Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A Time For Thanks

 It has been a while – too long a while – since I posted an essay on this spiritual blog. Like many others, my attention this year has been on the many difficult social/ political/health events occurring all around me, threatening many things that I hold dear and special. It has been an exhausting and emotionally draining time. Now, as some of these currents began to slowly ebb, it is a time to begin to restore and rebalance ourselves for what lies ahead, even as that “ahead” may continue to be vague and ill-defined. We have much work to do in order to heal the pains and divisions that have so consumed our society these past several years, a task that can seem overwhelming. But we must try. We must re-find our sense of confidence, our trust in one another, our belief in our spiritual drive towards “betterment” and “can do” that has always driven us. Perhaps, in spite of the many negative feelings we may have accumulated of late, a new beginning can start with recognizing and expressing our thanks to some of those people – our neighbors – who have voluntarily stepped up to the plate at a time when most needed.

So we give thanks to the health care workers, working overtime on the front lines of a seemingly unstoppable killer virus, fighting to save the sick and afflicted. In hospitals, make-shift medical tents, nursing homes, manning long lines at drive-through testing centers. Doctors, nurses, maintenance and support staff, EMT/emergency personnel, working together with too often inadequate supports from government and industry. Constantly facing too large a swath of the public that disavows the danger (“a hoax”) of Covid-19 and flagrantly refuses to cooperate with preventive measures – until they wind up in the care of those exhausted health workers. Health workers burnt out from having turned the switch on life-sustaining machinery to “OFF” too many times, working among the over-extended, often make-shift ICU beds. We thank them.

So we give thanks to the families of the sick, separated from their loved ones, unable to hold their hands or say words of comfort to them as their breaths of life slide slowly away. Loved ones taken too soon, too unexpectedly. Leaving behind torn and devastated families searching for some understandable reason that they can wrap their arms around – all the while working to hold the family together as it moves forward to its new future. We thank those families for their examples of resilience and courage.

So we give thanks to the parents of all our young children as they try to adapt their lives – and their children’s lives – to a constantly changing environment. Schools open / semi-open / closed / doing remote learning. Parents providing ad hoc make-shift home care, while trying to maintain careers and/or functioning in new “home workplaces.” We thank these parents as they endure the many strains of parenthood within love, each day finding new ways to “figure it out,” within circumstances never envisioned.

So we give thanks to teachers and educational staff who are continually adapting to new programs, new rules, new methodologies, new schedules for teaching America’s children – children who are also part of the “teachers’ children.” The commitment of these teachers to support their students – both intellectually and emotionally – through their extraordinary efforts represents the best of their profession. We thank these teachers for their devotion to the littlest among us.

So we give thanks to those who may be threatened with, or are currently, out of work, and the owners of small businesses unable to stay open. They are our neighbors who spend each day in worry as they make constant decisions about where the food will come from, how needed medical care will be obtained, whether they may become homeless. And on the behalf those people, we give thanks for the many volunteers manning the food banks and thrift stores, and people raising funds or creating special programs of support. We thank those people donating money or goods to help these many others in need.

So we give thanks to the many election staff and volunteer poll workers who showed up to ensure that our democracy held together in spite of the health crisis. To accommodate record-setting voter numbers, processes were created ad hoc as needed. In spite of threats of violence at the polls, and overt political pressures and attempted anti-voting antics by those who should know better, there was no violence. There was no fraud. There were just people committed to exercising their right to vote and run their own country. We thank both voters and poll workers.

So we give thanks to those public officials and government service workers who, in a time when public responsibility and the Constitutional rule of law have teetered on the brink of collapse, have stood up and reasserted their oath of office. We recognize that, for many, such “standing up” has been injurious to their financial well-being and/or reputation. We thank them for their courage to act nonetheless, and for thereby inspiring us to act accordingly.

So we give thanks to the genuine “essential workers,” those many often-invisible people whose work allows the rest of us to do what we do, to live the life of “new normalcy” that we are experiencing. The farmers, grocery workers, food workers, sanitation workers, gas station providers, bank/ATM personnel, pharmacists, home repairers, and countless under-appreciated others who are keeping our society running while we sort this all out. We thank them all for their unheralded contributions.

Certainly we feel these desperate times all too acutely, tired and frustrated by its seeming insolvability and interminableness. But at this year’s Thanksgiving dinner table, regardless of the empty chairs and smaller numbers, we would do well to remember and acknowledge those to whom our thanks are due. Those original Pilgrims feasted not because times were great. They feasted because they had faced hardship and had come through it, scathed but survived. Having faith in each other, and the confidence in the always inevitable greatest good, we will do the same.

