Sunday, April 23, 2017

Book Memories

One of the most important lessons my mom passed on to me was how to make the small things special. Cuddling up together on the couch in a cozy blanket? Oooh, fun! Filling the bird feeder outside and waiting for the birds to come? Suspenseful! Trying a new cookie recipe? Exciting!

I am so lucky that the little things in life were appreciated.

Mom also taught me the love of books, and new books were a very special thing. One of my favorite book memories is when she introduced me to the Little House on the Prairie book series. Each time I finished one, we would make a special trip to the bookstore in Bloomington to buy the next book. Such anticipation!

Another favorite memory occurred on New Year's Day, 1984. Mom brought out her old paperback copy of George Orwell's 1984, and she began reading it out loud. It was a book that I wouldn't have read on my own, but together we were transported to a future, strange world that led us to talk about our current society and Orwell's look at our point in time.

Mom also read to me from a book of James Whitcomb Riley poetry. My favorite was "Little Orphan Annie," in which each stanza ended with, "And the gobblins'll get you if you don't watch out!" I learned that poetry could be scary and fun!

I think tonight I will dig out that old copy of Riley poems. I know my son will like them, too.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Quest for Decency

My son colored my sign for me.

For the march last Saturday, I had trouble figuring out what to put on my sign. I didn’t want to put a funny quote or something angry; I wanted it to reflect my concerns in a serious manner. For a while I decided that there was just too much to write, and I would just paint a big heart on my sign. But then I realized I could sum up my concerns in just a list of words:


These are the things that I feel are threatened by the current administration.

I considered writing “Respect,” but that word, while a good one, can instill judgement and obligation. I prefer “Decency.”

Decency is a concept that cannot be argued. Respect, on the other hand, can be demanded, and people think it has to be earned. But how can anyone disagree with the value of decency? Isn’t it a core value? It is something that we need to use as a tool in our communication, in all our relationships, and in our politics. If our politicians treated each other with decency, they could hear each other and get more done. If our politicians spoke to us with decency, we might not be so afraid. If people treated each other with decency, the world would be a gentler, kinder place. Common decency could heal.

I worry about the loss of all the concepts in my list, but I think the “decency” one is almost the most important. How can we solve any of our problems if decency is missing?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Good Sportsmanship

Us in 5th or 6th grade...we were headed for basketball greatness!

One of the things I learned during my childhood in rural Southern Indiana was the value of being a good sport. This meant that you showed others with respect even if they won and you lost, even if they believed differently, and especially if you were the winner.

An example of this happened when I was in high school and our basketball team had its best season in the history of the school. At one game, while the opposing team's members were announced and each ran onto the court, for some reason that day some of our students in the stands decided to turn and put their backs to the opposition. I remember being appalled by was so rude, so against what we had been taught in how to play fair and treat others with respect.

And our principal agreed. The next morning on the school announcements, Mr. Babcock spoke to us all in a stern voice. This was not the behavior he expected of his students. Never again did I see anyone attempt something like this at our school.

This morning as I drove to work, I listened to a bit of the inauguration. It was the portion when people were arriving, and the commentators were giving reports of the atmosphere.

Imagine my reaction when I heard them say that when Hillary Clinton appeared on the jumbo-tron, some of the crowd booed. And there were even chants of "Lock her up." Immediately I was sickened. Even in the game of politics, this is not how someone should be treated after they lose.

I have so much respect for the fact that Hillary is at this morning's inauguration. She is putting aside their differences and showing her respect for our country and our democratic process. That is true class.

The people in the crowd need to learn that there is a time for protest and a time for decency. I am so worried about the lack of decency that seems to be gaining momentum.

So for now, I'm going to try to teach my son to be a good sport. Treat others with respect whether you win or lose. It's a lesson so many still need to learn.