Archive for the ‘History’ Category

It Repeats Itself

Posted: July 21, 2014 in History, Life, Politics, Race, Religion, Society

DISCLOSURE: I have Jewish, Muslim, Christian and atheist friends. All of them value life.

Anyone who follows my blog knows I’m fond of making lists. It alleviates stress for me and makes me proud of my levity and humor. That said, there are lists that are not easy or funny and will cause much stress.

I’m referring to a time and place when paperwork, typewriters and forgeries equaled life. Many Jewish and non-Jewish children were saved by good people who were not Jewish. World War II …. big deal, right?

I know everyone knows about the Holocaust, Schindler’s List etc. And yes, many acts of heroism, heartache and cruelty. Should we just let such history go? It’s been 75 years since Hitler reared his psychotically evil head.

Shall we forget it, then? HELL NO! Why not? The evil spirit of the Holocaust is here, today. Today’s Nazis go to Synagogue, fast for Ramadan and shut their Christian eyes and ears to the world’s suffering children.

An Israeli Parliament member stated that all Palestinians are terrorists and their mothers should be killed. All I could think of was her ancestors. Does she not know who she is? http://english.astroawani.com/news/show/israeli-mp-says-mothers-of-all-palestinians-should-be-killed-40024

Perhaps she thinks that her race is superior? Where have I heard that before? All of us are here for a reason. Whether you believe in God or not we can all agree that there is no superior race. We are capable of wondrous reasoning and self-serving bullshit.  

 

 

As a young girl growing up the poverty-stricken neighborhoods of L.A. I dreamt of travel to interesting places. I was sure that I would never see my fantasy locations given my background.

Nonetheless, I sought out photos of New York and the Hawaiian islands. I interrogated anyone that every went there and the typical oohs and aahs followed.  

As I immersed myself in books (encyclopedias) I found my list expanding to Australia, Egypt, Cuba, UK and France. The world in general became more real to me at a young age.

So I sought out libraries, museums and gardens. My mother took me to the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA http://www.huntington.org/. They had a Japanese garden that transported my mind to beautiful classic Japan.

I actually developed a crush on King Tut and the very fictional Aladdin. It’s funny how a child’s mind works. I wonder if kids ever think this way.

When I met my husband in 1999 he took me to New York to meet his parents. I was an 8 years-old in a 39 year-old’s body for a few days. Less than a year later we were on our honeymoon in Maui.

I got to see the twin towers from the top of the Empire State building before the horror of 9/11. I got to touch a banyan tree that was living like a forest. A few years ago, we went to the island of Kauai and saw the Pacific’s mini Grand Canyon and took a boat ride on Hawaii’s only navigable river.

The 8 year-old me could never fathom such treasures in the world. I hope there are kids of all ages that feel the way I do. This way of thinking fosters wonderment, tolerance, joy and concern for the world. We all need that to avoid living in a self-imposed jail. 

 

 

 

 

So this is the end the 4th of July 2014 and I’ve been thinking all day what it means to be a patriot. And no, I am not talking about the New England Patriots.

If you wave the flag, eat hot dogs, watch the fireworks and repeatedly shout USA does that mean you’re proud to be an American? Don’t sing that song please. I love it too, but I’m trying to make a point here.

I think that being a true patriot means being real about your country. I, by the way, love my country. I was born and raised here. And I thank God that I was granted that good fortune.

That said, I will not place America on a Virgin Mary pedestal. She is not beyond reproach by any stretch of the imagination. And I resent those that try to sell that sentimental propaganda.

When I say that I love my country I am referring to the people. I mean the Republicans, Democrats, Independents, documented, undocumented, English speaking and otherwise people. This country belongs to the world for better or for worse.

America is the world! The world goes to America. This is a fact. That sushi you love so much doesn’t come from a guy named Joe who hails from Hoboken. So you fear the terrorist but must have your Friday night falafel and kabobs. Where’s the logic?

Lets talk about terrorism. When you get kidnapped, raped, beaten, chained to a ship for 6 months and forced to work for the rest of your life without pay or security wouldn’t you be terrified? Then of course we have the real natives, but it’s okay because of a catchy phrase – manifest destiny.

Manifest Destiny: historical expansionist doctrine: the doctrine or belief prevalent in the 19th century that the United States had the God-given right to expand into and possess the whole of the North American continent.

