Progressive Liberals, Are We Really THAT Naive…?

With all of the events of the past two weeks, both good and bad, social media has exploded with both liberals and conservatives voicing their opinions about the state of our nation. I often wonder what happens to shape a person’s belief system. Some point to education and upbringing, which are likely great factors in how we develop as a person. But, I feel that there also has to be some inherent personality traits for one to become either liberal or conservative. And perhaps naivete is part of being a liberal.

For me, I went from voting for Ronald Reagan in 1984 to a flaming liberal in quite a short time after that. Why? On the Reagan voting it was simple. I bought into the ideology that he would keep us safer than the alternative. It wasn’t until I realized that we weren’t likely to have a nuke fall in our laps if our enemies wanted to live to see the 21st century that I began to question this real need conservatives have to feed on fear. Either their own or somebody else’s.

On becoming a flaming liberal, or libtard as some of the more vocal Libertarian and conservative “friends” like to call me, it’s more complicated. I had had a daughter at a very young age, was in a situation with her father that wasn’t always pleasant, and found myself at odds with teaching her to fear the world, or to hate, or to believe herself superior. She, as are all three of my children, is incredibly smart and able to think on her own, but I wanted to have some influence over her happy childhood, if I could. And to teach her that the world was a cold, scary place was never in the cards.

And the semi-conservative place I was in was far scarier than the more optimistic place I found myself as a liberal.

I find it really funny when a conservative says liberals are the true racists, or that we are so pessimistic. How ironic. I don’t own a gun because I need to protect my property or I fear being raped or murdered. I believe in the goodness of most people and refuse to fear the minority of criminals who might, someday rush into my house to steal my crap. They can have my crap, it’s not at all important. Not at all.

Is the incredibly naive? Possibly. But I’m pretty happy with that.

What I am not happy about is what I fear is becoming a common theme within the liberal community. We get focused on an aspect of some cause and forget what actually is really important. These past two weeks have shown that our country can make great progress, that people can unite and create a beautiful society, if we try. But it has also shown us that we can still be an ugly, hate-filled place, one that still burns churches and calls upon death for those who are not the same as us. Progressives certainly scored a victory with the legalization of same sex marriage, the ACA being upheld, and the possible beginning of the derailment of gerrymandering (possibly the most important SCOTUS decision of the three). Yet, we also focused on symbolism that, while representing hatred, slavery, oppression, abuse, was just that. A symbol.

We got distracted. And it played into hateful people’s disgusting little hands. Taking down the Confederate Flag from government buildings is important. It’s unbelievable that it hasn’t happened sooner, but in truth, it solves nothing. I completely understand that it makes people feel better, and I wholeheartedly agree that it’s a symbol of hatred that needs to be away from anything related to public properties. But it isn’t going to change the truly twisted who kill nine people in church, or the churches that are burning, or even the fact that the weapon of destruction is so soundly defended in our nation that you can’t even be for some reforms without heads exploding and memes about Islam popping up all over the internet.

The real problem has been swept under the rug. And the conservatives who want to continue to ignore that we have exponentially more gun deaths in this “civilized nation” than any other country. Study after study after study had shown that the United States has a gun problem. Yet that has not even been discussed after Roof slaughtered the innocent other than a few Facebook memes and those few who are continually appalled at this state of affairs.

Certainly, the powers that be, beyond commentary from the usual suspects, have said pretty much nothing.

The Confederate Flag controversy must have seemed like manna from Heaven. Look, see what we politicians can do!!!! We can remove this racist symbol like we should have supported doing decades ago!!!

While the real issue gets ignored until it happens again. And it will.

Are we progressive liberals that naive? Do we really believe that taking away a symbol will change hatred? Change an inherent ideology based on the construction of black people, or gay people, or atheists, or Jews, or people of Islam as inferior, stupid, killers, or an abomination? An ideology that tells whites that they are superior and somehow deserve a place above every other citizen of Planet Earth looks pretty good when you are filled with fear that somehow someone else is getting something you are not. And when you have an entire half of your political system pushing that agenda, some conservatives feel vindicated.

I want to make it clear that I do not support the Confederate Flag at all. I believe it brings emotions for black Americans that as a white woman I can only peripherally understand. I understand that it has long been a calling card for those most hateful toward blacks, for those that still think they are fighting a war that they lost over a hundred years ago, and a symbol of the racist who truly believes that they are justified in their hatred. It evokes fear, death, torture and rape. Further, it has no place in our government buildings. Those who feel this is a Free Speech issue are free to hang it in their houses, wear it on their person, or use it as their profile picture on Facebook or where ever they’d like. But not in our government, which has its own problems with race and ideology.