As has been said, the sun is a ways shining, even when it hides behind the clouds.  It is on us to have the steadiness and patience to wait for our time when the clouds will inevitably clear.

©   2020   Randy Bell             https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com

Monday, June 8, 2020

Our Family Stories

Around 30 years ago, I decided to take up the adventure of tracing my family history. As others have found, this exercise can be a far-reaching, ever-expanding, near-consuming endeavor; a descent into a series of black holes and dead-end brick walls as one continually opens new doors of never-ending inquiry. But it is also one of the highly rewarding things we can do in our lifetime, to see ourselves placed within the context of many others.

There are three levels of discovery that come from family research. The first level is the basic facts of one’s family: names, birth and death dates, places; the vertical and horizontal relationships and entanglements among each other. The second level is learning their individual stories: how they lived, what transpired, what journeys they traveled. The third level is placing the experiences of their lives within the larger historical context occurring around them, sweeping them up, molding and guiding their lives beyond what may have been their choice.

Currently, over 1200 unique names make up my genealogical family of the last 400 hundred years, with varying levels of detail known about their lives. As I occasionally reflect on their lives and times in relation to my life and time, several themes arise.

To my knowledge, not one member of my genealogical family was ever lynched in a vigilante hanging, or burned alive tied to a tree while an “audience” applauded. Not one person was ever the property of another, committed to a lifetime of unpaid service with no say in the matter. Since the founding of America, not one man – and since 1920 not one woman – has been openly denied the right to vote or run for office based on their skin color, country of origin, educational level or wealth. Since the late 1800s, all were entitled to a basic and equal education paid for at public expense. All of the men could choose to serve their country in the military and advance through rank based upon their service and abilities; my great-great-great-grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War to create a united America; my great-great-grandfather fought in the Confederate Army to try to break the country into two parts; both of their stories are a part of me. Some of my genealogical family were discriminated against in their jobs/careers due to their national origin, but over time they gradually broke through those barriers. My genealogical family was free to travel the country, settle where they chose, live in any section of town they could afford. When they encountered law enforcement officials or the judicial court system, they intuitively presumed they would be treated fairly and respectfully, with equal process as given to all others; generally their intuition was not disappointed. My father never felt the need to give me special instructions on how to act if I was stopped by the police. These are some of my family stories, experiences and cultural heritage. They are most certainly not everyone’s stories.

As I moved into adulthood, the life expectations I took for granted were not necessarily the expectations others could take for granted. Doors of opportunity were opened for me all my life if I demonstrated competency; others had doors slammed shut even before getting the chance to show their skills and talents. The three pillars of access, education, and resources helped me “get ahead” in the world; the absence of these have been barriers to a better life for many. I left my hometown and its high school with generally good memories, and the confidence that I was well-prepared to take on whatever life adventure I would choose. I am doubtful that my contemporaneous Black graduates at the segregated Lincoln High School – which sat next to their limited and restricted housing enclave across town – had comparable memories, or felt the same preparation and opportunities for their dreams of their upcoming life.

Family histories are more than just names and dates. They are the times families lived in and were affected by. They are stories long told, of good times and bad times and sometimes horrific times, handed down and reinforced over generations and centuries, even if now in just fragments of memories. Stories that continue to permeate the thinking, expectations, and instinctive reactions of persons today. Too often we judge others based upon our own life experiences, which likely bear little resemblance to the experiences of others – experiences we know little or nothing about. We all live in a bubble of our own family experience, and our bubbles are not the same. Yet when we take the time to puncture these bubbles, we can find a common core that can be shared.

We know so little, have such a superficial knowledge, of each other. Yet it only requires some time and sincere effort on our part to really listen to one another. To hear the Family Stories that have shaped who we are. To assume someone has lived a different life than ours, and thereby has naturally arrived at different conclusions. To break out of our insulating, protective bubble. It is only through such listening that we can find the unity of our humanity. Why do we make acceptance of each other, respect for each other, friendship with each other, so hard?

©   2020   Randy Bell             https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com

Monday, March 30, 2020

An Afternoon Walk

I just got home from a short walk in my neighborhood on this last Saturday in March 2020. Such a walk has not generally been a part of my daily routine. But with Covid-19 keeping everyone home, and my regular gym at the nearby YMCA closed due to the shutdown, it seems like a reasonable temporary substitute for daily exercise. It is not a long walk due to my physical limitations. But it provides a challenge to be accomplished, a beneficial movement of the body, and makes the chocolate chip cookie reward at the end even more satisfying.