Okay brown people (i.e. Mexicans and native Americans) we had a talk with the man upstairs and He wants you guys to get out of our way. But who will clean your houses, mow your lawn, pick your fruit and nurse your babies, Senor? Yes, I’m a Latina.

What do I love about my country? I love the bravery, innovation, humanity and artistic beauty that flourishes here. I love that we can grow from our mistakes. And every now and then, the little guy topples the giant as CNN, MSNBC and Twitter run the story.

My beloved country is good, bad, brilliant, stupid, just and corrupt as hell. And I am allowed and encouraged to say it in a global forum – this blog. God bless American. May she always be perfectly flawed.

 

 

 

 

When I was a kid there were academic chores that I loathed. Adulthood for me was a divorce from such chores. Who came up with such ideas? I hope today’s kids aren’t plagued with such tasks.

Diorama – The bane of my existence. I was never artistically inclined. So I was doomed to a mediocre grade.

Timelines – Why must I draw a line that branches out? There was never enough space to write the events. Couldn’t I just write it out normally?

The run through hell – I grew up in Southern California and heat was a fact of life. We even had a thing called smog alert days that meant we couldn’t be outside. But there were days when the smog level was ‘acceptable’ and running a makeshift track was required. ‘Acceptable’ my ass! It was hot, awful and exhausting.

Brown paper bag book cover – It looked great at first, but after a month in my torn backpack it was toast. And I had no gift for decorating it.

Joint projects with an ‘assigned’ classmate – I was cursed with stupid, lazy project partners. I did all the work and my partner quoted a few keynotes. Result was predictable. We both got good grades.

Book reports – I love books. I always have. What I hate are bullshit writers. Not always but sometimes a book was assigned to me. If it was crap writing the report was like pulling a blade from my stomach.

History – I am a great lover of history. Thorough and complete history. So when certain unsavory facts about American history were omitted by my teachers and text books, I fervently protested. My teachers refused to debate this openly. So I was sent to the dean’s or principal’s office often.

I was a raging liberal before I ever hit puberty. I cared little for proper ladylike behavior. Justice, guts and stick-it-to-the-man blood coursed through my veins. In contrast, school was a conservative shoe on my back.  I hope teachers today cherish the off-kilter kids. They’re gems in the rough.

For the past few weeks, my husband and I tried to watch as many of the Academy Awards nominated films. Naturally, 12 Years A Slave was at the top of the list.

Predictably, it made me cry a lot. The better the acting, the more the tears. But then I was prompted to seek out more stories of slavery. More to the point, the psychological and sociological effects of it on everyone involved.

I read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs (alias Linda Brent). Miss Jacobs was a literate runaway slave and authored her own narrative. Her first mistress taught her to read and write.

What I took away from her story was that white people enhanced and tormented her life. In a way, they enslaved and freed her. Aside from teaching her to read and write, her first owners loved her.

As a teenager, she actually chose to have affair with a handsome, loving white man who fathered her 2 children. He also paid for the children’s freedom. Her paramour tried to pay for her freedom, but her master was unwilling.

She and her children went through several trials of fire because of the choices she made. Staying in hiding and escaping the South took years and self-imposed agony. Even when she was reunited with her kids in the North, Ms. Jacobs didn’t feel free.

She felt that slavery was a demon that corrupted everyone, black and white. She had pity for them. If not for slavery, men could be good husbands. Wives could feel secure about their marriages. Children could be moral, happy and pure.

How does one explain away a bloody whipping post or light-skinned babies? You can’t. All you have left is a blatant conclusion. To put it mildly, it’s staring at you in the face. You’d have to be blind not to see it.

We enslave ourselves with fear, pride, ignorance and shame.  Abusive vices? Domestic violence? Sex slaves and human trafficking at the ‘massage‘ parlor around the corner? I don’t want to get involved. I might get hurt.

Why? Fear of the unknown is the least of your problems. Who knows what may happen? If we do nothing, nothing will happen and evil wins. Someone or an issue somewhere will quietly disappear and all we’ll see is a bloody whipping post.

But then there’s a bunch of liars who will tell you it’s not real. They will tell you that the facts are distorted, inaccurate, one-sided and ‘we have specialist on this too’. Reality is what’s real for us.

If you’re a runaway slave in the north, you’re still a slave. If your husband beats you and leaves to go to work, you’re still a trapped battered wife. All this is real until you or someone else shatters that reality with a sledgehammer.