March 22, 2016
I want to share some thoughts about my seeing
Joan Baez in concert last weekend and going to the Civil Rights Institute
in Birmingham, AL. I walked through the museum and viewed a lot of
artifacts, pictures, and videos from Twentieth Century, and most, including the
“White” and “Negro” water fountains, were from a time that I remember.
The atmosphere at this museum is different from
the atmosphere I’ve seen at many museums. Parents weren’t talking with their
children and explaining things to them. Children weren’t running around
grabbing their parents to show them something they found interesting. It was
pretty somber, actually….people reading and standing, often silently. I
had a lump in my throat from the time I set foot in the building, and I shed
some tears along the way.
When I got to this exhibit in a glass case
(pictured here), in a room almost to itself, I saw this overpowering image
staring at me through the glass. I suspect they purposely presented this
the way they did. It was one of the most powerful visuals I’ve ever seen. It
took my breath away, and tears ran down my cheeks.
This KKK robe……this symbol of hatred is a very
powerful visual indeed. The hatred we are experiencing in our society right now
goes beyond White vs Black. It goes beyond male vs female. It goes beyond
Christian vs Jew, Christian vs Muslim, Christian vs…..well anyone who’s not
Christian. This is not just about heterosexual vs lesbian and gay. It’s
not just about cisgender vs transgender. This is not just about rich vs
poor. This is an overwhelming and insidious cancer that is permeating our
society and the souls of its individuals.
Some people say Trump scares them. Some
people say Hillary and/or Bernie scare them. They don’t scare me.
It’s the growing hatred that scares me. The way we treat each other at
times is unconscionable. What’s it going to take for us to right this
listing ship? We aren’t broken. We are damaged. We are
hurt. And it’s going to take all of us, working together, to heal
At the concert, Joan Baez talked about
politics. It’s Joan Baez! Of course she talked about
politics! She made the comment that “criticizing Trump is
“riskless.” I think in many arenas, Facebook for one, it’s also
“riskless” for people to mercilessly criticize Hillary and Bernie and whoever
they choose to criticize, including their lifelong friends. It’s amazing
and actually quite offensive to read some of the comments that are posted on
Facebook these days.
But this is not just about politics. It’s
about humanity, in general. The way people talk to each other and about
each other is really scaring me. One of my daughters said she was at a
baseball game the other day, and some of the fans of the opposing team were
being quite nasty to them and saying some pretty rude things….to their
face. People cut each other off on the roads, without a thought.
People are quick to carry guns, so they can “protect themselves.” Protect
themselves……from what? They’re “protecting themselves” from the hatred
that is growing in our society. Violence, or the threat of violence, is
not the answer. There aren’t enough guns to end this. Laying down our
guns (metaphorically speaking) is at least part of the answer. If we want
to end the hatred coming toward us, we must end the hatred within ourselves.
Joan Baez protested the Vietnam war and championed
civil rights. Regardless of whether you agree with her politics or not
(Please read about her politics before you judge. She has been a peace activist
who has approached a variety of different groups, in an attempt to promote a
peaceful coexistence.), she has made a huge difference in the lives of
many. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made a huge difference. Rosa
Parks, among many other amazing and strong African American women, made a huge
difference. Bobby Kennedy made a huge difference. The Suffragettes made a
huge difference. Gandhi made a huge difference. Mother Teresa made a huge
difference. The list goes on and on.
We CAN help make a different world. We don't
have to be a Gandhi. We just have to do what we can, in our own way, to
help make a different world.
My almost 91 year-old father said the other
night that he is on his way out. He said he’s not going to live to see
how bad it gets, but he worries for his children, grandchildren, and great
We don’t have to worry. We CAN change the
“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I
say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of
today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the
American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will
riseup and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be
self-evident, that all men (*and women*) are created equal.’”
Martin Luther King, Jr. August 28, 1963
We are more alike than different, and we can do
better than this. We know how to get along. But it will take
“laying down our (metaphoric) guns” and opening our hearts and minds to others.
Several years ago, I was affiliated with an organization, Creating a Culture of
Peace. This kind of says it all. Let’s start creating and fostering a culture
of peace. Please.
"Let there be peace on Earth, and let it
begin with me."