Archive for the ‘compassion’ Tag

“THE COLOR OF LAW.”   Leave a comment

I JUST POSTED A REVIEW OF THE COLOR OF LAW: A FORGOTTEN HISTORY OF HOW OUR GOVERNMENT SEGREGATED AMERICA. Richard Rothstein.

Definitely needs reading. Definitely not at bedtime.

With a Doctorate in Social Psychology and years of professor-ing, plus a year of shared readings and discussions via a Zoom group during the COVID quarantine, I thought I had constructed a pretty strong cognitive structure of knowledge and understanding about racial matters. But Rothstein’s book has revealed and repaired the cracks in my structure one nail of reinforcing fact at a time. As a person with a pretty hefty load of compassion ability I found it painful reading – not to be read at bedtime.

At about an eighth of the way through the book I looked at the remaining width of the softcover book in my hands and thought, “What more torture/horror can there be?” And there was more – and then more. Now that I’ve finished, the thoughts keep coming. How can humans be so cruel to each other? How can one deal with the fact that inborn appearance condemns one to limited options no matter what one can do or accomplish that would evoke honors in the white world? How frustrating to suffer the physical restraint of red-lining and then be blamed for the results of living in a crowded space.  How would it be to raise a productive and healthy child in a world where he or she is defined from the beginning as inferior? How would it be to have one’s productive and successful neighborhood destroyed to make way for a highway to convenience the people who can live where you are not permitted to live? How could it be that I didn’t notice in graduate school that none of my classmates supported by the GI bill were black?

I’m ranting. But then there were my other thoughts. What have been the strengths of a people so deliberately restrained who could still be loving, joyful, dedicated patriotic contributors to our country? What might I learn from that?

 Finally, I find myself wondering how this knot in the freedom of our special country can be loosened? I find myself thinking how beautiful it would be if all our people could enjoy the kind of responsible opportunities described in “My Father’s House.” If this were fully the land of the free? Remember that simple point from your Intro Psych class? Punishment prevents behavior. Reward encourages it … ?

But this is a book review. What did I think of the book – as if I hadn’t already told you? It’s an important book but I wouldn’t choose it for the first assigned text in an advanced course in racial equity. I’m afraid it would drive some people to resign from the rest of the program. It’s painful.

Now I’ll go look at the other reviews of this book.

SOMETIMES LEARNING THE TRUTH CALLS FOR COURAGE — REVIEW OF “EVICTED”   1 comment

I just posted the following review on amazon and Goodreads.

EVICTED,: POVERTY & PROFIT IN THE AMERICAN CITY, MATTHEW DESMOND

Don’t even think of reading this book if you’d rather not know the truth, or if compassion is annoying, or your compassion has worn you thin, or you don’t need or want to know anything more about the lives of your fellow Americans, or if people don’t count as fellow Americans if they are surviving below your status.

 Do make contact with this book if you care about our democracy and still hope for its long and healthier survival, or your compassion leads you to care about the lives of other people, or if you still believe that understanding/knowledge will help construct a road to solution.

This in-depth, detailed report of real people – mostly black – living lives of poverty in the inner city – to which they have been confined by laws and regulations – cannot but make you sad, angry, maybe even hopeful that something might be done to make this more like the America you want to live in. Consider this on page 295: “The persistence and brutality of American poverty can be disheartening, leaving us cynical about solutions. But as Scott and Patrice will tell you, a good home can serve as the sturdiest of footholds. When people have a place to live, they become better parents, workers, and citizens.”

 Spend a day with mothers whose time is completely taken up with the search for an apartment not only that they can afford, but that will accept them. Be with them when they have been evicted because their son or daughter has done a childish act of disturbing mischief that led to eviction – eviction, which is now a cause for rejection from other apartment rentals. Be with them when the apartment they do manage to rent – for a huge portion of their take-home pay – has non-functioning plumbing which they hesitate to report to the landlord because complaint can lead to eviction. Learn about the complex understanding of the financial and relational economic system that governs life on the move from one eviction to another. Try to raise a child who is regularly moved from one school to another because of frequent evictions and homelessness.

 Also on p. 295: “If Arleen and Vanetta didn’t have to dedicate 70 or 80 percent of their income to rent, they could keep their kids fed and clothed and off the streets They could settle down in one neighborhood and enroll their children in one school, providing them the opportunity to form long-lasting relationships with friends, role models, and teachers. They could start a savings account or buy their children toys and books, perhaps even a home computer. The time and emotional energy they spent making rent, delaying eviction, or finding another place to live when homeless could instead be spent on things that enriched their lives: community college classes, exercise, finding a good job, maybe a good man too.”

