When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done? Yes, I’ve already said more than enough.
What does the world need less of? ignorance
Do you feel older or younger than your age? Younger in my mind, about my age physically
What is a cause you’ll always passionately support? There are several but the most important is Sustainability (Environmental responsibility) & Climate Change and everything connected with that: reducing waste, cleaning up the oceans, pollution, renewable energy, recycling, conservation of public lands, saving species from extinction, etc.
Others include economic and racial justice, women’s reproductive health, gun control, voting rights, improving education. I am passionate about a lot of things!!
GRATITUDE SECTION (as always, optional)
What is your personal affirmation if you have one? (for this instance “affirmation means emotional support or encouragement.” )
Fandango has an interesting and relevant question for us this week; in fact, the issue has been on my mind the last several days. Fandango prefaces the question as follows:
It seems to me that there are a lot of things to worry about these days. Whether we’re talking about the climate, politics, the seemingly never ending pandemic, natural disasters, social injustice, mass shootings, cultural clashes, or wars, the news is rarely good. I have almost gotten to the point that I’m considering stopping reading or watching the news because I find it both disheartening and depressing.
So with this in mind, my provocative question this week is this…
What worries you the most about the future? Why is that your biggest concern? Or are you not that concerned about the future?
Last week, I was on the verge of tears, watching a news piece about voting restriction laws that are being passed in various states around the country. If these laws are allowed to take effect, the Republicans in Texas, Georgia, and elsewhere will be able to overturn election results that they don’t like, by removing election officials and installing others of their choosing. This has come about as the “Big Lie” has not been allowed to die – there are still Trumpian politicians who have convinced a large minority of people that the Democrats corrupted the election and that Trump, in fact, had won, not Joe Biden. I believe these politicians are fully aware that there was no fraud and that Biden is the legitimate president, but they continue to fuel this lie for their own interests. It occurred to me, as I watched Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, that if they get away with it, they will destroy what is left of our democracy. The Republicans, under these laws, will have the advantage over the majority, and will control the election results, in their favor. They know they cannot win elections unless they cheat – the victory of the Democrats in the 2020 election and the special Senate election in Georgia, in which two Democrats ran close races against Republican challengers, and won, flipping Georgia – always a Republican stronghold – to “blue.” The Georgia GOP has its greedy eyes on Fulton County, where Atlanta is located, and has already removed its top election official. It is really scary.
Then this week, climate scientists put out a report on the status of climate change: it is no longer a threat, it is a reality now. A 4,000 page report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which includes work by 234 authors who are experts in climate science, and roughly 14,000 citations to existing scientific studies, is the most comprehensive look at climate change and unequivocal in its pronouncements. The Washington Post, on August 10, published a review of this report. The Post cited five major quotes from the report:
‘It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.‘
‘The last decade was more likely than not warmer than any multi-centennial period after the Last Interglacial, roughly 125,000 years ago.‘
‘Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe.’
‘With further global warming, every region is projected to increasingly experience concurrent and multiple changes in climatic impact-drivers.’
‘Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.’
Although the Biden administration has pledged to finally do something to mitigate climate change, and the Democrats’ large infrastructure bill includes attention to climate change especially in the manufacture of electric cars, it will unlikely be enough. Other countries have also pledged to make drastic modifications to their energy infrastructures, but so far, there has been way too little change. I understand – industries are reluctant to make the kind of changes that they fear will impact their bottom line, especially since the investment in making the changes will have to be done long before measurable results (as well as their profits) will equal these efforts. And U.S. politics have always focused on short-term (about the length of politicians’ time in office) fixes for short-term results. To really make the kind of changes that will lead to meaningful benefits to society at large, politicians need to become far more altruistic in their vision for the future.
It’s time to stop finger-pointing at other countries (such as China and Russia) who are big polluters but have not committed to major changes. We need to get to work on this “yesterday, if not sooner” (as a former boss of mine liked to say) and encourage others to follow us.
