A Generation – a musing

I was thinking about generations yesterday as most of the country observed Martin Luther King Jr Day.

My parents’ generation (and mine were on the younger side of it) – The greatest generation – born in the depression, fought and sacrificed in a world war. They buckled down at home, rationing, recycling, women working while men were off to war, building and gathering around a common cause. Were things perfect? Totally not so. There was much discrimination and inequality and when the men came back, women were sent back home or relegated to lower wage jobs.

My generation (and I’m really on the tail end of it on most scales) – The baby boomers, the kids of that generation. We grew up during the “korean conflict” and “vietnam”, neither popularly understood or supported war actions and the cold war which had us hiding under our school desks so we’d know what to do if someone dropped a bomb on us. (PS I am pretty sure the answer to that question is die, perhaps mercifully die.)

But here’s what I was really thinking about. I was pretty young when John Kennedy was assassinated. Such a clear moment even so, with all its somber ceremony and the unexpected killing of his accused murderer. Ruby died long afterward almost an afterthought. The young president, full of hope and vigor was not perfect by any means either but he was inspirational as a leader, even supported the arts. We remember his words today and his promise as a leader taken away too young.

His successor, Lyndon Johnson took on the social missions that Kennedy had set out and accomplished much while simultaneously getting mired in Vietnam. He and his wife underscored the beauty of our nation and pointed out that we needed to preserve and appreciate it.

Then Martin Luther King Jr was killed.

Then Robert Kennedy was killed.

I was older then, old enough that I was taken with the message of both men, too young to do much about it other than being inspired by the ideas. It was a blow to think that someone would remove such leaders from a world that so needed them.

Then Nixon. Seductive in his promise of ending Vietnam. Slimy in almost every other way. There was a summer of his VP being against the wall and leaving. Then it all began to crumble around him. It was scary and yet the process – the hearings, the news reporting, and ultimately his resignation and replacement – was all orderly and reassuring. The constitution holds because people want what’s right and this isn’t.

Like the assassination of Kennedy, everyone hoped we’d never go through anything like that again.

In the years since, government has really faltered. Too much lobby money, too much money behind elections, obviously no need for government experience to rise to a high office. Much political finger pointing, too little discussion or interest in seeing the needs of the nation. Can you imagine anyone saying right now – we should start a new space program. Or invent something that will really clean the air or oceans. We should develop non-polluting transportation and power…

I heard about a guy who wants to run for senate and he’s freaking 95. Come on – surely there’s someone younger available, and frankly I’d like to see some folks younger than me starting to come up. We need new ideas and energy and they need to start getting the experience.

We had a young fellow recently as president and he got shut down by the politicos at every turn. And the current administration would apparently like to erase all traces of its predecessor for no other reason than he was black and young and smart.

Anyway, I was wondering about the impact of losing those three leaders on our generation, with the dollop of September 11, 2001 on top. I think we are in need of new leaders to help us to action but in the meantime we only have us.

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Today, Poetry

Today at lunch
I wrote a poem about war
and thought
this is what it’s come to
after all these years
of killing.
War again.

That’s not the poem
but it’s what I was thinking.

Someday

Someday, my friends, I will apologize for having filled my social media with scary news stories, abominations of the current world and calls to action, but today is not that day.

Terrorist President

Got up this morning and after awhile thought to look at what Twitterlandia had to offer. [For those who don’t mix with me on Facebook, Twitterlandia is how I re-tweet screenshots of the 45’s tweets. This started when I kept going to verify what I was reading about. Did he really tweet THAT? Yes. And that??? Yes. And Holy Crap THAT??? and so on. Some people don’t do twitter so I capture screen shots and post them to facebook with a minimal bit of tagline after the opening “Twitterlandia:”]

I can’t even say “just when you think it can’t get any more stupid/crazy/ridiculous/preposterous” anymore. Every single time the guy tweets he just makes it more surreal/absurd/beyond understanding.

So today I was thinking about this progression and about yesterday’s attack in London and about 45’s responses and about the very pointed and mocking responses to his tweets and the very real effect of those tweets globally and more locally.

Donald Trump, the forty-fifth president of the United States is a terrorist.

One of the things that sets terrorism apart is the erratic, unexpected nature of it, along with the idea that such actions and the resulting fear it causes will disrupt normal society and life, making people willing to do extraordinary things in order to feel safe and normal again.

Who do we have that does this on a regular basis? Yeah that guy.

