It happens. Like a good stew and hearty soups, first impressions, if you let ‘em steep a while they become more than they were initially. Our thoughts, at first, telescoped, tunnel-vision first impressions soften, broaden and engage more as time infiltrates the matrix.
Other times, our thoughts flit as aimlessly, as thoughtlessly as swarming gnats. Where they came from, where they’re headed . . . who knows?
This is like that.
I have two sisters, both younger than me. My youngest sister is five years, seven months younger. More than a decade ago, she experienced what no parent should suffer, and what every parent worries about: losing a child in the full bloom of promise. At age 23, her daughter, her only child lost her battle with cancer, Ewing’s Sarcoma. My sister and her ex-husband were presented with her daughter’s MBA posthumously by the Governor of the University of Colorado Board of Regents.
I don’t care what you have experienced in your life; no! you don’t understand. Period.
I had plenty to think about, the first time I listened to Senator Barack Obama’s “speech;” made politically necessary as a consequence of statements railed by his minister, Jeremiah Wright. But I wanted to let my impressions steep a while.
One that arose is one I’ve held as a confected scenario to illustrate a point. I’m a school teacher who’s been confronted by a parent, angry at my very open liberal philosophy.
“Deny that you told my daughter, ‘You’re not very bright and can’t succeed.’ Deny that!”
“I won’t deny it. I said it. But when I did, it was part of a longer conversation that went like this: You think you’re not very bright and can’t succeed, but I don’t feel that way. I think you’re as smart as anyone else and can go as far as you want . . . as soon as you figure out where and how far you want to go.”
My point is exactly one of the points I feel Senator Obama was trying to make: EVERYTHING IS CONTEXT, and to spin from edited versions of a commentary is perhaps the core pathogen in evil.
Something else I’ll readily acknowledge: the level of general regard I had for Americans, over the past seven years, has fallen off the edge. True enough on the Left, but most particularly on the Right, Americans can’t handle the truth, will do anything to avoid facing it, and, when facing it is at last unavoidable, the truth will be spun into a more palatable fiction. I recently viewed The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford. It did not matter a whit that Jessie James was a fiendishly brutal pathological monster, America turned him into a Robin Hood legend to admire and adore. Ronald Reagan is another example, how we simply will not deal with the truth.
Truth? Over the past two centuries, as a government and as a people, we’ve pulled a lot of very evil crap, within the confines of our own geography as well as the geographies of folks around the globe; enslavement based on race, the quite determined genocidal push to eliminate from the earth those whose lands we stole, splitting of one foreign country into two because we wanted a canal, the overthrow of democratically elected leaders for the benefit of private moneyed interests, a century-long charge to dehumanize our own citizens (Jim Crow), imprisonment of our own citizens in concentration camps, and the list can be extended.
But bring any of these trespasses up as some of the threads running through the tapestry of our history and he who so utters them will be assailed as unpatriotic, un-American, traitorous, treasonous, and anything else that might paint that truth-teller calumniously.
Yes! absolutely we have engaged those behaviors. But that is not who we are!
I was raised in a lily-pure suburb outside a very black Detroit. Once in a while my mother would take us to Camp Dearborn, for swimming in the lake that was the centerpiece of the vast parklands that Dearborn owned for the benefit of its citizens. We were always allowed in, even though we were not Dearborn residents.
It did not matter that Dearborn was the birthplace and corporate home to Ford Motor Company, or that the world’s largest assembly plant, the Ford Rouge, was within the city’s limits. Orville L Hubbard, its mayor from 1942 to 1978, successfully ran on the promise to “Keep Dearborn white.” If you were from Allen Park, or Wyandotte, or some other all-white community, just pay the fare at the gate. If on the other hand you were black, “Sorry, residents only.”