Whose idea is this, anyway?

My favorite TV ad features a big eyed, sad faced, muppet-like creature that nobody wants around. Ignored by all, left to sleep next to the trash bin in a dirty back alley, it wanders from place to place, dragging its scraggly tail behind it ,until one kind soul finally opens a door and invites it inside. As it walks out of the darkness and into the light its raggedness gradually transforms, until, behold! It is magically reborn, sporting luminous rainbow colored plumage, while an audience of admirers generously cheers it on.

This heart rending spot is about ideas 

How we fear, resist and ignore them, leaving them to find their way up through the cracks of our lives far too often., I’m surprised at how good we are at doing this. And how ignorant we are of what we’re doing, most, if not all of the time.

 I’m equally surprised at how easilly we get caught in this trap ,ignoring even a brilliant  idea whose time came, so many years ago, when we first opened our doors to people, from around the world, desperate  to escape horrendous conditions, seeking comfort upon our safe, un-war torn  shores.
In a comment in the November 9th edition of The New Yorker on line
George Packer reminds us that “In the Second World War, Congress passed legislation that made resettlement in the U.S. harder for Jewish victims of Nazism than for Germans uprooted by the war Hitler started. The chairman of the Senate’s immigration sub-committee presented the problem with a loathsome flourish,  stating, ‘Many of those who seek entrance into this country have little concept of our form of government. Many of them come from lands where Communism had its first growth and dominates the political thought and philosophy of the people.’  Does this sound familiar?  Why doesn’t he just say what he means. (Too many of them are Jews. We thought that problem was disposed of)
Only the angry persistence of President Harry S. Truman got Congress to expand the numbers and remove the discriminatory provisions. so they too could live and flourish.”
New and foreign people (like new and foreign ideas) scare us.
Who knows what beliefs they harbor. What harm they might do? Do they hate us or love us? Will they adapt, or will they flounder in the thick soup of “American exceptionalism?”
At first, I was torn. But after slogging through my future- based fears the choice became clear: its time for our compassion challenged* country, which gives such easy lip service to “freedom and liberty for all,”  to do what it was created to do, by honoring the highest of its ideas and ideals.
 I hope that’s not too much to ask. Or is it?
Here’s an image to move this idea along:
Coming Home
See before you the Statue of Liberty.
See her raising her lamp higher, and beckoning the lost and homeless to Freedom’s Shore.
Become as one with her, as you sense, feel and live how it is to walk the talk of liberty and, freedom for all.
Then breathe out and open your eyes, knowing all is well.
*The “Idea” ad is from GE.
* Compassion challenged is a term used by Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak, in her November 3rd column on the plight of the homeless, as exacerbated by the law.

 

 

 

Camping in the Garden of Good and Evil

 It’s summer. And I got what I wished for. Peace, quiet, warm days, cool nights, and Silence. Silence. Silence. Hardly even a bird chirping out here in Indianola, Washington, where stimulation comes from the inside out or it doesn’t come at all. The sounds of silence are everywhere. Broken only on occasion by music or memory. Then, out of the blue, I hear from someone with whom I went to summer camp over 50 years ago.

I have no idea who he is, or was, but we were in the same place at about the same time. And that means what? That we remember the same things? We don’t! That we shared the same experience? We didn’t. But it leads me to join a google group of others who also went to this camp. This strange place of good and evil, where I lived for eight weeks each summer from when I was seven to when I was seventeen.

What seemed good, inside and out, existed right alongside something rotten

A discourse evolves. What I discover is doubt and a wrinkly thread of closed mindedness. People don’t want to hear anything negative about a time in life that they recall as idyllic. They don’t like it when the layers are peeled back to reveal worms that ate away at the apple at the same time they were biting into it, discovering that what seemed good, both inside and out, existed right alongside something rotten.Who can blame them?

One person comments on my experience of disciplinary overkill and verbal abuse by saying “Hmmmm. . .”  But Hmmmm smacks of disbelief and questions the validity of someone else’s (in this case my own) experience.

Best to keep an open mind

Think about it and see where that leads. When another’s experience doesn’t jibe with our own, best to keep an open mind. To listen without judgment. To suspend the Hmmms and dispense with the self righteousness. While one person remembers warmth and camaraderie, another recalls getting smacked on the rear with a hairbrush and left alone in the woods. Many recall both good and bad. But it’s the dark and hate-filled words, that burn holes in my consciousness and resist forgetting and forgiving. Though not directed solely at me, I felt every one of them. At thirteen your memory is good and your sense of justice remains uncompromised.

Many years later, I meet up with an old camp friend at a tennis club at Candlewood lake. As we sit at a table by the clubhouse, we recall those troubling days of yore while people gather round and ask if this is fiction or fact. No one knows whether to laugh or cry. This woman and I haven’t seen each other for almost twenty years. We have a lot to say.

English was a second language
My first year at  camp was 1944. War time. Most of the kids came from refugee families. English was a second language. There was a dual allegiance to the country left behind,  and the country they fled to, a split personality. For some, physical discipline was an acceptable child rearing tactic. But not in my home, nor in the homes of my friends. Our parents accused us of having big imaginations. Since they wouldn’t do this  they thought others wouldn’t either. That’s how naive they were.

A real and present danger 

As I read the commentary of “Hmmm’s,” the  disbelief bubbles to the surface, And I realize once again, how discounting other people’s experience is the seed/core of a world in discord. A world out of harmony — tone deaf and in need of re-tuning. A real and present danger for all of us.

For those who would like to open and attune themselves to the wholeness of life’s experience, including the parts with which we’re not familiar, here’s an imagery exercise to serve that intention.

 Tuning In

Close your eyes, breathe out, and See yourself as a radio tuning your antennae to the wisdom of the universe. Know you are receiving vital information directly off the airwaves from a station that’s broadcasting the truth. All of it.
Listen carefully. Then respond without question, or trying to figure it out. See what happens and how you feel. Then open your eyes and return.