Thursday, January 30, 2014

Polar Vortex

Shut the door. Not that it lets in the cold but that it lets out the cozyness.

The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.
~ Mark Twain

This reader’s letter appeared in my hometown newspaper on January 28, 2014:
Reading the constant barrage of letters from those who vilify the current governor, state legislature and conservatives and Republicans in general makes me wonder if there is any hope left for this country.
After 100 years of Democratic-controlled government in North Carolina, with all its catering to special interests, crooked politicians, hiring of donors and spending the state into massive debt, these idiots rail against bringing back fiscal responsibility and trying to slow down the growth of government as something terrible. They continue to defend Barack Obama, the dictator-in-chief, who is the most incompetent, radical, dishonest, unlawful and dangerous America-hating person ever to occupy the White House. He has done more in five years to destroy our coveted American way of life, as well as America's standing in the world, to increase the national debt and to ignore the Constitution than all his predecessors.
Those outside of this country, many of whom risk their lives to try to come here, must wonder what kind of mental illness is overcoming America, and surely the Founding Fathers must be rolling in their graves. Obama and his merry band of radicals in the White House and in Congress threaten the very existence of the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world.
I pray that enough Americans are as concerned as I am and will vote accordingly this November. Take back the Senate and send Sen. Harry Reid back to the desert!
~ WILLIAM C. SIDES JR., Clemmons
This is a bad time of year for me. My brain is always on fast-forward during the coldest, darkest months of the year, and this year exceeded cold expectations. The problem is the day-to-day time doesn’t accelerate to catch up. It leaves me hanging out there, twirling in the polar vortex. 
I’m having strange dreams again, too.  I’m moving and hired the worst moving crew. They stomp mud into the house as they carry their straps, tarps, and boxes in. Then, without moving a single item, they sit at the table and take a break. They order pizza that looks like cake and point out tiles that are buckling away from the wall, the grout between them gooey and oozing. I double-pay the pizza delivery guy who drives away on a scooter before I can correct my error. I decide it doesn't matter, so I sit down and share pizza with the movers.
In another dream people from my past confront me. We offended one another and now they want to correct the record. But I don’t want to change anything because the story cannot and should not be edited. Accept what was and don’t alter the truth, I beseech them. They are in my face, one after the other, demanding an altered story and a happy ending.
I used to be forgiving. I believe I still am, but I feel the tug of indecision and the arrival of forgiveness taking longer and longer. I wonder how that has diminished or changed who I am.
One day, after an exhausting foray into local and national news and the burn of several interactions with people who claim allegiance to their Southern heritage that includes segregation, violence, suspicion, and hatred, I gave myself permission to not like someone if he appears unreasonable and if he directly affects the quality of my life. I used to drag them all along with me, unwilling to leave them behind, but now I don’t. I leave them where they are. I say, let them wallow in the misery of their heritage. No progress for them. They want to protect their "coveted American way of life." They choose to take America back, but I refuse to go backwards.
Sounds harsh. They are harsh, too, when they fling their insults and hatred in my direction because I am interracially married. Even worse is when they reach for their guns and point them at those people they believe are trying to take their freedoms away, or rather, if they were honest, their privileges away.
I don’t see good intent, honesty, and love in their actions.
Yet I haven’t condemned them “back to the desert.” Can’t we live in harmonious proximity instead of arming up or shrieking lies and rhetoric? But they won’t stop.
I see their fear. Fear makes people do terrible things. Why are they so afraid?
So many of them claim God is in control yet that belief does not allay their fear. Let go let God I’ve often heard. But they don’t trust God either. Else why are they intervening on His behalf and in His name? I pity them.
This letter also appeared on the readers’ page of my local paper on Thursday, January 30, 2014:
I think that dropping all charges against those law-breakers of the Moral Mondays group was a dumb thing to do (“Charges dropped against 50 protesters,” Jan. 23).
They should be made to pay the state back all of the extra money that it cost to pay the police for all the extra time and money that it cost the taxpayers for protests that are in my opinion useless, because they are too sorry to get out and work for a living, instead of always wanting something for nothing!
I wish I could figure out what planet these people live on: where hatred, fear, segregation, and violence are the answers to their questions; where there are hordes of lazy people living off the good and righteous "white" people; where guns are the answer to a question that never needed to be asked in the first place.
I don’t want to live there. I don’t care if they live by their worldview as long as they accept that I live by a different worldview. That’s how I changed, when I realized they would not change. Facts don’t matter. Content of character doesn’t matter. Accomplishment doesn’t matter. Humanity doesn’t matter. Fear of the loss of privilege matters. They can only see and hear and experience what they want to believe. 
We didn’t invade their world. Their world is our world. We’ve always been here. They didn’t see us; they didn’t hear us; they didn’t acknowledge us. Now we refuse to be invisible or silent or acquiescent. We are women and men and children, of diverse sexual orientations, people of color (neither "black" nor "white"), interracial, interethnic,  religiously free and tolerant, poor and middle class, liberal and centrist, abled and disabled, progressive and hopeful, stewards of the earth and of each other.

We don’t want something for nothing. We don’t want a free ride. We don’t want great wealth. We want jobs that pay a living wage, equality in the workplace and in our neighborhoods and institutions, access to affordable healthcare and education, environmental safety and protection, and a path to improve the quality of our lives if that is what we choose. That’s the world I want to live in, but the polar vortex is descended upon us, and I am twirling in the whiteout.

President Obama delivering the SOTUS. Far from the dictator-in-chief that some view him as, I see him as a sign of hope and change.

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