Mojo, Blivits, and  the Space-Time Continuum

 

♬Oh, where or where has my Mojo gone, oh where, oh where can it be?♬

It’s early summer and the days are long, the sunlight abundant.  I am not suffering from SAD. I am not depressed.  If anything, I’m manic…something I never am.  Downright squirrely.

John Phillips just reminded me, “The Mississippi River runs like molasses in the summertime.”  I don’t live near the Mississippi but I’ve been outside and the humidity is sticking like molasses in the summertime and it is not July yet.

I shouldn’t be running around sweating like this looking for my metaphorical gris-gris bag while searching for my juju.  Another way of saying, I can’t get my poop together?    And if I were able, I probably couldn’t pick it up because my hands are sweating too much from the humidity.

What mojo I had has galloped over the horizon into the distant sunset I am still waiting to light up from the Saharan dust storm.  Clouds, clouds, clouds.

As you can tell, my thoughts are fragmented and muddled, dancing about like Looney Tunes’ Tazmanian Devil.

I can’t get anything done.  My life is a nasty “blivit”, ten pounds of poo in a five-pound bag.  I flit from project to project while adding others, staring off into space, tapping my toes, contemplating, ruminating, and completing nothing.  COMPLETING!  I’m not even starting.

I sit knowing I should be doing something but doing nothing.  Maybe I should make it my goal to do nothing.  One can’t foul themselves with a “blivit” if you don’t touch it.

Some of you may think I’m speaking metaphorically or allegorically about irregularity…I am but it is more than a couple of failed bathroom trips although all of my problems may center around constipation rather than the time-space continuum I am contemplating.  I just don’t know.

There are four storylines waiting to be finished, waiting for most of a year.  They aren’t finished because they suck largely.  A garden that needs extreme weeding and a yard that resembles an Amazon rain forest, a porch needing repainting, a home we’ve turned into a hoarder’s paradise…and today is my anniversary.  I have lost all control over my life, my yard, my mojo, and possibly my bodily functions, but I did not forget my anniversary…I think my bride did but she recovered nicely.

And the virus…and the protests complete with looting, rioting, teargas, and downright nasty social media arguments.  I’m not going to wish my life away because there is no guarantee 2021 will be any better.  I just going to wish for a little movement…and soon.

Well, it is raining…dripping would be a better descriptor.  I see the sun trying to punch its way through the overcast. “Ole Sol” seems to be winning but the dripping gives me an out.  Instead of heading to weed my tomatoes, I sit writing this…This…whatever THIS is.

I have a theory.  Want to hear it?  You’re going to.

Writing is a way for me to face what is disturbing me.  The problem is I don’t know which disturbance has caused my mojo to run screaming into the day?  I have a plethora of disturbances.

The way my thoughts bounce around something must have happened to the time-space continuum.  There must be a rift in time.

In my head, a calm Picard orders, “Make it so, Number One,” while Commander Scott, the Scottish engineer implores, “But Captain, The engines won’t take anymore.”  In the background, I hear Benjamin Sisko’s father saying, “The soufflé will either rise or it won’t, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.”

I know, I just combined Star Treks serieses, and unfortunately, in my condition, the Sisko quote makes perfect sense.  I told you, time and space are funky as is my colon…I mean my brain.

There must be some magic charm, some talisman, some spell that will make my mojo come back.

Maybe I’m looking in the wrong venue.  Time to appropriate someone else’s culture.  Surely there is a wise, old, New Orleans, Hoodoo priestess willing to cast good luck juju upon this humble soul.  What do you mean, Voodoo dolls aren’t used in Voodoo?

Despite the facts, I feel I must have a hat pin jammed deeply into my head…or parts south.

I can’t seem to concentrate on any one thing for any period of time if that period of time is longer than seconds.  I do a little research, a little writing, a little reading, pop up to watch a bit of a DVRed episode of The Kitchen, oh wow, grilled fish tacos, a little checking of social media, walk to the refrigerator, open and close the door without retrieving anything, head down to the garden, forget why I went down there, then out to the yard and find only ten minutes have passed despite my head telling me it has been hours.  IT IS a run-on sentence and it fits perfectly with the way my brain and colon are not working right now.

Okay, so Voodoo is out.  Maybe my mojo IS lost in the space-time continuum.  Captain Kirk, lost between dimensions in The Tholian Web, came back.  Data died in one movie only to return in another series.  Spock died in one movie and came back in another, he even lost and re-acquired his brain in the same episode, Spock’s Brain.  So maybe my mojo will return!  More than likely it will be my “chickens coming home to roost” first…or maybe I should just eat more fiber.