What more real-life proof do we need that the situation is dire than massive out-of-control fires burning in so many areas of the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere? Half of one of the largest islands of Greece, Evia, a major tourist destination, is being decimated by wildfires. Even the Big Island of Hawaii is combatting fires. What about the “heat domes” that have settled for weeks over places that have never dealt with such hot temperatures? Portland, Oregon, reached 116 degrees Fahrenheit, and even Death Valley is hotter than ever, with reported temperatures of 134 F! Two years ago, people died from the heat in Paris, France, which saw unprecedented temperatures of 109 deg. F, in a country where few residents have ever felt the need to invest in air conditioning their homes.
In its conclusion the, WP article says, Even if current emissions pledges are realized, they would amount to just a 1 percent reduction in global emissions by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. Scientists say the number needs to be closer to a 50 percent reduction.
What can we do RIGHT NOW?
We already have the technology to hook residences and businesses up to energy created by wind farms. I have received phone calls offering a great deal on putting solar panels on the roof of my home and switching my residence to 100% solar & wind power. If this kinds of things are being done already on a small scale, why not expand it to include entire cities, states, and yes, even whole countries?
2. Many businesses are realizing that the switch to green power is in the near future, and are getting on board. They have understood that they will not lose all their profit from fossil fuels, because there is plenty of money to be made embracing the new energy technologies. And LOTS OF JOBS will be created! Committing to green energy can vitalize the entire economy! That’s what the much-criticized “Green New Deal” is about.
3. Yesterday, on BBC World News on the radio, there was a discussion regarding methane, the second largest cause of global warming. The first thing that comes to mind when I heard the word ‘methane’ is cows. Cows and pigs. Their farts and manure are culprits, made worse by feeding the cows a diet mostly comprised of corn, which is not in the bovine’s natural diet and which its gut has a hard time processing. Waste in landfills also emits a great deal of methane. The BBC report indicated that methane is a more short-term problem that can be dealt with. While CO2 emissions are, of course, vital to deal with, the ways to lower methane can show more short-term results which would benefit not only the planet as a whole, but also humans in every sector. (It sure would smell a lot nicer too!)
I looked up the BBC report online and found it, referencing more findings in the IPCC report. “An aggressive campaign to cut methane emissions can buy the world extra time to tackle climate change, experts say.” The BBC online article goes on to make the following points.
“One of the key findings in the newly released IPCC report is that emissions of methane have made a huge contribution to current warming.
The study suggested that 30-50% of the current rise in temperatures is down to this powerful, but short-lived gas.
Major sources of methane include agriculture, and leaks from oil and gas production and landfills.”
One of President Biden’s goals is to totally convert our automobile industry to electric power by 2035. But we don’t have that long to wait for many major changes to be made. Like Greta Thunberg, I am depressed that there may not be the human will to think long-term. Yet this planet is the only home that humans and other organisms have!
Are justice and the law necessarily the same thing?
No. Laws are the rules we live by and justice is treating everyone fairly according to the law. Example: Marijuana possession has been made legal in many states, but before that happened, black people were more likely to be convicted and go to prison than whites. Even today, prisons are crowded with people of color, especially blacks, disproportionally according to their population. George Floyd died because of some petty charge about using a counterfeit $20 bill; then the police arrived and used bodily force even though he posed no threat to them. Even if George Floyd had had a record, there was no justification for what the police did. I can’t see that happening to white people. My son was once caught with weed paraphernalia and taken to a local police station. The police then called us to come and post bail. We did and he was freed. Later, the bail was reimbursed. Trayvon Martin was killed by a white wannabe cop and his killer was acquitted in the state of Florida. It’s clear that in this country, there is still less justice for people of color.
Which kitchen appliance do you use every day?
The refrigerator and the microwave oven. My husband uses the grind and brew coffee maker every day, but I can no longer drink coffee.
What is one thing you’ll never do again? Get pregnant and have another child. I’m way too old!
What event escalated very quickly?
The Trump rally on January 6 that ended up as a insurrection and assault on our nation’s Capitol, during which rioters smashed windows, destroyed property, and killed a policeman. Five people died that day. What did Trump do? He dragged his feet on calling on the National Guard to help restore order, so in spite of pleas for help from lawmakers inside the building, no back-up arrived.
