Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Respect and Responsibility

Saturday morning, I walked to the post office – a five mile round trip from my house. When I set out, I was in high spirits. That changed when I reached the river bank bike path near the Owosso Bridge.

Vandals had spray-painted every sign and the path as well. Such a disrespectful display of ignorance! I wanted to shake the culprits.

I tried to report the vandalism to the parks department, but they want me to make a police report. I can’t be the first who noticed. Do they need my name, birthday and driver’s license number for something like this?

But those juvenile actions are only a symptom of the general disrespect in our society today.

I’m dismayed that our political process has descended to name-calling and hatefulness. I’m terrified that Trump is the incarnation of Hitler. I’m appalled that Sanders did not rebuke his supporters for their violent actions at the Nevada convention. I’m offended that Hillary couldn’t even make an appearance in Oregon before the primary.

For a brief moment, I considered stopping my paper and ignoring the news until December.

Then I remembered. In the 1930s, decent Germans ignored or hid from reality. They went about their daily lives, oblivious to the fires of hell burning around them.

Yet what can we do? Our country is not – never has been – a true democracy. What I would like to see is a new electoral process. Institute a nation-wide presidential primary, preferably in late spring or early summer. Eliminate the Electoral College and make every vote count, whether in New Hampshire or Oregon.

Probably not going to happen. Still, I have to stand up for my beliefs. If that means filling out a police report, I gotta do it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Going to Pot

I glanced at the front page headline: Growing concern.

“Not another story about pot!” I fumed.

I slapped the paper on the table and busied myself with breakfast.

For the last week, our paper had been full of stories about marijuana – producing it, cooking it, eating it – along with smaller articles on licensing to sell it. Two recent front page headlines about the business of recreational pot:
Scent of opportunity for commercial pot
Budding business draws restaurants

I was sick of it.

So I had to laugh when I sat down and really looked at the article. It was a story about overcrowded elementary school classrooms.

But why chose that headline?

Still, recreational marijuana worries me. Will the children in those crowded classrooms grow up to believe any discomfort must be removed immediately? I mean, life has bumps, from skinned knees and bruises to heartbreak and death. Maturity involves learning to cope rather than escape those painful experiences.

I grew up believing pot was dangerous - it took you directly to heroin!

And I came of age just as the Vietnam war began, graduating from high school in 1961, college in 1965. Boys I knew went to war. JFK was assassinated. Oswald was murdered while TV cameras rolled.

In 1968, after Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy were gunned down, my husband and I left for a year of study in Chile. Our departure coincided with the melee at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. We didn’t bother to get absentee ballots. We weren’t sure we’d come back.

When we returned in 1969, Allende hadn’t been elected yet. We knew he would be and were pleased when he was.

By then, the Vietnam conflict had grown. My husband’s brother, Danny, dropped out of school and enlisted in the army. He said they’d promised to send him to Germany, not Vietnam. When orders for ‘Nam came, Danny went AWOL.

He never went to Vietnam, somehow gaining a hardship discharge. Then, a year later, he died in a traffic accident, leaving his widow with a toddler and a baby not yet born.

And in Chile, on September 11, 1973, Salvador Allende died in a military coup. General Pinochet established a violent military dictatorship in what had been a democratic nation.

We stumbled back from Vietnam, recaptured some optimism, continued on. Only later did we learn our government’s role in Chile. Thankfully, both Chile and Vietnam eventually recovered from our interference.

Then came September 11, 2001. We plunged in again, ignoring painful lessons from our recent past. We’re up to our boot tops in the muck we’ve generated.

Now, the 2016 Presidential campaigns have the home waters roiling with disrespect and bluster. Everyone’s angry. Everyone’s scared.

We need to mellow out.

Oh, oh! That phrase from the 70s!

Going to pot – is that the solution?