But we lost the plot.

The issue is not just the flag, or even the guns. It’s the continued atmosphere that by somehow embracing all people whether they are black, Mexican, gay, women, Christian, Buddhist, whatever, we are destroying the nation. That the melting pot only counts if you are of European and Christian descent. That everyone else is BAD, so bad that they’ll kill you in your bed, or rape your daughters, or destroy the morality of your neighbors. It’s fear. Fear that permeates our country and manifests itself insidiously, creating the worst of us instead of the best of us.

Much has been discussed about how to change these ideas. Education only works if the student is engaged in learning the lesson, but it is paramount that education plays a part in those changes. Unfortunately, even in this those who understand and have studied history are foiled as states such as Texas have altered history to suit their needs. We have to fight against the ignorance and become engaged ourselves.

Can we change one’s upbringing? I think so, yes. Gently, then insistently, then perhaps with a lot of discussion. Open your heart to those that are hateful, let them know you are not. Exposure means a lot. I’ve discussed a great deal how playing sports granted me the privilege of playing with girls who were not white. I loved them as much. or disliked them as much, as my white friends. Never be afraid to disagree, and be honest. If you’re angry, say so.  If you’rs disappointed, say so.

And we cannot continue to be swayed by small, symbolic victories. And we can’t lose faith that the greater good will win out.

Maybe we liberal progressives are that naive. Maybe we thought that tearing down a symbol would tear down walls and that people would understand that the flag was painful to look at and caused abject fear for black Americans. Perhaps we’re naive in thinking that the United States has the capacity to actually be the best country in the world instead of that just being a catch phrase. And when our hopefulness that the Supreme Court recognizing that the LGBT community deserves dignity and love as much as the straight community that overwhelmingly outnumbers them was shattered by taunts, anger, and pure hatred, we still fought on. We still discuss.

We still hope.

And if that’s naive, I’d rather be there than in fear of everything.

Family Histories: What Grows From Family Narrative (Part 1)

Family histories are a funny thing. When you’re a little kid you don’t think much about who or what those family stories are all about. Often they’re long dead people who you think have little to do with how your life is affected or how these people can possibly reflect in your own experiences or even your future.

My family has a rich history. Both my mom and dad have stories that baffle others and they always look at us like we’re a bunch of weirdos. And, yes, we are weirdos. And we like it that way.

At least I do.

History has a way of weaving itself into the very fabric of your future, especially when it’s a strange or interesting or debatable retelling of family foibles. The stories my mom told me about her dad or her distant grandfather may or may not be true. But they are her truth and defined much of her personality. In my dad’s case, some of the stories about my grandfather, my aunt, and all the kids explain so much about all of our personalities. And I know that when I tell these stories that I will have family members who will deny every aspect of the details. In reality, the veracity of these tales means little. Because truth or not, perception belongs to the the teller, the listener, and the result of that is how we become who we are.

One of the great family legends on my mother’s side is her murderous uncle. He killed his father, of all people. He’s a great great uncle or some such thing, but he’s a hero in my eyes, and was in my mom’s eyes.

He murdered his father because his father beat his mother. Many times. Almost to death. The son just had had enough. He’d warned his father and his father thought he would never do it. But he did. And didn’t even serve one day in prison because the entire town (which made up his jury) knew what was happening. This was a long time ago, women didn’t really have the right to get upset about being beaten black and blue, or being beaten at all, even if death was imminent.

But even in a backwards society, one in which women were second class citizens, not too far in our distant past, the people on the jury (and they were all men) knew that what my grandfather was doing was inherently wrong. Nobody doubted that my uncle shot and killed his father. But they looked the other way and felt that my grandfather got what he deserved.

I don’t know if there had been any discussion of this within the community, and I doubt if they had involved the authorities. Some people would see this as a justification for vigilante justice. I see it as desperation. And my uncle got incredibly lucky.

This bit of family history was told quite frequently around the table or when a news story of domestic violence came up. Mom was adamantly for women’s rights. She was a feminist, (a word that apparently is considered in some circles as “bad), one who really hated the fact that she was an at home mom for much of her life. She didn’t want special treatment, but equal treatment. She cared about the environment, but didn’t like taxes. She felt the burden of being a highly intelligent woman in the business world. When she worked at the Beverage Company in Livermore (a subsidiary of PepsiCo) and asked for a raise, she was told that she didn’t need the job and that the raise would go to a man who did half her work and was less able. This was in the 1970’s. Not that long ago.