On this particular day, we are experiencing a summer day preview: sunny, in the mid-80s, expected to last for a couple of days more. Then it will be back into the normal mid-50s/60s mountain temperatures, with more rain. It was a very mild winter, but I am still glad to have that season behind us.

We are preparing for a statewide “stay at home” order on Monday 5pm, though we are already in a county/city version of the same. During this walk I was struck by the abnormal silence of the city. Minimal traffic on the roads, a few people out for a walk or jog, keeping a safe distance as they pass one another. Meanwhile, the sights and sounds of the birds are more than happy to fill the air space. The garden plants are gradually peeking out to fill the eye space, perhaps dwarfed by the cascade of colors from the rainbow of fruit trees that make their appearance at this time. There is much to see and hear that is normally missed in our hurried busyness. Humanity thrashes around in its self-made chaos; Nature follows its own timeline and routines relatively undisturbed.

In the quiet of that stroll, there is time and space to think. To listen to my thoughts – thoughts different than those that arise during a formal mediation sit on the cushion. The pandemic virus seeks to consume much of our thinking time and energy. I feel the unavoidable concern about my own well-being, yet offset by a calm that says “do only what you can do when you can” – deal with what comes as it comes. Planning is good, but too many “what ifs” are not helpful.

I am aware of feeling intense anger at the erratic conduct of our President, his pettiness and complete avoidance of taking responsibility for anything. His untrue information. His lack of a cogent and coordinated plan. His ineffectiveness in directing badly needed resources and support to where it is needed most. But then that anger is replaced by a calmness and pride when I consider all the people stepping up – either in their official capacity or simply ad hoc, voluntary  responses. Governors, mayors, county/city officials, health care providers, CDC scientists speaking truth. Public service employees keeping our infrastructure running. Law enforcement officials, and numerous first responders. Meanwhile, the overriding priority is to remember the anonymous sick, the faceless statistics often known only to their family and loved ones, lying alone in their bed, in pain and trying to stay alive, accompanied only by the medical workers trying to keep them alive in the face of too many falsely-raised hopes and broken promises. The lament continues unendingly: where are the test kits, the masks, the ventilators?

We also need to acknowledge the everyday citizens responding to what is being asked of them. Voluntarily cooperating in what is a massive upheaval to their lives – emotionally, economically, professionally, socially, and daily family life. Most are improvising, making it up as they go into a future filled with blind spots. Doing what needs to be done, adapting on the fly, all because they care. Care about each other. Care about their connection to others. And thereby, their responsibilities to each other. Individually and together, they make us proud.

I have written before about our connection to one another, most recently an essay on this blogsite “A Slice Of Toast” (12/10/2019). Across the globe, for the last several years we have been experiencing a drive to separate ourselves from one another. To hunker down in our own cultural and geographic pockets and keep out those who are not like us. When this pandemic virus finally passes – which it ultimately will – things will not be the same. There will be much retrospective analysis needed, questions to ask, lessons to learn.

One of those biggest lessons will most certainly be a reaffirmation of our connection, our interdependence to one another. Indeed, our connection to all forms of life, and the gift of Nature that makes it all possible. Covid-19 knows no borders. Differentiates no race or ethnic group. Endorses no religion. Ignores variations of age, gender, and lifestyles. None of these labels affirms or exempts us. We can choose to respond by separating out of fear, or coming together out of love. Underneath our words, our practices, our costumes, our skin, we are all fundamentally the same. Equally vulnerable, equally of great potential accomplishment, equally in need of each other to survive and thrive. It appears that we need to continue to be reminded of that periodically.

These were my thoughts on a quiet spring afternoon’s walk. What will you think about on your next afternoon’s walk?

©   2020   Randy Bell             https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

My New Year's Wish

With a changing of the yearly calendar, this is the time when expressions of “Happy New Year” and “Best Wishes for the New Year” abound. For many, it is also an opportunity for a time of reflection on events past, an assessment of time present, and determination of directions to pursue in the forthcoming year. In that spirit of reflection, assessment, and determination, I offer some ideas that may be appropriate for your consideration.

My New Year’s wish is that we reflect upon our myriad ancestors and their stories, some known to us yet most unknown, whose widely varied lives made our lives possible in this time, place, and setting – we are because they were.