GRATITUDE (As always, optional)
Feel free to share something that made you feel good from the past week!
People have admired my artwork and one person even offered to buy one of my drawings of a cat. I wasn’t there at the time, but probably would have sold it. The circumstances don’t matter; I am just happy that people have been very encouraging about my artwork, and that is a great motivation to continue doing it!
What do you think of the idea of the ‘greater good’ principle? I think it is central for a just and equal society. Although we have “freedom” that doesn’t mean we can – or should – do whatever we want to. This is one of my major concerns about American society, that people confuse freedom and individuality. We have gotten so selfish and blame others – mostly the downtrodden – for our own inability to get ahead in life. There are things that living in a society compels one to do – to behave responsibility and with caring for others, whether or not those people are part of your family or social circle. Mask wearing during the pandemic was for the greater good. Some individuals would be inconvenienced by it, but overall, society will benefit – indeed, has benefited by the mask mandate.
Do you enjoy riding a roller coaster or other amusement park type ride? I’m a wimp – the Ferris wheel is as daring as I get. Many cities have these gigantic Ferris wheels nowadays; I guess they provide riders a good view from the top. London, Sydney – probably many more – saw how successful it was in the city where it was invented – Chicago!
Which musical instrument is the most annoying to you personally? There isn’t a particular instrument – it’s more the way that the instrument is played. I mean this in two ways: If the person playing the instrument isn’t very good or doesn’t have the “musicality” to play it, and the type of music or piece that is being played.
In the first instance, I would say violin or really any stringed instrument. If the person playing it isn’t very good, it sounds horrible. But I suppose that could be said about any instrument. In orchestras, there are a lot of violins – the stringed instruments are the most noticeable because the strings moat often carry the melody. I’ve been to concerts with a violin section that isn’t very good, and, in some pieces especially, it is really cringeworthy.
I have seen violins played in a variety of ways and in various types of music, and if the musician is good, it sounds fantastic. I think, however, that the violin is one of the most difficult instruments to learn well. I’m not just talking about classical music – I love ‘fiddling” and most of the fiddlers I’ve heard are real professional.
I have an eclectic taste in music; there are few genres I don’t like in general. I like jazz, but there are certain kinds of jazz that I don’t like, like when the piece gets very long with a lot of ad libbing and showcasing one instrument with lengthy solos. In these cases, it is usually the trumpet that I don’t like, because it can get very “screechy” when the musician is experimenting with it.
Would you rather have a vivid imagination or a photographic memory if you had to choose just one? I already have a vivid imagination, but I have always envied people with a “photographic memory.” My memory has always been bad, but it’s deteriorating even more now that I’m getting older. So I guess I would like to have a good memory – it would have helped a lot during my working years, and maybe twenty years from now would help me stave off dementia!
GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)
Feel free to share fun plans for this season that you might have. Especially now that many places are lifting restrictions and travel is a bit easier. I had hoped to go abroad before the end of this year, but due to my husband’s health issues, we can’t make any firm plans, so we are planning a road trip to the Northeast in October. We may cross into Canada if we have our passports by that time.
Pick three words to describe this past year. (please keep them PG. Thanks). frustrating, appalling, anger-inducing
What were the best books you read this year? Or the best movie you saw? The best books I’ve read this year are not new: I don’t normally read Stephen King, but I loved the novel 11/22/63 which I read for a book group. Other than that, I have read a lot of novels written in the 1990s set in ancient Egypt. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and right now I’m kind of obsessed with ancient Egypt. All the books written by Pauline Gedge are excellent. I also read some political books, including Mary Trump’s book about her uncle: Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. Once I’d read that I could predict how Trump would react to losing reelection – he wouldn’t and doesn’t accept it! But the best political/social non-fiction book I read this year was Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. I highly recommend it.