Her story didn’t just start with the day she decided it wasn’t even worth working. It started long before that, with her grandfather, her uncle, and her mother.
My grandmother was a pretty harsh woman. Mom was punished quite severely if she didn’t make sure the house was clean, if her brother wasn’t cared for, if her sister made a mess. A lot of the problems my mother and I had were related to the fact that her mother was kind of an awful person, specifically to my mom. She was beaten with a razor strap. This is a rather large piece of leather used for sharpening razor blades. It was convenient for my grandmother because she was one of the first women barbers in California.

She accomplished stuff, did my grandmother. Not only was she one of the first female barbers in California, she supported her three children as a single mother in the 1930’s and 1940’s, when it was not commonplace to do so. My grandfather died in WWII, and she fought for his daughters to get the orphan monies due to them for having a father die during an active war. The War Office claimed in 1945 that the girls didn’t need the money as they would one day marry and they sure as Hell didn’t need the funds for going to college or the like. Never mind the fact that they might want to eat or get some clothing or pay for rent while they were still children.

So my grandmother fought with the government and won a bit of money for the kids, and she cut hair. She cut anyone’s hair, one of the only barbers who didn’t care if you were Mexican, or Native-American, or African-American. Most of her money was made cutting African-American hair. And she never cared, never felt that she was lowering herself. She did what she had to do to survive, and it’s one of the greatest legacies she gave to us, her family.

For one thing, my mom was taught how to make chili by Native-Americans. And my mom’s chili was the best on the planet, and I’ve eaten a lot of chile. I still try to duplicate it and I can’t.

On the serious side of this, my mom raised me to not see color. With one exception which I will get to in a minute.

When I was around 8, mom had an African-American friend with a pool. For me, anyone with a pool rocked my world, so I didn’t even have a clue that Karen, the daughter was black. She was just a nice kid who lived in an apartment complex with a pool. We played with other stuff, but the pool was the key factor. She’d come and stay at my house and we’d feed the baby goats, which was probably her equivalent of my pool love, and I never thought about anything but that she was fun and smart and kind.

I remember that the pool never had any people in it. This was 1974, and as a kid I never thought much about it. Now, I suspect that the overly white, upper-middle class, suburb of San Francisco wasn’t quite ready for a black kid and a white kid being in the same pool. Didn’t matter that Karen’s dad made as much money working for the laboratory that supported most of the families in Livermore. He never complained that the apartment was the only place that would rent to them. He never complained that his daughter might not get the same consideration as I, as a white kid, might get.

I often wonder what happened to them. They had a couple of serious setbacks and disappeared from our lives. But I do thank them for accepting our friendship in a time when that wasn’t very easy.

My grandfather died in WWII, so I never met him. My mom didn’t much like him, as far as I could tell, but she was proud that he served in the “Great War”. They were able to see him in the hospital before he died, but he didn’t survive the injuries from the bombing of his hospital. As a dentist, he was in the Pacific helping with the injured. Medical personnel was always difficult to find, and they didn’t discriminate when in need.
The Japanese bombed the building, using the giant red cross as a target.

My mom played with a little girl named Komiko for years. One day she vanished. Gone. Placed into the internment camps that are just one more shameful event in our incredibly shameful history of racist actions in the country.

She told me she always missed Komiko, and was glad to find that her family came back from the camps and rebuilt their nursery business and became successful despite their imprionsment.

But she didn’t communicate with her. Or play with her. And she hated the Japanese because they killed her father, using the one good thing she felt he’d ever done with his life against him.

She and I went around and around about this. Racism against the Japanese was fully acceptable for years after WWII. Dr. Seuss famously created political cartoons defaming everything related to the Japanese. (To be fair he wasn’t kind to the Germans, either). People can say it was a sign of the times, but it troubles me. We see this now in regard to Islam. There’s always an excuse for people to hate someone that isn’t like them, and what we never seem to take into account is that the Japanese commoner, the ones living in say, Nagasaki, for the most part didn’t like the war any more than someone living in the Bay Area. They only believed in the propaganda on their side, the same as us. And when they lost their sons they grieved just like we did, and do.