My New Year’s wish is that we strive to see our parents simply as the non-idealized adults that they are/were, with their own everyday struggles reflecting their own life experiences, that we may see them through the adult eyes of our present rather than the childhood eyes of our past, a key to living in the present not the past.

My New Year’s wish is that we thank our extended family for the lessons and experiences of our childhood, some magical, some difficult, that brought us to the threshold of our adulthood and sent us on the path we have subsequently chosen to live.

My New Year’s wish is that we prioritize time for our immediate family, for the love and presence that they give us as we struggle to hold them close, yet free them to live and fulfill their own destinies.

My New Year’s wish is that we remember our many friends encountered over the years, some but for a moment in time, others still traveling with us on our journey, some more honest or dependable than others, but all serving to enrich the life that we are living.

My New Year’s wish is that we recall the many teachers that have helped to guide our lives, some in formal teaching roles and others simply by their presence in our lives, some teaching from their knowledge, some inspiring by their example, all providing a foundation upon which we seek to build a “next generation.”

My New Year’s wish is that we acknowledge and respect the many mentors who have reached out to us, and opened opportunities and smoothed our way, whether intentionally or by happenstance, without whom our life would have meandered in wholly different directions with far different results.

My New Year’s wish is that we come to embrace the challenges and regrets that have occurred on our journey, some smaller bumps in the road, others extraordinarily difficult to pass through, many of which resulted in positive outcomes only seen well after the moment.

My New Year’s wish is that we learn to live comfortably with persons seemingly not like ourselves, to have respectful conversations of differing opinions, and to no longer see each other as different but as diverse reflections of the vast creative breadth of God’s Universe.

My New Year’s wish is that we allow ourselves to have big dreams, the confidence to strive for them, the ability to ignore the many naysayers, and the courage to manifest them into our own unbridled joy.

My New Year’s wish is that, as a result of this time of reflection, assessment, and determination, we reconnect with our true inner self, the self that transcends our daily life and our many roles, thereby infusing the spirituality of our being within all that we do and to all whom we encounter.

©   2020   Randy Bell                         https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com

Sunday, December 1, 2019

A Slice Of Toast

“When we try to take out one thing,
we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”
—John Muir, western U.S. conservationist

We are a unique person in this world, different from all others. We like thinking of ourselves as being unique, even as we may struggle to identify that which makes us unique and then genuinely live that uniqueness. But uniqueness can feel quite lonely, as our uniqueness also works to separate us all from all others, from all things surrounding us. That separation thereby creates barriers that oppose our concurrent desire for community. It is Community that gives us the sense of Connection to all that surrounds our life, and mitigates that aloneness we seek to avoid, that we often fear. Yet Community demands that we surrender some measure of our uniqueness by seeing and accepting our Commonality. Our uniqueness is actually only partial, a piece, of a life that otherwise is shared with, and common to, others. Our life is a balancing act. Our lives are built on a foundation common to all; our uniqueness flourishes in the manner in which we live our daily lives. It is in discovering, and living from, that common core, that our connection to one another will be found.

We are connected in myriad ways. For example, look closely at the construction of our bodies. The miracle of the human form is a series of separate body parts, cells, organs and fluids. Each component has a distinct purpose and job, all intricately interconnected together to make it work – mostly without our conscious awareness or doing anything. It just happens. All of the parts create the singular whole. Are we the parts? Or are we the whole? The elegant design of our interconnected body sets the theme for our interconnection with all that is in the world.

Look outside our physical self. When I fix a slice of toast for my morning breakfast, do I stop to reflect on how many people, and how many individual steps, were required for that toast to show up on my plate? The farmer that sowed the seed and grew the grain and harvested the result – all thanks to Nature who provided the dirt, the seed, the sunshine, the rain, the bumblebee that interacted to allow the grain to grow. The grain wholesaler who received the grain and then hired the driver to deliver the grain in a truck to the baker – a truck made by hundreds of people in the parts and materials chain. The baker that combined the grain with the other needed ingredients – each of which separately followed a similar creation and delivery process performed by similar people – to bake the bread. The next driver who carried the baked bread in his/her truck to the grocery store, the various workers who received the bread and put it on the shelves for us to carry it to the counter person to pay for it. The people and materials who built the car in which we took it home, to be put into the stove (manufactured by still others) that runs on gas/electricity  provided by numerous utility workers.