John Phillips sings Mississippi on YouTube.

According to Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,

A gris-gris bag is a Voodoo amulet originating in Africa which is believed to protect the wearer from evil or bring luck. It consists of a small cloth bag, usually inscribed with verses from an African ancestor containing a ritual number of small objects, worn on the person.

JuJu is a spiritual belief system incorporating objects, such as amulets, and spells used in religious practice, as part of witchcraft in West Africa especially the people of Nigeria.

Hoodoo is a traditional African-American Spirituality created by enslaved African-Americans in the New World. It is specific to the distinct African-American lineage in North America. Hoodoo is the product of enslaved people and was a rebellion against absolute mental and spiritual domination by Europeans. Also known as Lowcountry Voodoo in the Gullah Lowcountry of South Carolina, Hoodoo is an amalgamation of spiritual practices, traditions, and beliefs that were held in secret away from White slaveholders. In some cases, Hoodoo was accompanied by Catholicism or Christianity.

Don Miller writes in different genres when not constipated and his author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1-nlM-kc0EFF7g5-W4Vtkeary-O49oUk3PF_i7Z615YELZdIoxgnvCezk

The image is from Quora.com

***A Master of None

 

That’s me.  A jack of no trades and a master of none.

Some people should not be turned loose with a screwdriver…or hammer.  Some people should not be allowed to open a circuit box…or change a washer, or make any household repairs no matter how simple.

Simple?  There is no such thing.  As you can guess I have odd jobs to complete.  Maybe I won’t burn down the house or flood the bathroom.

When in doubt, call the plumber.  Call the electrician.  I should always be in doubt.

Some men are born without the “jack of all trades” handyman genes.  I am one of those men.  I am not a handyman.  I am lucky to still have all of my fingers.  I am also stupid because I still try to lose them.

I know my way around a screwdriver, hammer, or wrench…even a drill.  I know which end to use and after that…I’ve found I’m pretty much useless…worse than useless.  A disaster looking for a place to happen.

“How to” YouTube videos suddenly become Godzilla movies in real life as I wreak havoc on unsuspecting circuit boards or faucet valves and innocent pieces of wood.  Can you be arrested for “wood slaughter” or nail bending?

I should have thought of my shortcomings before moving into a house that is a century and a quarter old…well…the older home does seem to be better put together than the newer edition.  They really don’t make things like they used to…I’m a walking example of that.

Wood?  It was made to burn.

I think I got my destructive gene honestly.  My dad fixed looms in a cotton mill but when he got home…not so much.  To his defense, we had no looms at home.

The memory of my Dad is not being too much of a “handy guy.”  Like me, maybe replacing a washer or pull cord on a lawnmower, but Ernest also ruined more lumber than he ever put up.  I have turned a lot of good wood into kindling over the years.

I can’t drive a nail or cut a board straight with a nailgun held to my head.  Well, I can drive it straight if it doesn’t matter what it looks like but just as soon as I try to put that tee tiny finishing nail in…I find not only have I ruined the nail but the board I’m trying to put it into.  Trim work?  Surely you jest.  They ain’t made enough wood filler yet.

There is a certain amount of pressure to perform.  Do the “manly” things of life.  My wife standing by, watching my every move.  Patting her toe, her fists clenched and resting on her hips does not help.

“So, you really want me to use this pipe wrench?  Do you have the plumber’s telephone number close by?  You know, just in case.

It is her dad’s fault.  Ole Ralph Bolt would try anything right up to microsurgery.  No job too hard or too complicated.  Not that he was any more successful, he just knew how to hide his catastrophes better than I do.

He reminded me of an organ grinder’s monkey…not in looks but actions.  He was small and light on his feet…and fearless.  Scrambling up and down ladders or across the roof.  Even into his eighties, he was willing to climb up scaffolding or step over to the edge of an overhang to drive a nail.

Banging away he would pause after miss hitting, eyeball the nail before exclaiming either, “Shi…” and reversing the hammerhead to draw the nail out or giving it the side-eye, “Well, that’s okay for ‘gubmint’ work.”

Maybe that is my problem.  I’m trying to be to pleasing…too perfect.  It just needs to be good enough for ‘gubmint’ work.  I don’t know, I think not.

