Has the world gone batshit crazy?

It seems that way. 

I haven’t slept much this week. Each night I’ve tossed and turned watching the clock as my mind raced. Often pain and discomfort that keep me awake but the last few nights this was not the case. No, the events of the past week rushed at my thoughts like a swarm of bees evicted from their hive.

This is a writing blog. But, is there anything more important to write about than what is happening around us?

In times of crisis as well as celebration, it is the arts that express our humanity. 

Painters put images on canvas, singers raise their voices in song, photographers capture the moment, and writers write. We write in newspapers, books and now the internet. We write to preserve, share, and inform.

Today I’m sharing. A memory that has stayed with me more so than any other from my young childhood.

It happened one afternoon.

I don’t recall why or where we were going, but I remember walking along downtown with Mama and my little sisters. Dressed in matching outfits, we marched beside Mama like three little ducklings. 

Whether we were going to the post office or drug store, I can’t remember but what stands out in my memory is not where we were headed but what happened along a short stretch of sidewalk on Main Street.

As an elderly black man walked toward us, Mama shooed us over to the side to allow him to pass. But instead, he stepped off of the sidewalk, and without making eye contact, tipped his hat in our direction as he continued down the street.

My younger sister wanted to know why he was walking in the street, after all, we’d moved over like Mama said to. Me, being the all-knowing big sister proceeded to share the ways of the world. My explanation went something along the lines of, “Well, he had to go ’round because we’re white and he’s a Ni…”

In the midst of my narration, Mama’s hand latched onto my arm, twirled me around like a top, and leaned down to my eye level. I watched in horror as her big, brown eyes narrowed and her mouth became a thin, red line. In a voice so low only we three could hear she…

Now let me stop here a minute and explain something. My mama was a screamer. Slam the front door and neighbors two houses down would know of your transgression. So, when Mama lowered her voice because we were in public, it was time to be afraid. Be very afraid.

In no uncertain terms, Mama informed me that elderly gentleman had as much right to walk on the sidewalk as we did, that I was no better than him or anyone else in town, and the proper word was Negro. (This was in the 50’s.) She finished with, “Understood.”

We knew better than to echo anything other than, “Yes, ma’am.” No one wanted to be on the receiving end of a switch when we got home.

Why am I sharing this small memory?

Because that short exchange on Main Street in a small South Carolina town planted a seed in a child’s heart that grew and formed my thoughts throughout my life. And although Mama and I rarely agreed on little if anything, on this we remained in agreement until the day she died. That all of us are created equal. We all put on our pants one leg at a time. Money, fame, or knowledge doesn’t change that.

This post isn’t about political affiliation. This is about decency and respect. When we lose the ability to treat each other with compassion and respect, we run the risk of losing our humanity.

As a nation, we’ve traveled this road too many times. This week President Trump and our leaders failed once again, to stand up for what is right and good. But, their reactions and their words should NOT keep us silent.

It is time to speak out for what is right. It’s time to have “the talk” with your kids and plant a few seeds of tolerance. They will remember.

 

Read more from K.D. Dowdall-  Do We Have the Moral Fortitude to Stand Up? 

These are my thoughts. 

I like to hear yours. Leave me a comment and let’s talk.

Please head over and “like” my Facebook page at Facebook at jeanswriting . Or to connect with me, click the “write me” tab. Don’t forget you can follow me on StumbleUpon,  on Twitter @jeancogdell , and Amazon.com.

Advertisements

36 thoughts on “Has the world gone batshit crazy?

  1. Jean, this is such a powerful story. Young children are sponges and remember the seeds that adults planted. I’m so glad I teach preschool! When my class delivered our Peace Quilt to the Massachusetts State House in June, the first words our Governor said in his wonderful speech were, “Children are taught hate.” Your mother taught you love.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Coming from a multicultural family, I appreciate you speaking out on your blog. I keep a low profile most of the time, knowing people have a tendency to says things without thinking it out clearly. As for the president though, I am, like most people, shocked by him.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jean, I hope you don’t mind, but I was so inspired by this post, I wrote one of my own and am linking it here to yours. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your memory, your mother sounds like she was a remarkable woman – and reading your experience and thoughts on the subject, reminded me that I have my own remarkable mom to thank for planting the seeds of tolerance in me – so, that’s precisely what I plan to do. Thank you again!

    I found your post through Nesie’s Place (Felicia Denise).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you. I’m a pastor and have been saddened by the flippancy with which many of my fellow white conservative Christians have been reacting to the bigotry on display this week (not necessarily supporting it, but treating it as nothing more than a springboard to complain about other social issues)…we’re going to be having a discussion about it this Sunday that I’m praying has at least some of the impact that your mama’s talk had on you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I was very young, my mother told me about a man who worked as a cook at a nearby cafe. He was beaten to death, she said in tears, because he was Chinese. She sometimes talked about the Klan and the awful things they did. Why? I don’t know. She was born in the US to Norwegian immigrants. But I grew up understanding that racism was evil. I have been happily married for 36 years to an African-American woman–initially over the strenuous objections of her father. A man with a defective moral compass and corrupt character occupies the White House. As a result, however, millions of people across the country–including prominent clergy, business leaders, academicians, his fellow politicians and ordinary people like you and I are responding positively to reject racism and bigotry in favor of tolerance and acceptance of diversity.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That was a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it with us. Your mom was very special, and she taught you a valuable lesson you carry to this day. I wrote a short story a while ago called, “We are all just people.” I have a humor blog, but I may start another blog, and post it. Thank you. You’re memory, made my day

    Liked by 1 person

Let's talk! All comments are welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s