One of the best movies I saw was on Netflix, Social Dilemma – it’s fairly new, and I encourage everyone to see it. You’ll never look at Facebook the same way again! I don’t see too many movies, unfortunately. I saw some old ones that either I never saw before or wanted to see again such as Out of Africa (somewhat of a disappointment) and Dr. Zhivago (because I just finished the novel The Secrets We Kept about smuggling the manuscript of the novel by Boris Pasternak out of the Soviet Union). I enjoyed seeing Dr. Zhivago again, although the copy we got from the library had a lot of scratches. A lot of what I watch are news shows and videos we watch on our community broadcasting channels. Also PBS series such as Nova and Masterpiece.
Because there was lots of time for looking inward, what is one big personal lesson you learned this past year? Perseverance – the pandemic has lasted longer than perhaps it should have due to mismanagement and lack of leadership. What galls me is how people just drag it on longer by refusing to wear masks (see answer to the next question). I have persevered by accepting what is. I don’t like wearing a mask any more than anyone else; I don’t like not being able to go out with my friends; I especially don’t like not being able to travel – but it’s what we have to do to stay healthy! I’ve read a lot of books and worked on my artwork, and have tried to take a walk every day that has weather I can tolerate.
Another lesson is gratitude: being grateful for the blessings I have, appreciative of people who put their lives on the line to save others, and not taking anything for granted. I see happiness in small things: reading a good book, watching flowers bloom, and baby chicks grow. Nature continues on as usual.
Do you think Covid has strengthened or weakened societal bonds? I would love to say strengthened, and I think on an individual level, that may be true: developing or solidifying relationships, appreciating the different jobs people do that may put their lives in danger during a pandemic, and working together to solve problems. But societally, our country is even more divided. I am somewhat surprised at this. I am surprised that in spite of the federal government’s terrible handling of the pandemic, over 70 million people in this country voted to reelect Trump! Fortunately they did not prevail, but I am appalled at how people have protested the dumbest things, such as wearing masks as an infringement on their freedom. Sorry, but their freedom ends where the next person’s begins so they need to take some responsibility for their behavior and not infect other people when they leave their home! And the denial of science – there are still people who are sick with Covid, go to the hospital and when told the diagnosis, deny it and say it’s a hoax! Why don’t some people believe doctors and nurses who put their lives on the line to save others? It’s all become politicized and it didn’t have to be. Trump and his Republican lackeys politicized it, instead of helping to unify the people of this country in combatting it.
It’s really shaken my confidence in the citizenry of this nation as supporting democracy and our values, such as stewardship, responsibility, and compassion. It’s also made me fear we can no longer have a dialogue – there are alternate messages of what is truth. How can one dialogue with a person that doesn’t share the same reality?
What is a New Year’s Wish You’d Like To Share With the World?
May 2021 give us 2020 hindsight and may the new year bring us the light at the end of the tunnel!
Do you like or dislike surprises? Why or why not? It depends on what kind of surprise it is. If it’s a Christmas or birthday gift, yes, I like surprises. I like the surprise of my husband getting me flowers for Mother’s Day.
Some surprises are not fun, though…the 2016 election, for example, was a very nasty surprise – and more so because we were on an airplane during the election returns, and heard the news of Trump’s victory from a fellow passenger when we landed in São Paulo – it kind of put a damper on our vacation. Another “surprise” might be finding out that my mammogram showed a mass, or to test positive for Covid-19. Those kinds of surprises I DON’T like!
What’s your favorite zoo animal? This is a hard one for me…a few years ago I wrote a post about zoochosis, which is used to describe animals’ repetitive behaviors in captivity. For example, a leopard or a cheetah that repetitively paces the perimeter of its enclosure is suffering from zoochosis, meaning it is bored and frustrated with being cooped up. Zoos are much better these days about giving animals space and observing the animals for such behaviors, a sign that they are not healthy and intervention is needed.
In other words, my “favorite” zoo animal (animal in captivity) is difficult to name. After going on a safari in Tanzania in 2018, I resolved not to ever go to a zoo again. Of course, I’ve gotten over it and have been to zoos a few times since then.