I have nightmares about whether that switch I replaced is just waiting to short out and burn down our house or the valve on the water tank will fail, causing the flood of the century.

From YouTube, The Talking Heads, Burning Down the House.  Released in 1983 on the album Speaking in Tongues.

Don Miller writes at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR0wlB0DlAkqvTEshPUaqSmD10vEAKU1T70bzCJ6nhfEgrOqh3J-TAFTvNs

The image of the burning house from Photo by kolyaeg via Pixababy.

A Square Peg in a World of Round Holes

 

Social media can be exasperating but it does allow me to stay in touch with former teaching peers and students…all from the comfort of my den and recliner.

A student I had not interacted with for a while chimed in on a post and brought a huge smile to my face.  I spent the day thinking of square and round pegs and the holes they don’t fit into.

She was a slender, wisp of a girl.  Cute, with long dark hair and large matching brown eyes behind huge dark-framed glasses.  Dressed in her school uniform she looked just like any of the twenty or so students that met in my geography class.  I’m sure if she had been allowed to wear clothes of her own choosing, she might have dressed as a neo-hippy or in goth black.  She was a square peg in a class of round holes.

The classes were small, and the course of study was anything I wanted to make of it.  I had died and gone to teacher nirvana.  There were no standards to teach to, no end of course testing to prepare them for.  For a teacher on the backend of his career, it was almost like being semi-retired…almost.

I had been employed to teach geography and with carte blanche, I decided to make it cultural geography focusing more on the who and what than the where of geography.  Project-based; it would allow students controlled by the right side of their brains to express their creativity.  It would also provide great opportunities for “controlled” arguments.  I found her often to be in a not so silent minority as I attempted to control arguments that ran wildly off the rails.

She was a square peg in a world full of round holes in a class filled with round pegs.  We had just started up a new charter school, a “middle college” program that allowed students to take dual credit, giving them the opportunity to graduate with both a high school diploma and a college associate degree.  Free college credit…well, free on the taxpayer’s dime and Warren Buffet seed money.

The makeup of the school was interesting, to say the least.  Former homeschoolers, Christian schoolers, and malcontents crushed into the melting pot that was my geography class.  More than once I found myself on the left side of discussions even though I considered myself middle of the road.

I had a suspicion most of my students thought I might be standing shoulder to shoulder with Karl Marx when all I was attempting was to get them to realize that most arguments had two sides.  My little square peg was definitely on the left side of the arguments.

As I thought about her, I realized, I really like the kids that tended to wander down their paths of life.  Remember, “all who wander are not lost”, and you can’t get lost if you don’t know where you are going.  As I have grown older I found I related better to the “lost on purpose” folks than to those who were in lockstep together.

I didn’t always think that way.  My early days of teaching as I did “on the job training” were a different time, a time when history and social studies were equal parts course of study and propaganda.  We were still carrying around the pre-Watergate and Cold War “My Country! Right or Wrong” baggage.  The culture was changing but the old status quo was holding on with a death grip…and still is.

We didn’t seem to care much about modes of learning or personality profiles in my early career.  In those days we tended to try and knock the edges off the square pegs and force them into “our” round holes using our five-pound hammers and wooden paddles.  Thankfully those days have passed…they’ve passed, right?

As I talked to a mentor about one of my early square pegs, she schooled me, “They think with the right side of the brain and are not always logical to those of us controlled by our left side.  If we can get them out of high school, they will do fine.”  I think Mrs. Leatherwood was on to something.

As I look back on my own evolution, I find that it was those square pegs that made teaching interesting…more interesting. They brought a refreshing breeze into the classroom…and outside it too.  The little boy who tried to fly his hang glider off the hill at the football stadium, the crazy smart kid who came up with a plan to “streak” the “halls of education” his senior year (It was nipped in the bud before it came to fruition, saving his career).  Even the ones who filled a fifty-gallon trashcan on top of the gym foyer before painting it as a Budweiser beer can.

Inside the classroom, they were more comfortable with art and poetry than the Third Law of Thermodynamics.  They were the headbangers or want to be actors.  As painful as their creativity could be, it was refreshing.  Many times, I was forced to be the disciplinarian when what I really wanted to do was laugh.

For clarification, I enjoyed my little right-wing fascist too, and honestly tried to be a mediator rather than an indoctrinator.  I tried to argue both sides of arguments and reframed from making my political stances known…some things you just can’t hide though.

