Thursday Thoughts

   I think I need a day each week where I just ramble….’course, I do that a lot anyway, but sometimes I just want to process in writing what’s swimming around upstairs (was that a mixed metaphor?). I’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple of weeks wondering about the state of the country, especially since a good friend is leaving the US for a three-year teaching contract in Vienna, as she is pretty dissatisfied with the direction we seem to be moving. So it was interesting to see this post by Bill Moyers, whom I really respect. It’s all about a change in FCC regulations that would allow public television and radio stations to take advertising money for political groups, in the name of free speech. I love this quote:

“Imagine if you turned on your TV set someday soon and were greeted by Sesame Street, brought to you by the letter C, for “creeping campaign cash corruption.” Perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch, but as the late William F. Buckley, Jr., used to say, the point survives the exaggeration.”

I’ve also become aware over the last few months that for a political science major, I tend to not examine information on line perhaps as closely as I should. Just because something has a liberal label, or is posted by a liberal group, doesn’t mean it’s absolutely and completely true. I need to apply that same rigor as I would to examining a conservative posting. I also am trying to be very conscious when I make a comment to be sure that it is absolutely civil in its questioning.

Perhaps what’s going on in my head – and heart – is the desire to become the change I want to see. Since we know that every individual can make an impact, no matter how small, I need to continue to try and make an impact, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem to me. I have a lifetime of years of seeing the impact I have made in teaching, student by student, so there is no reason to believe that influence stops, just because I have retired.

Along with this has come an increasing awareness and fear of the growing evil that I see in the world. Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day, and I have a few columns on next Tuesday’s Top Ten dealing with the Holocaust. I remember when I first heard about the Holocaust, at a young age of ten, from a neighbor. I asked my nana about it, and her curt reply was “we don’t talk about that.” As my mother worked on the maternal family tree, and I learned more about the emigration of my father’s family from Lithuania and Germany, and the Jewish surnames, I began to wonder, but no one ever answered any questions, and I really was too afraid to ask out loud. Now I just don’t know, and will never know. Here’s a Bill Moyer’s “Moment” with Elie Wiesel about whether humanity is good or evil.

One of the most influential pieces of fiction I read at 12 was Exodus, by Leon Uris. I loved that book, and I still reread it at least once a year. My copy is battered, and the cover page says 50 cents, so you know just how old it is. That started my real interest in the Holocaust, and I still read whatever I can get my hands on. One day in the pool at one of the complexes where we lived, I met Gina, a lovely older woman with thinning red hair and a thick accent. We started talking about living in the complex, and I noticed numbers on her arm. She was a survivor. I didn’t know what to say, I was so in awe of her. She wanted to know what I did, and then she mentioned that she and her husband used to go into classrooms every year and work with the teachers on teaching about the Holocaust. She had two grown daughters and several grandsons, but she was losing her spark of life, as her husband had died within the last year. I wanted to talk to her, to say how much I admired her, but I was afraid of prying. She died several years later, just as we were moving from that complex, from complications of pneumonia; she just hadn’t wanted to go to the doctor, and then it was just too late. Gina reveled in life, from Friday night at temple to her grandsons, to the every-day act of waking up warm and well-fed.

I guess I do need to ramble each week. I hope I continue to revel in life, thankful for all I have, and all I can still do in my life.

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