I like the big animals, especially the big cats (or small wild cats), giraffes, and elephants. However, I prefer to see them in their native environment. Often when I’m at the zoo, these animals are asleep. When we went to the San Diego Zoo in 2017, I wanted to see the koalas, because the Chicago zoos don’t have koalas, or at least you can’t see them close up. At the San Diego Zoo, there’s a platform so you can see the koalas right in front of you while they are up in a eucalyptus tree – that is, in fact, where they spend most of their time. Seeing them close up was quite a treat! I also like to watch the monkeys – they don’t seem to be bothered with their artificial environment and it’s fun to observe their antics!
What three things do you think of the most each day? What I’m going to do that day, what I’m going to eat that day, and what the weather is like – i.e. can I go out for a walk or read sitting on the porch? (I have such a hard life – can’t you tell?? ;-D )
Because of Covid-19, we select what we want to eat from a weekly menu and it gets delivered to our house, so I have to look at what I wrote down that I’m having for dinner that day. Knowing what I chose for dinner that day helps me decide what to eat for lunch.
Some days I just want to spend a lot of time reading, while other days I prefer to work on a photo book on Shutterfly or blog. Sometimes I’m in the mood for watching something on TV. I think a lot about being organized and putting my scheduled activities in my calendar because I often forget something and plan something else for the same time.
4. When, if ever, is taking a human life justified? In self-defense (when one’s life or loved one’s life is threatened) – this may seem broad, because some people consider “threatened” to be when someone walks on their lawn or comes up to their house and rings the doorbell. I do not think it is justified in such circumstances. In the last several months, police brutality toward Black people has been in the forefront of people’s minds, because of the unnecessary deaths of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor, among others. These cops were not being threatened. They just abused their power and should be prosecuted.
Sometimes a person may feel threatened due to past circumstances, such as a woman whose husband has been abusive toward her or her children, and it is understandable (though not laudable) that she would seize an opportunity to kill him, even if he weren’t threatening her at that particular moment.
Also, it is somewhat justified to kill during wars, but not civilians and not even some wars which are completely unnecessary. World War II was a justified war with a clear enemy that invaded other nations’ sovereignty. During the Vietnam War, there were some incidents that the media brought our attention to, of massacres of civilians and burning their towns, such as the My Lai massacre. This is only one example of atrocities committed during wars, which are not justified under any circumstances.
If one considers abortion the “taking of a human life” – which is controversial – then I also think it is justified according to a woman’s particular circumstances, which range from being unable to raise the child or being afraid of losing her job, to extreme cases like rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger if the pregnancy continues. I am “pro-choice” because I think it is a private matter between a woman and her doctor, and I don’t presume to judge whatever situation she is going through. That said, I do not approve of abortion if the fetus is already viable – that is, can survive outside the womb, usually the late 2nd trimester or later, UNLESS it is a threat to the life of the mother. A fetus in the early stages of development does not feel anything yet so doesn’t suffer during the abortion. That said, really I don’t like abortion at all, at least not for myself. I could never have done it – I know I would have regretted it all my life if I had. When I got pregnant, I considered it as an option but my circumstances, while not ideal, were not dire, and I knew that I really wanted to have children. So I think it is a matter of choice.
Another controversial subject: the death penalty. I am totally against it. It is a barbaric custom that belongs to the past and I am ashamed that it is legal in my supposedly modern, civilized country.
Attitude of Gratitude Section (Always Optional)
Do small miracles exist? Yes, if one sees them as “miracles.” They are the unexpected joys that people feel blessed or grateful for. I like to watch nature shows on TV, and I find it miraculous how various species have adapted to their environment – like fish living in the deep ocean who can produce their own light. I feel awe toward the wonders of nature. We are so blessed to have this beautiful planet that provides us with such bounty. Let’s not ruin it!!!
The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is the word lies. There is a lot I could write on this topic (for instance, most of what happened at the RNC these last four days). But I was just made aware of a John Oliver (I love this guy!!) show from a few weeks ago that is very relevant in the wake of the recent tragic events in Kenosha, Wisconsin and the protests and looting that have been going on all summer around the country. Why is this happening? Why is there so much racial unrest? Why are they saying black lives matter – don’t all lives matter? Everyone has an opinion, but too often their opinion is based on ignorance or downright lies.