As I texted back and forth, I realized my little square peg would never wish to go back to her high school days.  Part of me thought it was a shame, another part of me is cheering her on.  I would not want to return to my high school days either.

My mentor, Mrs. Leatherwood, was correct, my little square peg is simply fine in the world she is making for herself.  Throwing clay and making art in her off-hours, she is still a square peg in a world of round holes, but she seems comfortable with it.  I’m sure she will face many forks on her path and not always make the right choice.  But I think she is comfortable with the making of mistakes all humans make.  See, all who wander are not lost.

Thanks for the smile you left me with.

***

Don Miller is a retired teacher and coach who has taken up the art of writing badly in his retirement.  His author’s page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR350Q1Jn0cOSjibk-4UScnGT9xKCp27KjrSuWxp1RymNShmpgGq04zrDF8

The image is from https://the-art-of-autism.com/the-shape-shift-square-pegs-dont-fit-into-round-holes/

 

Out in Front and Over the Top

 

In a coaching career spanning forty years, I admit to yelling this a time or two.  For whatever reason, the batter is looking for a fastball and gets something else entirely.  Old “Uncle Charlie” or a changeup comes in looking like a beach ball and then breaks down while shrinking to the size of an aspirin tablet.  “A swinnnnng, and a miss!” Bob Uecker shouts into the microphone.

The pitcher fools the batter causing him to commit early, “out in front”, and swing “over the top” of the off-speed pitch as it dives down and out of the strike zone.  If the batter makes contact, it is a weak fourteen hopper to the shortstop.  If no contact is made, the batter just looks foolish.

In real life, we shake our heads, “Life threw me curveball.”  Something that was unexpected, usually with ill-intent, some might call it karma.  If it is unexpected and good, we usually describe it as a “windfall.”  Curveballs usually don’t bode well for the batter or in real life, but sometimes….

I’m a planner.  I like everything 1, 2, 3….  My bride is not.  She is life’s counter puncher and tends to find joy in upsetting my perfectly aligned apple cart.  After bringing her a cup of coffee she asks, “What did you have planned for today?” She has just telegraphed her pitch, her intent to throw me a curve.

I remember Ron Polk, famed Mississippi State baseball coach, answering the question, “What is the best way to handle a curveball?”  Coach Polk pushed his cap back on his head and pursed his lips before answering, “There ain’t no best way.  Don’t swing at it unless you have to.”  Sage advice.

I knew exactly what I had planned for the day, a quick fitness walk, weeding the garden if it was dry enough, a long, slow wife walk, a bit of grass cutting and weed eating…in that order and that was just the morning.  When she asked her question Coach Polk’s advice popped into my head.  I didn’t swing and answered, “Nothing honey, why?”

Sometimes the pitcher will throw a curveball that doesn’t break or a changeup that’s become a batting practice fastball.  A pitch that doesn’t move enough or is not quite slow enough to miss the bat.  A belt-high or above curveball carrying a big ole sign that says, “Hit me, hit me, hit me!”  A curveball that doesn’t break or if it does, it breaks right onto the sweet spot of your bat.  Suddenly you are Mickey Mantle hammering a hung curve into the outfield bleachers at Yankee Stadium.

She answered my question, “Let’s go for a ride like we used to.”  I don’t know if she said “like we used to” but I thought it.  When we were younger and squeezing pennies until they screamed, “taking a ride” was a recreational outlet.  Living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge there are rabbit tracts and pig trails galore to explore.  We had bought our Jeep to do just that and hadn’t utilized it in the manner in which it had been purchased.

In our younger and more foolish days, we would load up the old Toyota Landcruiser with snacks and beer looking for ways to get ourselves in trouble.  Usually, we were successful.  From ripping a sidewall out and finding the jack missing forcing a five-mile hike off a mountainside, to getting too close to a ditch and finding ourselves on our side when the ditch crumbled.  We got lost more than once which was A-Okay. We were young, foolish, and in love.  It didn’t matter if we swung badly at a curveball…mostly we did it on purpose.  You can’t get lost if you don’t know where you going.  I think we have become too comfortable.

Our “ride” was a curveball we hit out of the park.  Late spring is a wonderful time in our little bit of heaven.  Mountain scenery, twisting roads alongside rocky and roaring mountain creeks, blooming rhododendron, a wild turkey seemingly wanting to race alongside us.  Yes, the best way to handle a curve is to hit it out of the park.

