book she writes about her family in detail and claims to know what makes Donald J. Trump the kind of leader that he is. She doesn’t hold back while sharing her recollections and opinions of this well known and powerful family. Her account of the toxic dynamics involved is hard to discount based on her training and work as a clinical psychologist.

If you are interested in the subject I recommend this book. I found it well written and easy to read.

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Save the Land and its People!

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit Indigenous communities in the United States the hardest. Just weeks ago, the Navajo Nation had the highest per capita rate of cases in the entire country. Yet in the midst of this unprecedented global crisis, the current administration is seizing the opportunity to open more fracking and drilling in the Greater Chaco region in New Mexico. The Chaco area contains the most sweeping collection of ancient ruins north of Mexico. The park preserves one of the most important pre-Columbian cultural and historical areas in the United States per Wikipedia.

This plan could add up to around 3,000 new oil and gas wells to the area, threatening the safety of the local air and water — and pumping out exactly the kind of catastrophic pollution that makes people even more susceptible to dying from coronavirus. During this pandemic, corporate polluters have been handed free rein to move forward with dangerous fossil fuel extraction on public lands — including those around the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Please let your Congressional representatives know that this would harm communities and destroy lands forever. Tell them you want them to stop this destruction!

SOURCE: Natural Resources Defense Council Environmental Advocacy Group

Chaco Ruins
Photos by Pixabay

Heat Wave

Heat Wave

It is thick and sticky and hot
Like walking around in snot.

The Ohio River Valley feels
like walking on the Devil’s hills.

I’ve heard of Hell’s front porch
and here we sit and together scorch.

We have had to learn the heat index
because it trumps the temperature’s effects.

About climate change, we don’t worry.
When it is mentioned the politicians scurry.

Ten such days this year we can bear
but what about 2050? We don’t care.

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Book Review – The Half Has Never Been Told

The Half Has Never Been Told 

Slavery And The Making Of American Capitalism

by Edward E. Baptist 

This is not a book to be undertaken lightly. It is a hard read, or at least it was for me. It covers not only slavery, which I thought I knew a lot about but war, politics, economics and as the title says, “The Making of American Capitalism.” In his emphasis on the development of capitalism on the backs of slaves, the author does not leave out the inhumanity of slavery and the cruelty with which this population was controlled. 

One of the facts that I never fully appreciated was the sheer number of the enslaved. Millions of people, mostly from Africa, but also from other countries were sold and resold throughout the United States from the beginning of the settlement of this country. These human beings were a commodity like any crop or manufactured tool and depending upon the prevailing economy, their selling price, i.e., their “worth,” might fluctuate from several hundred dollars to well over one thousand. 

It is easy to think of slaves on idyllic southern plantations, but this is the exception as Baptist’s historical account covering 1783 through 1937 makes clear. His research is thorough and well documented in around 700 footnotes and references.

I recommend this book for a more accurate understanding of United States history. I promise it will dispel some of your long-held assumptions and provide a fresh view of today’s race challenges in this country. Actually, I finished this book with a whole new view of how the entire world, not just the U.S. benefited from the ownership of other human beings here in our country. 

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“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” Abraham Lincoln

Diverse Congress?

This past November, 35 new women were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives bringing the total now serving to over 100. There has been abundant news coverage of this group’s number and their wide diversity in ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation.

Twenty-three percent of both the House and Senate being female is a first. It is great, right? Not quite. Before we proclaim “The Year of the Woman” yet again let’s look at some other facts.       https://crookedcreek.live/2018/06/13/year-of-the-woman-2018/ 

  • Women make up over 50% of the population of the U.S.
  • Over 60% of U.S. citizens holding college degrees (both undergrad and masters) are female
  • The U.S. Senate, since its inception in 1789 has had only 56 women to serve and many of those were appointed to fill the seat of a deceased husband rather than elected.  

Don’t think for a moment that the glass ceiling has been broken. There is not even a discernible crack, but that does not mean we give up. Instead, we stay informed, support the best candidate for the job, VOTE and perhaps most importantly stop judging females more harshly than we do men. 

Overall our government looks white, male and old but this does not reflect our population. We can and must do better! 

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https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/01/14/us/politics/women-of-the-116th-congress.html?emc=edit_nn_20190120&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=7295686420190120&te=1

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” Mark Twain

Theme photo of 27 incoming Congresswomen by Christelle De Castro of ELLE

November

Elections

Elections are a big deal. Much can change due to voting and every citizen of a democracy should utilize this right at each opportunity. But, no matter how an election turns out, whether your party comes out ahead or loses, our responsibility does not end with a vote.

So, do not be discouraged after Tuesday’s election here in the U.S. Instead act. Act out of the goodness of your heart, out of your desire to make this a better place. There is no room for apathy or inertia if we want change. 

John Pavlovitz says it better than I ever could. Here are a few words from his blog today:

“The really critical act, is remembering that leveraging your life on behalf of others isn’t an event, it’s your ever-present calling. It’s about you and your daily ability to make this place more compassionate and generous and kind than when you found it. You get to be helper and healer and listener; to be an ally and an advocate and an activist. There will be no way you can lose that.”

VOTE!

U.S. Election Day

No matter your political party, no matter your personal beliefs, if you are an American citizen I urge you to vote on November 6. This election is called a “mid-term” and some seem to think that makes it less important. Presidential elections may be more exciting but the so-called mid-terms are just as significant. Our government is based upon checks and balances and whether in local races, state or Federal we must choose all branches carefully. 

While this post is for US citizens, if you live in another democracy your elections are just as important and I urge you to vote as though your life depended upon. Indeed at some point, it may. 