My mom’s hatred of one specific nationality made me realize that racism is pretty ridiculous. If she could accept an entire segment of our society, a segment that when I was growing up was particularly oppressed and disliked, then what was wrong with accepting the Japanese? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

So even though I could have hated, I chose to embrace those she loved, and accepted. And I couldn’t have done that if she hadn’t have shown me what it was to be accepting. In her strange, odd, counterproductive way. I just chose to go one step further and realize that all people love, all people can be kind, and that all people can be absolute monsters. It just depends on what we choose to live.

My mom was a strong woman. She was probably what would be called a Tiger Mom now, which by the way is embarrassing and does nothing for the child’s self esteem. She had a lot of faults, but many strengths, too. When she died so suddenly I realized that I had wasted a lot of time being mad at her for her faults and not paying attention to what she gave me as a person. I not only shorted her, I shorted myself.

In Part 2, I’ll talk about my dad’s family and the impact those family legends have had on me. Be ready for a rip roarer, with people running away to the circus, my dad being pitchforked (almost?), bootlegging, drunk rolling, and reform school woes.

It’s Already Fading; The Loss of Robin Williams, Media, and the Heart and Soul of Mental Illness.

I’ve waited a bit to write this. One reason is because of my own battles with mental illness and my son’s recent diagnosis with Bipolar 2, Robin Williams’ death has impacted me on a deeply personal level. I know I’m not the only one, but each person experiences grief in their own way. For me it’s important to share my story of depression and hospitalization as I think honesty and openness takes away the stigma. People who knew me before the hospitalization realize just how sick I was and those that have met me after are sometimes shocked by the fact that I once tried to kill myself. I don’t hide it. I’m not dwelling, but I am evidence of a life after being sent to the nutbin. I am evidence that things can get better and that life is often the proverbial bumpy road, but if you slow down you won’t knock your head on the ceiling of your car.

When I first heard of Robin Williams death, I knew instinctively that it was suicide. I don’t cry over celebrities, but did as soon as I heard. He was a kind man, local to us, funny, inspirational, and willing to talk about his disease and struggles quite openly. The only thing good that could come from his leaving us was that I thought with someone as loved and cherished as this man, maybe, just maybe, people would start to talk about suicide in a way that didn’t include the words selfish, or coward, or crazy. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Henry Rollins has effectively crossed Robin Williams off of his list of celebrities who deserve to exist in his very narrow view of life. People on social media adamantly state that he has given up, one family going so far as to send his daughter a picture of a dead body photoshopped with Mr. Williams head. I find these people vile. Yes, some of them have had their own experiences with suicide or depression and have an ingrained belief that if you commit suicide you’re a coward. Abandoning children often comes up in these discussions. What they have is a misunderstanding most times informed by ignorance, stigma, and an idea of conformity that is so ingrained into our consciousness that anyone with mental illness is somehow “wrong”. Or scary. Or pretending. Making it up.

Let me tell you, I wasn’t making it up.

When I swallowed pills I had heard the arguments. Don’t leave your children. Don’t be a coward. Don’t be selfish. It didn’t matter. When you are in the depths of depression you often don’t feel. There’s a numbness that you produce in order to protect yourself even just a little bit. Because the other side of that is a protracted battle with feeling too much. Everything hurts, from washing the dishes to hugging a child that you truly believe will be better off without you, to going to bed at night. It is both physically and emotionally so painful to be that deep into the disease that you cannot wait to escape by any means necessary. People can tell you that there is help, but sometimes it’s too late and you swallow the pills or cut your wrists or hang yourself with a belt to stop and endless battle with pain, misunderstanding, and the need to stop.

Tragic secret that I don’t share very often, but I am now. I took the pills right in front of my 14 year old daughter. Why? I have no idea. I just wanted out. I regret it to this day and sometimes I think that has impacted our relationship irreparably. Which is why I speak out.

I did get help. My heroic daughter kept her cool and called 911. After a stint in the mental hospital off and on for 4 months and a realization that I didn’t need anyone else to define me, I was marginally better. I still struggle sometimes, but it’s become more of an agoraphobia thing (I have no idea why) and I rarely consider the world as a place better off without me.