(And remember, until recently most renting families could reach the goal of spending not more than 30 percent of their income on rent.)

 Notice that each of the quotes above begins with names, and that’s the value of this disturbing but essential book. The author is telling the real stories of real people he has come to know in depth. These are not cold statistics reported by some distant observer. The author knows the renters – and the landlords – their lives and problems.

 For those who have the courage to reach into and understand these lives a new world of understanding will open and, one hopes, a world of new, creative, saving potentia

 Yes, I’m passionate about this most unusual and important book.

HOW BEAUTIFUL IT WOULD HAVE BEEN   2 comments

How beautiful it would have been to see our nation draw together with courage, cooperation, and compassion to defeat this coronavirus enemy. How proud we could have been to make our contribution to life-saving world leadership.

With sadness and regret I awake too early in the morning to mourn our missed opportunity.

TWO A.M. – PTSD      6 comments

Sometimes when I wake up during the night I go right back to sleep. More often, though, thoughts catch me and I can’t let go of the pain of compassion. (Feeling with.) It’s in the DNA. You’ll see when you read My Father’s House.

 The other night I couldn’t help imagining being a man living free in my homeland – just living my life. And then being chased down and captured, bound, and delivered as cargo to a slave ship. There being shackled head to toe to make maximum space for a profitable cargo. Left to lie in my own and others bodily excretions, becoming thereby filthy black cargo. Living with my own pain and the moans of my fellow “cargo.”

I imagined being brought ashore in the states and hosed down for presentation to those who would buy me as a piece of cargo. Being totally re-defined by others willing to torture me into accepting my new less-than-human status. Struggling with the agony of losing the life I had and who I was. How could PTSD not become a part of my DNA to be transmitted to my offspring?

How could I not respond with fear, rage, running, resistance, fighting back? Is it at all surprising that George Floyd pleaded for understanding of his claustrophobia? that Treyvon Martin fought back when he was being followed? That Rayshard Brooks grabbed a weapon when he was about to be constrained?

But what do I know? I’m just an aged white lady imagining things in the middle of the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANOTHER LEG ON THE JOURNEY TO MY NEW HOME   7 comments

Since I closed on the sale of my townhome on August 30th, I’ve had a wonderful time living first with my friend and neighbor Jean in the unit across the way, and then Dianne, two units down. Now it’s time to leave here and move in on my son for a few days before we take off for the South American cruise we arranged to help me kill time – and find food and shelter – for another segment of the journey to the Waters of Excelsior. I’ve seen my unit twice, now, the second time to request some modifications. I love my apartment — can hardly wait to move in. But I have to wait for my scheduled move-in day — December 3.

In the process, my life has become a rather disorganized – albeit pleasurable – mess. But I have managed to stay on top of “My Father’s House.” At the suggestion of MaryCarroll Moore in the course I took at Madeline Island, the 900 some pages are being divided into separate books. The first one, with the working title “My Father’s House: Book One – from Tursås, Sweden to Forestville/Bristol Connecticut,” is about 300 pages long. Now I’m looking for people – preferably who don’t know me – to review it before it gets another editing — and then, probably, another. If you have any suggestions, I’d appreciate hearing them, and I’m happy to attach a “Word” copy to someone who’d like to commit to the task/pleasure. This is the time when I need people to be honest in their comments.

A good thing about e-mail is that it follows pretty easily wherever I go. I can even get it sporadically when I’m at sea (literally as well as figuratively.)

My regret is that I haven’t eked out the time to fulfil my middle-of-the night intentions to blog about my hopes and fears for my country and my part in it. In a nutshell, I long for decisions based on hope, compassion, and love. I dread choices based on fear, isolation, and hate. In the sleepless hours I’ve read Olivia Hawker’s “The Ragged Edge of Night.” (I do recommend it.) It’s the story of ordinary German’s working to live, love, survive and thrive in the shattering results of Hitler’s fascism. As bombs drop in the nearby city, and personal destruction threatens, they frequently ask the question, “When could we have acted to stop it?’ I ask the same question now – “How can we stop it?”

Like the characters in the novel, I know I have to work at staying alive, happy, and productive to avoid the potential for inaction and despair as I can’t avoid exposure to political smear tactics. My father and his house saw many terrible periods in our history, but I am sure there wasn’t the desire to destroy those in the opposition even after victory has been won.

So, I wish healthy, productive, and satisfying survival and growth mechanisms for all of us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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