All of these people and steps need to come together in order for that simple piece of toast to appear on our breakfast plate. If we should then choose to add some jam onto that toast, the entire cycle is repeated. We must now consider all these additional people who have to get involved for our benefit, just for that little extra added pleasure. It makes for a very large crowd gathered around our dining table.

All rivers from which we drink ultimately flow to the one ocean that circumnavigates the earth – one interconnected ocean in spite of the intangible names by which we separate them. All of the air we breathe moves uninterrupted across man-made borders, respecting no boundaries – the woman in Oklahoma sneezes and the man in China says “god bless you.” It is by taking the time to look behind the curtain of our uniqueness that we find the many Connections that truly make our life possible. Make our life worthwhile.

We are not alone in this world, even when we may think we are. For all the people, things and tasks that go into supporting us, we are also simultaneously part of many similar webs that support others. The obligation is on us to think about, to acknowledge, to connect to all those people and things that make our life possible – in whatever form we may choose to live it. We will always give attention to living our individual life. But it is only when we live a life connected to all things that we can experience God’s life – the life we are intended to follow.

We are each singular; we are all plural. Interconnected with all things – human, non-human, inanimate. Like the pebble thrown into the lake, the ever-expanding ripple effects of my life ultimately reach far beyond that which I can see. I am one; I am all. The whole of the Universe can be found in a simple slice of toast.

“How are we?”
—Bishop Desmond Tutu, from traditional African greeting of Connection

©   2019   Randy Bell             https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 22, 2019

A Lifetime Of Change

My great aunt, Bertie Ardelle Lee, was born in 1880. She died in 1974, having lived a full life of 94 years. Over the years, I have often thought about what her lifetime encompassed, the vastly different experiences she encountered, and the extraordinary changes that occurred in America and the world – all bookended by the dates on her tombstone.

She was born into an era of Conestoga wagons and horse-drawn buggies, and sailboats and paddlewheel ships. The railroad had only recently connected the two coasts, bringing a new option for travelers and the distribution of agricultural and manufactured goods. Combined with the telegraph wires running alongside the train tracks, intra-national communication could now be accomplished in days, rather than months.

In Aunt Bertie’s childhood years, the telephone would arrive, allowing real-time conversation across ever-increasing distances. As a young married woman, she heard about human beings flying in the air, and watched silent movies (“flickers”) in awe. As a fulltime mom, she sat in her living room listening to the squeaking sounds of news and entertainment out of a box they called a “radio,” or scratchy music playing on “the Victrola.”  Electric lights replaced the flames of candlelight and the dangerous gas and oil lamps; automobiles replaced horse-drawn wagons, thereby displacing most blacksmiths and wagon-manufacturers.

In her middle through late ages, she lived through the prosperity and excesses of the Jazz Age, the economic collapse and poverty of the Great Depression, followed by the greatest expansion of middle-class economic growth and distributed prosperity due to the post-WWII boom recovery. The big changes of her early life moved into their 2nd- and 3rd-generation product cycle: silent movies became “talkies”; expanded automobile ownership led to new roads crisscrossing the nation; rotary dialing phones replaced switchboard operators. Television almost bankrupted the radio and movie industries. Air travel – begun 20 years after her birth – went from novelty solo flights into airlines moving passengers great distances in short timelines; five years before her death, two men landed on the moon. Over the course of her life, she also lived through five American wars.

Perhaps the biggest and most affecting change for Aunt Bertie came in the arena of social change, and the push to expand true civil rights and equality for all. Born in northern Alabama, the daughter of a Confederate Civil War veteran, surrounded by a post-Reconstruction / Jim Crow segregated culture and legal system, she was steeped in the ways of the Old South. As a young bride, she moved to western Arkansas with its familiar system of African-American segregation in schools, housing, public accommodations and services, along with limited voting and legal rights. She became a local leader of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, an organization dedicated to preserving “the old ways” and glorifying “the Lost Cause.” I had left my hometown by the time the various civil rights movements (e.g. African-Americans, women, gays) exploded into the nation’s consciousness in the 1960s, so I never had an opportunity to talk with her about whether she had moved away from her cultural heritage. Besides, these were not conversations that one tended to have in family social gatherings – Jim Crow being nurtured by a conspiracy of silence. Regardless of what her thinking might have come to be, I suspect that an African-American being elected President 35 years after her death would have been beyond her capacity to even envision, much less comprehend.