I once spoke to Robin Williams on the phone. He told me everything was going to be okay. I’ve never forgotten that conversation, through laughter and tears and hope. He gave me hope when I was still vulnerable because I thought this wonderful man understood me and we would win the battle together. To be honest, since it was on the phone, I’m not sure if it was really him or not, but if it wasn’t he was a damn good impersonator. But, whomever it was saved me that day, and then the next, and then the next, just as much as the hospital and the doctors did, until I was strong enough to save myself. Sadly, the many posts, and discussions, and tweets about suicide prevention have started to fade away which is what happens. People rally around a cause for a few minutes and then the next one comes along and they move on with an international ADD complex. Pay attention. 40.000 people die every year from suicide. Everyone I know has been impacted. It’s not a weakness, it’s a disease just like cancer, or the current popular cause, ALS. Be aware. And protect your loved ones because you never know when they’ll break.

If someone you love has any suicidal ideation do not judge. Help them. If you are suffering from deep depression, suicidal ideation, or have a plan, please call 1-800-273-8255.

Soccer is Life

April 2001 --- Soccer Ball --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

 

I’ve been meaning to do this post for about 100 years. With the furor of the World Cup over and the issues Brazil, Russia, and Qatar are bringing up, I think it’s a good time for me to write this and explain why sport,  and particularly soccer for me, is so important. There are many things in this world that are terrible, we can look on Facebook or watch the news and see how awful the world is. Even sport can be associated with the terrible aspects of human behavior, but it also can be associated with the best of us, can save lives, change lives, and make our lives better. I’d like to concentrate on the positives for once and I think soccer has far more positives than the negatives.

I’d like to point out that I’m using soccer. I actually prefer the term Football, but handegg takes that title here in the United States. In no way does that mean I am ignorant of the sport or its history. I probably know more than the guy who watches every weekend in his pub drinking tons of thick beer. I lived, breathed, ate soccer for 25 years. Now I’m limited to watching it on television, or making a trip out of it somehow. But that’s okay. Ex-athletes have little choice in the matter sometimes, and nothing will ever change what soccer has done for me in my life.

I started when I was 6 years old. My mom, who was as obsessive about my weight as she was her own, thought I was getting chubby and needed exercise. I played when Franz Beckenbauer was playing, PBS played Bayern Munich’s games every Saturday and after my games mom and I would watch Bayern Munich and Der Kaiser clobber the other teams. When he and Pele came to play for the Cosmos I was able to see both of them in Oakland when they had a soccer team called the Stompers. We went to see every game they played at the Coliseum and some of us got to meet a lot of the players. it was exciting, but at the time, not the most important aspect of the game for me. In the 1990’s they started playing Manchester United games and I found my team. The beautiful game never seemed more lovely.

Soccer was, in many ways, my savior. Mom was difficult. I still struggle with some of the things she called me as it has left a huge imprint on my life. I still think I’m stupid occasionally, that I will never amount to anything, that I am worthless, and my favorite, a slut. At 12, I was convinced I was useless. Only on the soccer field was I good enough, although even that had it’s limits. I remember being 11 or 12 and playing goalkeeper. I was decent, but not fantastic, but we were losing a game pretty badly and I wanted out. My defense sucked, it was hot, I was done. I got yelled at all the way home for being a primadonna, one of her favorite derogatory terms for someone she had little respect for. I’m not sure I even knew what the word meant, but I knew it was bad.

It was like that a lot. But I could go strap on my boots, put on ridiculous headband (I played in the late 70’s and 80’s), pull on that hot as hell polyester uniform or a t-shirt, and forget about it all for hours. I could go outside and kick the ball with all the anger that I had and forget for just a little while, the sun shining, the grass freshly watered. I still smell wet grass and get a huge lift just from that. And I know there were other girls I played with that had similar experiences. We lived in an upper-middle class suburb, but there were low-income girls who played, and it got them out of that stereotype of drudgery and laziness and uselessness that so many people assign to the poor.

And we were the elite. We played at the highest level women could play at at the time, we had special uniforms, we traveled with bags that had our names on them, the team names on them, with flags and supporters and we won. We won a lot.

But, perhaps the most important thing was that we learned about the world. And what we would have to face as women who pioneered the sport in America for women, sexism in general,  as people facing racism, and as people of the planet enjoying something that changed us and the world around us.

I grew up in a suburb of San Francisco. At the time, the city was probably 95% white, but you’d never know it if you went by the demographics of the women I played with. All ethnicities, races, sizes, shapes, sexual orientation, all were represented. I didn’t even understand racism, although I’m sure I parroted some of it when I was younger as it was acceptable. But, I say this with all sincerity, soccer made me liberal. I didn’t look at skin color. Not that I didn’t judge, but it was more of a if you’re good at sports, I like you. Didn’t matter if you were purple, I still liked you.