So consider this a reminder not to get bogged down by it all – do what you can to keep your own life on an even keel – resist in all the ways you can but don’t give up what’s important to you. It’s vital that we continue to resist and insist that our other officials represent us and do what is right. It’s equally vital that we keep on making art and enjoying the world and taking care of each other because that’s what really matters.

Long ago, in a tiny galaxy far far away…

Many many years ago, at some quilt-related something or other, this appeared amongst a set of blocks on display.

It wasn’t originally crumpled. I think I did that as a gut reaction when it was brought to me. I may have tossed it over my shoulder at the time. I have never much liked the notion of “the quilt police” and I sure as hell don’t like sneaky little people who leave anonymous mean remarks about someone else’s work. I didn’t much like the willingness of AQS to roll over for a woman who complained about male genitalia on a quilt that contained no such thing.

When I was a quilt show bureaucrat I often said that while I carefully read all comments and suggestions about our show, the rage-filled and non-constructive ones which were anonymous got put on the bottom of the pile. I feel strongly that if you have something to say, you should be willing to put your name on it, if only so someone can follow up with you, get the rest of the story, give you more info etc. Start a dialogue. Maybe sign you up to help improve things.

As I recall we didn’t tell anyone about this little note but I fished it out of the trash and it went home with me. See the little dot at the top of it? That sucker has been pinned to a little bulletin board in my workroom doorway ever since. Geesh, you’re thinking, that’s sort of grim. Why be reminded of stuff like that?

I kept it there – and look at it regularly – as a reminder that people of all walks of life act this way. Quilters aren’t some special lovey-dovey society that is uber sharing and kind and respectful. All the little sub-genres grumble and laugh and point at all the others that don’t follow their interests and “rules”. Quilters are just people, like you find everywhere else, good and bad, and all the rest of it. They fear things they don’t understand. They try to make themselves feel better by putting others down.

This week there’s been chatter on the web about other people in the quilting world, small as it is, using social media to ostracize and bully others who aren’t like them in any number of ways. Secret facebook groups make it easy to get people talking about other people. Remember that old cartoon – on the internet no one knows you’re a dog? Well eventually, if you’re hateful and mean, the truth comes out. Doesn’t matter what circle you’re traveling in, there are mean people who try to control with rules and bullying everywhere.

I don’t like their behavior. Sometimes I spare some pity in their direction, that their whole life is so fear-filled, so control-lacking that they will do anything to anyone else to try to gain an upper hand and a sense of superiority. Sometimes. Other times I can convince myself to ignore them.

These days I don’t think that ignoring bullies is the right thing to do. If you choose to wear an offensive shirt or hat I will try very hard to converse with you as a human and I hope you will do the same. If you are rude to me or someone nearby or generally offensive in your comments I’m going to tell you to stop. Gently at first but firmly. I will not give you the satisfaction of whatever it is you’re trying to do. Hate is wrong but frankly I think you’re mostly full of fear – fear of difference, fear of failure, fear of being outside. Ignorance and fear, the great instigators of hate-behavior. I’m sad your life is full of all that garbage but I’m not stepping in it.

What will you do next time you encounter someone who makes racist or sexist or whatever sort of hurtful, ignorant remarks?

He who wishes to exert a useful influence must be careful to insult nothing. Let him not be troubled by what seems absurd, but concentrate his energies on the creation of what is good. — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

NaPoWriMo Day Eighteen

A poem of necessity to start the day, we’ll see what the rest of the day brings.

Morning
waiting room blaring
with TV
morning noise
afternoon noise
evening noise
background music
occasional beats
erratic refrain
pretended mood
supposed privacy
always a background
irritant wearing,
are we so afraid
of a breath
our thoughts too loud?

Helpful Life Hints: How To Respond To Art You Don’t Like

I think anyone who has ever made anything has had someone, sometime, make some flip, off-handedly bashing comment about it. Not always to the maker directly, not even considering that they or someone they know might be nearby to hear it. It just spurts forth into the ether.

You might recall the summer’s incident where a viewer couldn’t just walk past a piece of art she didn’t like but complained and set off a chain of events where the exhibited quilt got pulled and then another one by the same maker got pulled etc etc. Outrage on one side and stupidity on the other ensued. Oops did I say that out loud? Sure did.

Anyway, here’s a helpful list of things you might need if you find yourself reacting in more negative ways to some piece of art. This reminds me of a book I have read Pictures & Tears by James Elkins. Most of my readers don’t need this reminder but maybe we need the information to hand out as needed.

You are not meant to like everything you experience. Art is often intended to be challenging, shocking, eye opening or outright uncomfortable.