A few weeks ago – around the time John Lewis died – John Oliver on his show Last Week Tonight talked about how Americans learn history wrong. Maybe it has gotten better, but there are still some (any is too many) white people around who say stupid stuff like, “Slavery was bad, but those people were lucky to come to a great place like America.” (Meaning being a slave here was better than living free in African societies.) Textbooks for young children dumb down history, saying things like the colonists “brought slaves with them to help with farm work and chores.”
“Washington freed his slaves” is another myth. Instead of teaching kids lies like George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and then confessed to his father, saying, “I cannot tell a lie,” why can’t we teach kids that yes, Washington was the ‘father of our country’ and he should be honored for being the first president, but he also OWNED SLAVES and he DID NOT free them when he was president (or afterward, either)! I admit, I never learned a single negative fact about Christopher Columbus or George Washington until I got to college. Why can’t students learn both the positive and the negative – i.e. the FACTS about these historical figures?
Well, don’t we need heroes? Yes, but kids, even elementary students, can understand that people can be both good and bad. Acts of heroism don’t erase the rest of a hero’s life. I’m not dissing heroes. I just think we need to be honest. And although any history teacher knows that one year in high school is not enough time to teach all of American history, we shouldn’t ignore important events that are more convenient to ignore than to teach our students. (American history should be taught for at least two years, or part of it every year.)
As a result, many Americans graduate from high school ignorant about American history (and forget about world history). We need to help students understand why racism continues to survive. We need to connect the past to the present, help our students make the connections, so they can understand what is happening now.
This is an excellent video that is worth spending the 28+ minutes to watch.
I need to say here that I do not necessarily approve of taking down statues of people like George Washington. But the idea of the so-called “cancel culture” is a topic for another post.
Hurray! It’s Monday again, the day Melanie puts out a new set of questions for Share Your World! And this week, they’re real doozies! So here goes…
What song always gets you out on the dance floor? Any catchy Latino or other dance tune, such as:
Actually, I have a whole dance workout playlist, which includes this song and many others, including songs with a good beat from Latin America, Brazil, Africa, Celtic (Ireland/Scotland), Caribbean steel pan, and more. I listen to it when I’m at the fitness center working out, and I really miss it now, because I can’t go to the fitness center to work out!
What’s your favorite sleeping position? I go to sleep and spend most of the night on my back. I use a special pillow for my neck due to a minor case of scoliosis that I inherited from my dad, and also slide a small pillow under my knees. But some time during the night, I switch pillows and sleep on my right side with the small pillow between my knees. Eventually, I go back to sleeping on my back.
If you could snap your fingers and instantly make the world better, what would you do? Of course I would do it, but I have noticed that lately my finger snap doesn’t make a snapping noise anymore – I think it’s a sign I’m getting old!! I can’t whistle very well anymore either.
Also, would I get to decide, before the finger snap, what constitutes making the world better? That would be important, since what is better in my opinion, may not be what others think. So I will list some of my requirements for the “world being better:” –clean energy used all over the world, mitigating the effects of climate change. Earth will breathe a sigh of relief, and it would save many people around the world from starvation, displacement, and war. Everyone would be invested in conserving resources. The planet would begin to heal itself and its inhabitants as well. No more extinction of precious species. –no more poverty –medicine will be advanced to be able to cure any disease or find a vaccine easily and quickly – maybe like the “healing” done on the Star Trek series, just waving a scanning-type device over the diseased part, and voila! – the person is healed!
–no one left on Earth named Trump –racism and discrimination wouldn’t exist, there would be no more war. –PEACE ON EARTH!!
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done, and why did you do it?
I don’t want to go into my most nightmarish, scary experience, which wasn’t exactly something I did – it just happened to me. So I will answer with the scariest thing I ever did voluntarily and willingly….I went ziplining in Costa Rica!!