With Corvid-19 we’ve chosen to quarantine as much as possible.  We hope not seeing the grandbabies now will translate into seeing much more of them later, but we’ve probably used it as an excuse to be hermits.  Yesterday’s curveball may have changed that.

I still have some weeding to do and a good portion of the front yard to cut.  Today I will be cutting inside of the fence and letting my mind wander to those thrilling days of yesteryear.  A beat-up Landcruiser, an AM radio blaring the “Oldies but Goodies”, a cooler, and my bride exchanged for a four-door Jeep, Sirrus Radio, but the same beautiful bride and cooler.  Later, who knows, maybe I’ll get to swing at another curveball, “out in front and over the top.”

Don Miller’s authors page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR376tJHvxdTy4kxSV33etrGJi4wesRRjYWppO6j5ejOqgzTuFYnOelGw4w

The image was found at https://www.vbriefly.com/2014/09/23/swing-and-a-miss-part-1-silly-things-debaters-believe-about-theory-for-no-reason-by-leah-shapiro-and-christian-tarsney/

Where the Hoe Meets Rock

“What were you thinkin’?” I propped myself on my hoe and contemplated my folly of thirty years ago.  Who picks a former ravine to make into a garden.  When Highway 11 was originally built, “fill dirt” was used to fill up the creek cut ravine, the newly created creek banks stabilized by what else, kudzu. The scourge of the South…at least one of them.

Who tries to transform a broom straw laden, kudzu encroaching, rocky, and sandy wasteland into a garden?  Easy peasy, I did.  I had no choice if I was going to have a garden.  The flat area flanked on one side by a creek and kudzu and a highway and swamp on the other is the only place that receives the necessary eight hours of sunlight.

It has remained a folly despite the years I’ve spent amending with compost, wood chips, grass clippings, even ground up cardboard.  After thirty years I have about four inches of arable soil…and the rocks continue to do the dirty and multiply.

A whiney voice in my head asks, “Why do you do this to yourself.  The roads around your house are dotted with produce stands.  Walmart has corn for twenty-five cents an ear.”  I hear many voices but this one is irritating.  It is the voice that makes a yearly visit this time of the year.  Outloud, I tell it to shut up.

My grandmother is in my head too, she speaks in a voice I barely remember, “You better clean out those middles.  Look at that crabgrass.  What about the Johnson grass coming up?  While you’re at it do something about the kudzu across the fence.”

“Yes Nannie, I know…and soon the bastard wiregrass will begin its slow crawl.”  Common bermuda grass will grow on hot pavement.

My tiller is down and I’m waiting for a part.  It’s supposed to be here Monday but who knows, it may not get here, and I have the mechanical abilities of a brick.  I should probably use this hoe for something other than a leaning post.

A thick morning cloud rolled in and for a moment I think I will be saved.  There was no rain in the cloud despite the “rain” frogs in the swamp singing.  The crows in the distance cawed their good mornings as my hoe contacted one of the many rocks.  Bending over to pick it up I watched a drop of perspiration from my nose land next to my hand.  I was suddenly a small child sitting under a tree as the sun came out again.

My grandparents farmed lands too far from the river to benefit from the fertile silt deposited by seasonal floods.  Bottomlands were for the rich.  My grandparents weren’t rich…at least not monetarily.  They farmed on the lien until my granddaddy, Paw Paw, went to work in a textile mill.  Their soil was red with clay and filled with rocks too.  Their life was hard…much harder than mine, harder than the rocks they threw out of the field.

Even with steady money, my grandfather couldn’t stay out of the fields.  After eight hours in the mill, he would harness the plow horse and do his farm chores before grabbing a bit of sleep in the afternoon.  Sometimes he would head out in the early evenings too.

Corn was our staple, for both humans and animals.  Somehow the poor soil yielded the needed corn along with beans, squash, okra, and tomatoes.  There was nothing exotic in their garden not even a bell pepper.  They weren’t the exotic kind.  They were the survival kind.

I have a mental vision of a man of medium height with a sweat-stained fedora or cap.  Thinning gray hair cut short, a wide nose, and dark-framed glasses.  A man I can’t remember smiling except when he was in the fields.  A man who watched over my brother and I as we played in a sandy ditch with Tonka toys and green army men.  We didn’t know he was slowly dying from a melanoma found too late.  I was nine when he died.  He was fifty-eight or nine.