We also changed the face of EBAL and much of the United States. Title XI gives women the right to play as many sports in high school as men. We had to fight, even with a Federal Law to get to play soccer. We fought for two years, signed petitions, harassed our fellow students, and they finally “allowed” us to play in 1982. Soon, women’s soccer was everywhere, and we all know how well the US women do in the sport. I was part of that revolution, and I’m incredibly proud of that.

I played off and on until I was 35. I wish I hadn’t given it up as I miss it so much I dream about it. Frequently. But life gets in the way and I had a lot of life to live.

But, it isn’t just personal. Globally, soccer can change the world and has. Admittedly sometimes not in a good way. Most times, though, it changes things for the better just as any sport and the spirit of the sport can do. It’s only when humans get involved that it gets tricky.

It’s a symptom and a representation of globalization, one that represents every aspect of socio-economics, tolerance, understanding, and sharing the love for something that is bigger than all of us. It has definite problems; racism is rampant in certain leagues, a war has been fought over a game, and some fans take it far too seriously and actually cause bodily injury or death to other fans. The World Cup in South Africa and most recently, in Brazil, have given us evidence of poorly planned events (in terms of field construction, displacement of citizens, transportation issues) that show that some host countries are greedy and in it for the money at the expense of their own people. And FIFA is corrupt.  Again, this is a symptom of larger problems within the structure of human interaction. My point is, however, that is not the sport. The sport, or any sport, can be beautiful, it’s the people that muck it up.

There is some mythology surrounding Didier Drogba ending a war. You can read more about that here: http://grantland.com/features/world-cup-ivory-coast-dider-drogba-yaya-toure-civil-war-legend/.
Of course, it wasn’t just him, and the politics were more complicated. But the idea of soccer, the spirit of brotherhood, and the desire for peace will be forever linked to pride in the sport. The Ivory Coast was changed and the spark started with soccer. Although the author of the article I’ve linked has pretty much argued against the idea that soccer ended a war, he’s missed the main point. It matters little what ended the war; it’s the ideas that matter. Every country has its mythology (Columbus, Washington’s cherry tree, I could go on), and this is a part of the Ivory Coast’s manufactured feel good mythology. But soccer played a part in it, and even this author admits that the sport has given the country hope.

And hope is a huge part of life. Without it, we sort of just shrivel up and die.

I recommend this film :

to everyone I meet. it exemplifies hope for the people involved. There is tragedy, triumph, romance, and change. What other sport does this? What other mega event gives us so much?

Lastly, I’d like to say that there are a lot of things that should have changed before Brazil held the World Cup and before they should hold the Olympics. But again, that isn’t sport, it’s people. And it’s because we allow it to happen. I said to someone who was adamantly against the sport of soccer and specifically the World Cup because of the tragedies that happened in Brazil that the problems were there before the World Cup and they completely misunderstood me. I certainly support the protesters and those hoping for a better way of life for everyone in Brazil. My point was that without the World Cup, most Americans would never have known what was happening. If it did nothing else, it made people who are normally unaware of the conditions of anyone not from Nebraska aware. I also pointed out that five minutes after the World Cup was over that nobody would even be talking about Brazil and their worries anymore. And I was right, they aren’t

Again, this is not the sport. This is people.

And soccer can make us better people and that is what matters.

 

 

 

Just Because

I’m putting this here on my blog because I rather like it and I don’t want to lose it, haha.

 

The ball wobbled and giggled and cried.
It waited for the foot always at its side
The big toes wiggling with pride
as the ball sat waiting for the eggs to be fried.

The eggs done and the mouth eating
The ball waited in horror for the beating
As the foot jumped around waiting for the meeting 
of foot to ball with plenty of seating

As people watched with absolute glee
the ball took flight and wanted to flee
But for all the crowds there wasn’t much to see
As the foot missed three times three

The ball was no longer sad
Forgotten, lost, and never so glad
that the foot was gone and attached to a lad
Who happened to be so awfully bad.

The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future; An Homage in Place of a MOOC Review.

 

I’m calling this a review, but I’m not sure that that is sufficient for all the things I am going to say. More likely, this will be an homage. And a deserved one.

Education can be inspirational and all of you know how much value I place on learning. This course wasn’t just learning, it was an experience. What do I mean by that? This.

