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America, endangered   1 comment

I remember beautiful cities I once visited; Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Washington D.C., New York city… the list goes on. It was not about the monuments or museums visited, infrastructure erected, landscape or location that made them great cities, but its history and sense of community that made it ‘home’ to those living there. Whether driving through affluent neighborhoods with manicured, landscaped yards, little clapboard or cottage cape cod houses, or the boroughs of crowded brick tenement apartment buildings there was a culture all its own. Is that now gone forever? It is certainly all changed. Is it in danger of ever being once what it was? Where/when did this country, or its leaders fail its people, to change all that we loved, took pride in, and vowed to protect and preserve ? Are we still in America, the Beautiful, or America, endangered? Where are the people that took pride in their cities, preserving, protecting what they had created? Are they all now in the streets of these cities looting, protesting, destroying and knocking down monuments erected of historical events and leaders that once fought for the people’s rights and freedoms? Are they the ones vandalizing public and private properties, victimizing the innocent that stand by and watch their homes or their businesses burned, their monuments destroyed? Why do they refuse the help, want to defund or abolish  the police and federal agents that took an oath to guard and protect all the people, black and white, red and Asian, poor and rich, homeless and sheltered, Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Atheist? What started as a “black lives matter” movement for racial injustice has now become more a revolution to oppose humane justice for all. These mobs are driven by the powers of socialists and anarchists to destroy all that we fought to preserve; our democracy, our freedoms, our free will, our voice, our culture, our livelihood our future, our faith, our very existence. Whatever name they choose to call themselves they are now killing, injuring and wreaking havoc on the innocent. They are not just common folks with a sign and a cry for change, but leaders, officials and politicians in office. Though we are not forced to take sides, to commit to, or support one group or party, we have a choice and we have a voice. Where do we draw the line at what is allowed or acceptable when the blood of the innocent pools at the feet of protestors aligned with anarchists? Who will speak for the victims of a revolution gone bad? Who will we stand with, not fight against? Are we still even one nation? We are for certain not, “one nation under God,” But, one so divided, so broken that there is no longer an America the Beautiful, but one endangered. And it is the latter one I fear is soon to be extinct if it cannot stand as one and come together for the sake of democracy and justice for all.

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Joyce E. Mannhalter © July 2020

 

Posted July 29, 2020 by Joyce in Essays, My Writings, Politics

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Toppled by forces beyond our control

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We get Chinook winds here in northern Colorado that can get up to 100+ mph. The strength and force can blow over even the strongest trees. That happened recently to some trees we had up on our mountain property northwest of Fort Collins. We don’t live up there full time, but when we went up there recently we found some of our largest, even healthy looking trees toppled over, uprooted completely from the ground around the rocks and boulders with the roots exposed.

It reminds me of how vulnerable our country and government administration is right now. The media running amok with ‘leaks’, compromising influences, immigration bans, repeals, etc. further adds to the already weakened, wobbly foundation. Add to that all the protest marches of people taking their gripes, complaints, personal vendettas and agendas to the streets with chants, signs and slogans like ‘a day without immigrants’ to change what they can’t, or won’t abide by, and we have a volatile situation that can only get worse, not better. If things continue as they’re going ‘We the People’ will destroy and topple what was set up to protect all when our country was founded.

Everyone has an immigrant story to tell. My grandfather and his family were immigrants from Odessa, Russia who set down roots, and established a life based on the values our country set forth in the constitution. He went through legal channels, became a U.S. citizen, was naturalized, and valued every right and freedom in this country. He voted his candidate choice, but he did not put down others who voted differently, or disagreed with him. If he disagreed on something, whether one in political office or another who wronged him he did not pick up a sign and take his offense to the street, but chose to pray over it instead of protesting over it. He carried a bible instead, and lived by the principles in it, with respect for others, regardless their political perspective, faith or life choices. If only we could return to the things that really did ‘make America great,’ what a wonderful country we would have. Like him or not, disagree if you want, but we now have a man who is trying to do that, for the good of all people.

In the New Testament bible (Matthew 13: 3-9) it tells about Jesus’s parable of the seed sown. He talks about the seed sown by the sower planting a crop. Good seed goes down deep in the soil where there are no rocks or boulders obstructing its growth. It takes root and nothing but the forces beyond our control will topple it or blow it over upon itself. Seed scattered and tossed among the rocks and weeds will be easily uprooted, blown over, and not grow. We are known by the fruit of our tree. Good seed was planted in this country when founded, and the constitution enacted. It rooted, grew, flourished and prospered. But, today much of that root system is in jeopardy of toppling a great tree.

There will never be harmony or unity here in our country when thousands choose to defy all that our president is trying to do for the whole of this country. Wisdom comes in knowing how best to reflect our voice, disapproval or disenchantment of things we don’t like. Marching in the streets, shouting chants, carrying signs, does little to affect real change. It is just a lot of noise, and fodder for CNN News.

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Joyce E. Johnson, 2017

 

“The Greatest of These…”

The news last Friday of the passing of Harper Lee, author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize award for her bestselling novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, and her more recent, Go Set a Watchman was perhaps the spark that ignited the controversial civil rights movement. Her characters, Atticus Finch, his daughter, Scout and son, Jem became embroiled in the lives and events of their friends and neighbors. The fact that they lived in a town in Alabama’s south where their neighbors included both white and black people put them in difficult positions, while taking sides to defend that which they felt the need to preserve and protect; tolerance, equality and fairness, whatever one’s race or color, leaving an imprint on their lives from that day forward.

The subject matter she wrote about in her novels dealing with issues of race discrimination became nothing less than a volatile time bomb erupting during the civil rights era with the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., cutting short his realization of the ‘dream’ of equality for all, and his own fight to protect and preserve the same.

Today again, we see the rise of conflict, and a feverish animosity of hatred and intolerance whatever one’s color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or lifestyle. It is like the beginnings to a crescendo pitch of the civil rights era all over again with demonstrations, shootings and mistrust in a country that was founded on the principles of equality for all.

I was a teenager during the civil rights era and remember well the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and found myself on both sides of the conflict. I had friends who were black, but I also felt the fear of rape and victimization of those of color whom I felt I could not trust with good reason as I was stalked and followed home from work one night fearing I could not get home in time. We also lived close to black neighborhoods. Later, the aftermath and rape of one I knew, and having been a witness to the crime left me bitter, and fearful, living across the street from where it was committed.

But, it is the hate instilled in one’s heart, whether or not they inflict harm, or worse, death on one they stalk, or target that becomes an even worse crime.

February is designated as a month when Love is encouraged, emphasized and sold by the millions in advertised products and displays. But, need it be just one month, or one day only that we show kindness, love, fairness, equality, tolerance to those who are not only different from us in color or style? Can we truly choose to love one, regardless of who they are? Does it need be only the ‘dream’ of one man of color who lived his life in peace, and demonstrated it, so that love and equality could be realized in this world, not merely dreamed?

1 Corinthians, chapter 13 is known as the ‘Love chapter.’ It says in chapter 13:4-8 (NIV), “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” And, finally, in verse, 13, it says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

I choose to love.

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Joyce E. Johnson © 2016


Posted February 22, 2016 by Joyce in Essays, My Writings

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