I’ve gotten into a rhythm.  Hoe the hard ground toward me for a minute or two before pushing the dirt back.  Bend over and pick up the uncovered rocks and throw the rocks toward the creek.  Rest on the hoe for a minute, stretch my back, and start over.  I don’t have the arm I used to have, or the creek has moved further away.  At least the rocks seem smaller than they used to.

Again my grandmother spoke in my head, “Get back to work, you can think and work at the same time.”  I wish I had asked more questions, “What did you think about Nannie?”

As a small child, most of my mornings were spent under a tree with a book in my hands.  Nannie’s rule was “read or come out and pick up a hoe.”  I developed my love for reading under a cedar tree or in a clump of privet.  I remember the sounds her hoe made when it contacted a rock.  I can’t remember her real voice but I remember that sound.

When I got older, I didn’t have a choice.  Hand-picking bugs, hand watering tomato plants, and hoeing middles.  Putting out chemical fertilizer that made my hands burn.  Later she would invest in a front tine tiller that most days beat me to death.

I guess there is something meditative about hoeing…except for this blister between my thumb and pointer finger that interrupts my rumination.  My grand parent’s hands were much tougher.  Hands like tanned shoe leather with thick calluses.  I remember my grandmother’s deeply lined and sun-baked face too.

I don’t know if I could call my grandmother pretty.  She had a broad face and wide-set eyes.  A thick, strong body built for farm work.  Her face was cut with deep crevasses but I remember when she laughed.  Her whole face lit up.  She didn’t laugh enough.

The frogs have grown silent as have the crows.  The voices in my head are still there and I try to shush them with the sound of the hoe.  It is humid and the weather liars say it will reach near-ninety today.  As I watched the sweat fly from my arms I realized the liars might be right.

My garden is late.  Mother Nature has been an unwholesome witch for most of March, April, and May.  If June follows suit, it will make a hard, left turn into hell.  Too cold, too wet, thunderstorms and hail in March, snow in April.  Near record rains in May and a tropical storm kickin’ up a ruckus in the Gulf and it is just the first week of June.

In between tropical systems, I finally planted tomato plants on May the fifteenth…exactly one month past our last frost date.  The two-foot-tall plants are standing proudly and filling out in their cages, but it will be a while before my first tomato sandwich.  I have one small tomato, it reminds me of a green marble.  My guess is summer will be as harsh as the spring, but hope does spring eternal.  Sure hope there is no Duke Mayonaise or white bread shortage.

It does not matter.  For what I spend in plants, seeds, and fertilizer I could buy from the produce stands cheaper.  It is not about the tomatoes, squash, and beans.

My gardening is about connections.  Connections to the past, connections to past generations.  I see my grandfather in his overalls leaning against his hoe, fedora on his head.  My grandmother is in her feed sack dress, perspiration dripping off her nose, a huge straw hat on her head.

It is about connections to the land, even lands filled with rocks.  I welcome the clank made the hoe making contact with a rock.  I smile when it happens.

Don Miller’s author’s page  https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR3YVEkI2WW4ZAZbqiYKWyhVQdkGDO6zt6QzExlP8lFCl6FVitonudcbAPQ

The image used is  a watercolor, “Hoeing Turnips”, by Sir George Clausen http://www.artnet.com/artists/sir-george-clausen/hoeing-turnips-m85xrTGVVoEQTDt3k_TMhg2

 

Shut up and Listen

 

It’s time for white folk to just shut up.  We are not listening.  We are shouting down the message.

Four years ago, Colin Kaepernick peacefully took a knee and we (White Folk) shouted him down.  Athletes who joined him were called sons of bitches and threatened with firings.  A blonde-haired news pundit told an athlete to “shut up and dribble.” Conservative radio wrapped their racism and white nationalism with the US Flag and made it about disrespect instead of listening.  Award winners who dared to use their medium as a platform were told to just accept their award and shut up.  Be quiet so we don’t have to listen.

Why? It’s easier to be tone-deaf if you don’t have to listen.  You can be happy and secure with your head stuck where the sun never shines.

Four years later, what has changed?  I’m being kind, I could have asked twenty years later? Or thirty….  Nothing.  Systemic and institutional racism is still in place along with the double standard that is our justice system…and white people are still attempting to shout down those who are affected the most.

You dare to question this great country?  Just shut up and sit down, or move.  “Don’t like it here, go back to your shithole country.”  If we shout long enough maybe a bigger story will come along during the next news cycle to make people forget.  People do forget…white people.