I was with my son in Monteverde; we’d gone there for a weekend during a monthlong stay in Costa Rica. He wanted to go ziplining – we were at the place where you get geared up and listen to all the instructions and safety rules. I didn’t really want to go, but if I stayed behind, I would have to amuse myself with nothing but a small tourist shop for entertainment for about two hours, which was the approximate length of this experience. I was really scared, but I looked around at the other participants and there were several who were clearly older than me. So I started to feel ashamed of myself if I didn’t go, and if I chickened out, I would probably regret it later. Needless to say, I went.
There were a total of 14 ziplines in this course. Some were short, some were longer. It was very important to judge when to pull the rope to slow down – you wanted to do it soon enough to slow down sufficiently when you arrived at the platform. On the other hand, if you pulled the rope too early on a long line, you could end up slowing down and stopping in the middle of the line, with only your gear holding you, dangling about 200 meters above the rainforest floor! But don’t worry, we were told – there will be a guide on the other side who will signal for when to pull the rope.
That worked OK for the first three or four lines. There were a lot of tourists there speaking languages from all over the world. I soon got separated from my son, but I wasn’t worried.
Then came the line where I had an accident. I was zipping across, watching the guide on the other side to signal to me, but he was distracted by other tourists talking to him, so he didn’t signal. Should I or shouldn’t I, I wondered, panic rising. I was approaching the platform fast, too fast – I pulled the rope, but it was too late – I slammed into the metal frame of the platform. I felt searing pain in my right shin. It took a few minutes in the confusion for someone to come to my aid, because there were so many people crowded on the platform. I saw that my leg was bleeding, and rummaged through my backpack for some Kleenex. I had about two sheets of it left, which I gingerly applied to the long gash on my shin as I gasped in pain. The Kleenex didn’t do much good – it just stuck to the wound.
Finally, a guide came to my rescue. I told him I couldn’t go on, I needed to go back. He explained that that was impossible – we were in the middle of a rainforest and it was a several miles hike – uphill – to get back, and no one could be spared to accompany me. I wanted to sit in a truck, but I couldn’t do that either. He told me just to wait until he was free, and he would take me across himself. So I sat on the metal steps, while lines of gabby tourists flowed upward around me. My son had gone across the road with a couple of other young people, who had found a “Tarzan rope” – he called for me to come and see. I answered that I was seriously injured and could barely walk (this was exaggeration, which I tend to use when I get injured), so I couldn’t go see. He didn’t answer, and it wasn’t until he returned that he realized what had happened to me.
After what seemed like half an hour, the guide who was going to take me across came over and helped me up. He hooked himself and me together and off we went. He had introduced himself as Rafael, and started telling me facts about the rainforest – such as how far above the forest floor we were! He said I could look down into the canopy and spy monkeys or birds. (LOOK DOWN??? No way, Jose – I mean Rafael!). We arrived safely and gently at the next stop and he helped me down. I waited for him again, and once again I was in the arms of Rafael zipping above the green canopy. Even having him with me, I was too scared to look down. So I saw none of the wildlife advertised as being able to spot during this activity.
At the third stop after the accident, I waited a long time and realized that Rafael was no longer there. He’d forgotten me or perhaps thought I should be OK to go by myself. I protested and another guide took me across the next line. However, after that I was on my own.
Finally, mercifully, it was over. I even got a snapshot of my son zipping to the ground on the last stop. We then had about a quarter mile to walk to the waiting jeeps to take us back. I limped along, a nice guide holding my elbow. Although there was blood dripping down my leg and staining my sandal, he asked me if I had fun. I just laughed – I refused to be a whiny American tourist. Instead, I said something to him in Spanish and we conversed in Spanish the rest of the way back.
AN INJUSTICE ANYWHERE THREATENS JUSTICE EVERYWHERE.
This paraphrases a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. The meaning hasn’t changed – I have just reduced it to six words to qualify for the Six Word Saturday challenge hosted by Debbie Smyth’s Travel With Intent.
We talk so much in the U.S.A. about freedom. Freedom is sort of our motto; it’s a word used casually without thinking too much about it. But what is freedom, really? Yes, there are the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. But without justice, what is freedom?