I have written often about constant change being an inherent and unavoidable aspect of the human story. Little today is what it was yesterday, nor what it will be tomorrow. The only substantive discussion is how different the change will be, and how prepared one will be to respond to it. Some changes are self-initiated by an intent to alter the specifics of our life and to proactively move toward those alterations. Others are brought on by outside agents of change: nature, social convention, the aging process, cultural movements, decision-makers, or the spiritual Universe. Some change happens due to our being part of a larger group; others are personal to us individually. Whether sourced internally or externally, our reactions can be either positive and welcoming, or negative and defensive, yet are often fearful when anticipating as yet unknown outcomes. At times we simply dig in our heels and adopt a “stand pat” posture – a bulwark of resistance to the impending change – either because we disagree with the change calling to us, or this latest change is just one too many to take on.

I have seen many changes during my lifetime. But my changes pale in comparison to what Aunt Bertie experienced. From Conestogas to the moon, the world she was born into seems irreconcilable with the one she left behind a lifetime later. The reality is that each living thing, and all civilizations, move over time. The lifestyle, cultural environments, and beliefs we are so enamored with today will virtually disappear within a few short generations, so we should not unduly be held captive by them. Our changes can be cumulatively dramatic; some prove to be minor blips. Prioritizing the changes we take on; letting the little ones go by; keeping our life structures flexible and adaptable; remembering that all life is fleeting. These are tools that help us steady the boat as we navigate the windstorms of our life Changes. This fundamental movement of Change is simply the inherent way of things. So at any given moment, towards what will we choose to redirect our life?

©   2019   Randy Bell             https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Of Toothbrushes And Toothpaste

The news from America’s southern border continues to go from bad to worse. After all the efforts yielding minimal results over the past two years, now it is the children – infants through grade schoolers – living in 3rd-world squalor without basic sanitary provisions, sleeping on concrete floors. Many hundreds of kids locked up in cages, sequestered in an out-of-the-way facility designed for a fraction of that number, its contents kept secret.

I fully accept that rational rules and processes should be in place to regulate admission into this country. I also believe that our obligation is to use those rules and processes to facilitate how many immigrants we are able to bring in, not use them as a barrier to keeping people out. This posture is in the spirit of the ancestors of each of us who immigrated into this country from across the world, seeking the better life and opportunities that America has always stood for – albeit an ideal not always practiced in fact. Though I continue to have hope that long in the future our aspirations for a world free of fear and filled with compassion for one another may be fulfilled, I also accept that, in today’s world, adult human beings are still capable of inflicting the most monstrous injustices and pain among one another.

But infant and growing children have no inherent predisposition towards inflicting injustice and pain. Yet they are all too often on the receiving end of such. Regardless of the decisions their parents may have made; regardless of whether we agree or disagree with such things as a “family separation policy”; these children have become the innocent pawns in an unconscionable adult immorality play. If this kind of childhood suffering was the result of some weather disaster or other emergency, FEMA, the Red Cross, religious organizations, charity groups, and other “ad hoc do-gooders” would be all over these victims, calling attention to their plight while bringing aid, comfort and needed supplies. Instead, these groups are nowhere to be seen. Our government claims “there is no money to cover these needs.” Yet boxes of donated goods sit unopened at border gates, while government attorneys awkwardly try to convince a skeptical panel of federal judges that toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap and a bath, and clean clothing are not really required for children.

This situation is beyond malicious. It is cruel and inhumane treatment towards a group of human beings unable to speak for, or defend, themselves. We can let the adults continue to act out their political stagecraft and carry on their interminable intellectual debates and speak their untruths. But let every American parent take responsibility for the care of the children that have been entrusted to our care – regardless of how they got here.

This is not an argument about immigration. These actions are a moral argument, a challenge to the truth (or not) of our professed national character and our personal religious values that admonish us to “care for the children and the orphans.” Whatever our political fights, taking it out on the babies is indefensible. For those who say they are committed to the right of each child to be born, Part 2 of that commitment is ensuring that each child is then protected, nourished, and developed regardless of his/her circumstances or nationality.

Yesterday I mailed an envelope with a copy of this essay, along with a small toothbrush and tube of toothpaste, to the President of the United States. That envelope and its contents will not solve this travesty. But if that envelope should make it through the mail check process (questionable), maybe someone will notice and care. Maybe some White House aide will send it along to some scared, lonely, bewildered kid who needs it. Because we are better than this. Better than the decisions we are making. The collective heart of the American people is, and has always been, far better than this.

©   2019   Randy Bell               https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com