White folk needs to shut up and listen.  Violent protest is not constructive…you are preaching to the choir if preaching to me.  It ain’t about me.  The white folks who have the most to lose are using it to drown out the message.

Our forefathers put the system into place, and we have guarded the fire of discrimination as if our lives depended upon it.  Not all, I believe the loudest shouters are in the minority and are the ones guarding and fanning the flame of racism and intolerance.

It is time for the silent majority to shut out the shouts of the minority haters and decide what we believe in.  We can’t afford to sit on a fence that may burn down from under us.  Shit or get off the pot because it is not the responsibility of people of color to destroy an oppressive system.  A system, we, as in whites, put into being…and have maintained since the end of the Civil War.  We must be the ones who dismantle discrimination and we can’t do that without listening.  We have to make dialog possible…by shutting up and listening.

“But things are better aren’t they?”  I don’t know.  I’m an old white guy.  Maybe you should go ask a friend of color…and listen quietly and intently.

I don’t believe white people get to make up the rules for acceptable protest.  We don’t get to share cute memes of MLK’s nonviolence without also sharing his quote “Riot is the language of the unheard.”  To do so is as hypocritical as “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal” when we have a system that openly disparages, marginalizes, and discriminates.  

Before we shout about violence, we need to accept our own.  My lifetime memories are full of scenes I’d like to forget.  As a student of history, I am aware our history books are full of glossed over white initiated violence in the name of expansion, manifest destiny, imperialism, and racism.  Glossed to the point it doesn’t exist.

King’s peaceful protests were met with burning buses, police dogs, and water hoses. King’s belief in non-violence got him killed.  Murdered by a white man with a gun, trying to maintain the flame of white supremacy.

“Oh, but that was long ago, people just need to get over it.”  People can begin to get over “it” when we admit and accept our sins and the sins of our forefathers.  I don’t believe we’ve done that.  I think we have done nothing but shout our excuses and what-about- isms.

The riots from the Nineties disappeared from our rose-colored sight and out of mind…and little was accomplished. The same with protests from more recent history.

I’m an old white guy who doesn’t understand how burning down your neighbor’s house because you are pissed is positive.  I won’t ever understand it.   My time and energy, and yours, would be better spent listening with an open mind and attempting to understand why there is so much anger and frustration.

If you find it easier to believe in leftwing plots, led by George Soros or Bill Gates, the Democratic Party, Antifa or the Illuminati…if you believe it is a rightwing plot, led by Donald Trump, the KKK, The Church of QAnon or other far-right groups, you are part of the problem because you would rather face made up problems than real ones.  The real one is too painful.

Are they organized, certainly but I don’t believe it is a Dark State plot.  Activism is not a dirty word and it is not anarchy.  Are there bad players at work  Sure, but you are allowing them to shout over the message.  You are not listening.

You are the ostrich with your head in the sand or worse if you don’t believe people of color have a reason to be mad.  You are shouting instead of listening because you don’t want to hear the truth.  You are afraid to listen to the pain, anger, and frustration of your neighbors because you might have to acknowledge we live in a racist system.  You are helping to fan the flame whether you want to or not.

In 1968, King died from an assassin’s bullet. The white shouts were almost the same as today.  The streets were burning and National Guard troops patrolled American cities. The cries were of anger, sadness, and frustration.  We didn’t listen.  We were too busy shouting about radical agitators as we watched the newsreels loop.  We wouldn’t shut up long enough to listen.  It was 1968 or is it right now?

In 1992, LA burned after four LA policemen were acquitted of the beating of Rodney King.  They were caught on camera for the nation to see.  The National Guard was on patrol again and there were the same shouts, the same excuses.  We didn’t listen.  It couldn’t be about a racist system.  It was 1992 or is it right now?

Do we repeat the same sins by drowning out people in pain or do we shut up and listen?  Are we willing to push for meaningful change or wait for the next tragedy to drown it out and return to the status quo?  Are we willing to change?

George Floyd’s death was awful, but it only cast a light on one symptom of the disease.  The disease isn’t terminal yet but it is moving swiftly in that direction.  Shut up and listen before our racism kills us.

 

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Featured Image:  https://steemit.com/life/@domioanna/just-shut-up-and-listen

Don Miller’s author’s page https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1IWVKrQFOwlgUOn0jXI0N85XUF4AFM-IgNPqW7PE1GGK23l7PJUvho9Fs