The Pledge of Allegiance we all learn in elementary school ends with the phrase with liberty and justice for all. (Also six words, btw. 🙂 )
Perhaps we need to focus on justice instead of freedom. Because justice includes freedom – justice allows the judged to be as free as anyone else in society. And without justice, one is not really free. Think about it: A law is passed giving everyone 18 and over the right to vote, regardless of gender, race, creed, etc. Yet when a certain group of people is denied the right to vote by voter suppression methods, then that group in reality doesn’t have the right to have their voice heard through voting. This was a problem in the Jim Crow South when blacks were obliged to take a test or pay a tax when they went to register to vote. Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 put a stop to that, officials in some states have lately found new ways to deny the vote to certain groups. Sure, a lawsuit can be filed, but it may not go into effect in time for people to vote. During a pandemic, do citizens really have the freedom, the right, to vote if they must do it in person instead of by mail?
I got to thinking about this while reading an Op Ed in our local newspaper, The Daily Herald. Quoting the writer of this editorial, Keith Peterson*: “in many countries the term freedom did not resonate in the ways that it does in American hearts. More often than not, the word that resonated was justice.” Justice is about setting to right a history of wrongs.
Today there was a news item that Donald Trump, through executive order, has modified an Obama-era health care law by excluding transgender people from the guarantee of health care. In other words, if a transgender person goes to the ER, the medical staff does not have to give that person treatment. A transgender person then has the right to sue the hospital or doctor for refusal of health care, but how practical is that when the person needs immediate medical treatment? (By the way, today is the anniversary of the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre and this month is LGBTQ Pride Month. I do not think Trump’s action on this particular day was an accident.)
Some people would like to ban Muslims from this country or have defaced or vandalized local mosques. The worshippers of those mosques are afraid of violence against them because of epithets written on a wall of their mosque. Where is their freedom to worship? It depends on litigation and prosecution – in other words, justice.
The protests against police brutality in the last two weeks all over the U.S.A. and all over the world have had an impact: many cities are already rethinking the organization and training of their police forces.
Justice sometimes takes time, lots of time. But we must demand it. Freedom and equality depend on it.
*Keith Peterson lives in Lake Barrington, Illinois. He served 29 years as a press and cultural officer for the United States Information Agency and Department of State. Quote taken from Keith Peterson, “World is watching us for justice” in Daily Herald (Northwest Suburban Edition), June 7, 2020, p. 12 sec. 1.
Fandango’s One Word Challenge this week is the topic of risk.
Risk taking is a major consideration these days. With a coronavirus pandemic still raging, while the federal government chooses to ignore its continuation and many states “opening” – opening beaches, restaurants, other places where people gather in close quarters. Of course, one can take precautions to avoid the risk of being infected. But what if something is too important to stay at home and do nothing? When yet another black person was unnecessarily killed by the police, people all over the world took the risk of being in close contact with others to protest. And the protests, being so large and widespread, led many cities to reexamine their police departments to initiate radical reforms. So in this case, for those thousands of protesters, the risk was worth it. We may see a spike in Covid-19 cases within the next week or so that could be traced to the protests. Some of the people who marched and carried signs, even with masks on, may have contracted the virus, and some may die.
To risk one’s life for a cause – that was the choice these past two weeks. It is not a new phenomenon: people have risked their lives for causes they believed in throughout history. Those who work as doctors or nurses in hospitals overflowing with coronavirus cases without proper PPE risk their lives at work every day. Those who hid Jews or joined the resistance movements during the Nazi era in Europe risked their lives. The men and women who fight in wars risk their lives. Those who protested the disappearance of loved ones during the dictatorships in Latin America risked their lives. Young people in China in June, 1989 risked their lives by protesting in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Refugees risk their lives crossing borders to flee war or persecution, travel in dangerous circumstances, and when they get to what they hope is a safe haven, there is the risk they will be sent back to their countries to certain death.
Yet courageous people continue to risk their lives in some way every day.