I am a non-believer. I went into this class solely for the purpose of learning more about a document and its history than with any interest in any real spiritual intercourse and admittedly was worried that a professor of theology would see it as his goal to force an understanding of the Old Testament regarding religion only. I was pleasantly disabused of any such purpose from the first lecture. Dr. Jacob Wright of Emory University not only is a very good lecturer, he seems to understand that we as people are what are important, that the information that he can give us does not end in the realm of theism, but in the realm of what he calls “Peoplehood”.

In terms of the class structure there are videos, some discussion board questions, and a quiz every week. By far the most engaging, and I feel important, aspect of the course were his lectures. Always mesmerizing, always informative, not only was I able to put aside my prejudices (and I’ll admit, I had them) I was able to understand what life was like for the Biblical authors, the people of the period, and why the Bible is important. To all of us. Not because it’s a spiritual guidebook, but because it tells us about our own humanity. Dr. Wright’s enthusiasm is contagious. After spending a year of his own time, he has created a masterpiece that speaks to all walks of life. Fascinated as I was by the history and archaeology of the course, it was his final video that pulled me in and gave me a sense of what everything that I’d been watching and reading for the past six weeks had been for.

We are a people. All of us, globally. We all fear, cry, triumph, love, and wonder. If we can look at the devastation the Biblical authors suffered, such as the loss of nation, threats to their identity, poverty, and the demolishing of their Temple, we can see the connections. We can see that we as a people can come together rather than continuing to fight one another for no real purpose. We can engage in the same way that the Biblical authors did, and that is the message of Dr. Wright and his MOOC.

The class epitomizes his goal; not only does it educate us in a fascinating subject, the Bible, its inclusiveness embraces us as a people. Theists of all sorts will find wonder and value within the scriptural connections Dr. Wright emphasizes, but his masterstroke is to give non-believers a safe place to learn about perhaps the most important document in modern times and how it became what it is.

If you only were to take one MOOC, this would be the one I’d recommend.  But beyond that, even if you have no interest in the Bible, history in general, or even in MOOCs at all, I urge you to join the class when it’s available again (which I’m hopeful that it will be), and at least listen to that last video that he has shared with us. The message is clear and it’s my hope that everyone is listening.

You can find the course here:
https://www.coursera.org/course/biblefuture

 

 

Warren Hall Implosion

Destruction of a College Building.

I chose this as my commons in Hayward. Warren Hall was a building in which college classes were held for fifty years. Additionally, the administration offices were in Warren Hall as well. I had many classes here at California State University East Bay. As an institution of higher learning that relies heavily on public funding, CSUEB is home to over 20,000 students. Known as a commuter school, it is one that has a huge diversity of students, old and young, many ethnicities, and celebrates that fact offering many programs completely attainable in evening classes. Warren Hall was a place to communicate ideas, help one another achieve goals, and most importantly give everyone on campus a sense of belonging to an institution that cared about its students. Even in its destruction the college showed its concern for the well-being of the community of students participating in courses.

I chose this video because it shows the destruction of a building for the safety of the students. Here in California we have a lot of earthquakes and it would have cost far too much to retrofit the building to be earthquake safe. On the one hand it’s good that they were concerned, but on the other a lot of spending has occurred around gymnasiums, parking lots (which have yet to be built and I graduated in 2008 with my MA) and more administration buildings. Things such as fees have been raised, quality Professors have been either let go or delegated to adjunct status, and one of the recent Presidents was investigated for fraud.

Awareness of the safety of the students is imperative an environment of learning yet it was the focus of the campus for over five years. Rather than concerning itself with building new buildings or destroying old ones, the campus needs to consider that as a State school a diverse group of students attend courses as well as the fact that the quality of the education has been falling rapidly. Students have assembled several times in order to protest the wages of the former President, the loss of quality professors, and rising costs. They must continue to do so as well as using their voices in every possible form of media on the campus. The Pioneer (the campus paper) needs to inform students of any actions regarding classes that have been cut, advertise future rallies to support change in the right direction, and fraternities and sororities must be willing to do more than hold bake sales.  Often they are the most visible of the many extracurricular groups on campus and they owe it to themselves to participate in the progress of the campus.

The destruction of Warren Hall seems to bear witness to issues surrounding the decay of the education system, yet it also shows the desire for CSUEB to become a better campus with an outcome of success through communication and learning in a safe environment.