Shame

A larger percentage of  US citizens voted in 2004 than in any year since 1968 and that was only 58%. It is a disgrace that in the 2016 election over 100 million people did not choose to execute this solemn right! 

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Show up! Speak up! Or Shut up!

 

Graphics by Pixabay

Facebook

Goodbye Facebook

Several friends have asked me why I deleted my Facebook account a few months ago. They miss my comments and photos. They miss me. I do not doubt this because I miss them also. I miss their updates and photos and I miss being in contact. But we see Facebook through the lens of their own relationships. Friends, grandchildren, lovers, church members, baby photos, kitten videos, all good I thought.

I was one of over 2 billion users, showing off with little to no thought of how my personal information was being used. I didn’t read the terms of the agreement or try to understand the privacy settings. I was having fun and for free!

Giving up Facebook was not something I did lightly. After being a member for so many years it was a sacrifice. One thing I’ve learned though and not unexpectedly is that while being a member I was sacrificing time. The time that I could be doing more productive things but this is not why I left Facebook.

My last comment on Facebook before I departed was this:

“I have been betrayed. Facebook used me and used my friends and our data. More importantly, Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have endangered the democracy of the US and the safety of democracy globally. After 10 years of FB membership, I am hurt and disillusioned. I will never be back and will encourage others to take the same step.”

Full Stop

That is the reason and it is not hyperbole. Facebook sold our information to a foreign government through Cambridge Analytica and by other means. Cambridge Analytica alone obtained information from 50 million Facebook user profiles without permission from members.

Experts believe that Facebook, more than any other social media platform, has facilitated the spread of fraudulent news because of its vast number of users and the many mechanisms it offers for sharing information quickly.*

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Billions $

Facebook lost over $120 billion in stock on July 26, the largest one-day stock loss in history when investors dumped over 20%. One might say it serves them right, but how many millions did they make off us over the past three years or so? Also, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t miss his $16 billion loss any more than I’d miss one hundred. He is a multibillionaire, down from third richest person to the sixth. I do not begrudge him his wealth, but I vehemently resent how he earned it off of unsuspecting members, like me, like my friends and family.

Those fun Facebook quizzes were designed to learn our preferences and our weaknesses which were played upon in advertising and bogus news. I didn’t do many quizzes but learned that when my friends did so it opened up my data. This devious plan duped the highly educated professional just as it did the uninformed.

Zuckerberg has a history of saying “I’m sorry” but that is not enough when things stay the same. Facebook VP Carolyn Everson recently made the following statement:  “The entire company is focused. We’re adding over 10,000 people, we’re using technology to help us find bad actors and bad behavior.” It doesn’t take that many people nor technology to figure out that the bad actor is the company founder and CEO.

No Return

I’m enjoying the extra hour or so I used to spend on Facebook each day even though I do miss folks I care about. True friends will stay in touch, the other few hundred not so much.

I hope that others have reached a similar decision, but I am only responsible for my own and I refuse to be used to weaken the democracy of the country I love.

Sources: CBS This Morning and *Alicia Shepard of USA Today and NPR.

“Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice speak out because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.”                Thurgood Marshall

 

Graphics by Pixabay

Year of the Woman 1993

1993

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In 1993 I turned fifty-years-old. I felt old. I was teased and received all the gag gifts that go with such a milestone birthday. But there was a bright spot, it was the “Year of the Woman!” What could be a better birthday present than that! 

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But wait, 1992 was supposed to be the “Year of the Woman” too. And, according to a Wall Street Journal article, 1994 was redux. Surely with all the elections and appointments of women, it did come to pass . . . surely. No doubt all this attention to the female majority in the US resulted in equal pay . . . no doubt . . . surely. 

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What happened? Does anyone even remember the first “full-fledged” female bishop? How about Carol Moseley-Braun? Joyce Elders? Lani Guinier? 

The battle for women’s suffrage began in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848 and it took seventy-two years for the 19th Amendment to be ratified. My mother was one year old at the time. If living she would turn 100 next year. My what progress must have been made in all those years. Surely women now receive pay equal to men. Surely a woman has been elected President. Surely women have an equal place at the table where important decisions are made. Surely . . . 

What went wrong? Who failed? We need to ask these difficult questions. In the next post we will take a closer look at the progress made since the Year of the Woman of the nineties. 

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them, we may be them, may we raise them.” Stacey Bendet

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

Soul?

Soul Food, Soul Music, Soul Mate

Since we often reference souls we must know what a soul is, correct? Is it a soul or the soul? Do we have one? Does every person have one? Can you sell it? Can you bare it? Can you bless it, as in “Well, bless my soul!”?

I used to believe I had the full answer to these and more profound questions from my faith tradition. As I have lived longer, had more experiences and opportunities for learning, I have less confidence in what I used to believe with little question. 

This is not intended to be a religious discussion nor debate. On this blog, I eschew that subject with almost as much determination as to the subject of politics.  https://crookedcreek.live/2016/09/03/declaration/

That being said it is worth mentioning that the word soul appears in most holy books. For example “soul” can be counted 55 times in the Christian *New Testament, 224 times in the Quo’ran and a whopping 443 times in the Hebrew *Old Testament.      

*King James Version


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What is Soul? 

I feel that each of us has a theory and of course, we can easily check the dictionary for a formal definition but I am more interested in your personal beliefs. At the least, I hope to stimulate thought on this subject. I will be sharing my thoughts and those of some of our contemporaries in the next several posts.

The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.”   Harriet Ann Jacobs

 

Part 1 of 7

Photos by Pixabay