It was the early 1970’s. We were all angry. About the war and the draft, about gender inequity that stalled every woman’s career, about the gas lines due to the oil crisis in the middle east, about the crippling inflation, about having to wear ties or even bras. We grew our hair long, listened to album length tracks, questioned those in authority, forced a resignation from a corrupt President, and sat out in student strikes all across this great nation. Resistance happened from family’s living room to the illustrious Senate floor. My own father, who worked his way up from the floor boards of poverty faced a mob every night at dinner with his young adults who questioned his authority, his decisions, his motives, even his tomorrow. Thankfully for us under his care he came to value our resistance. Not easily. It meant he had to listen. Temper his own self. See the big picture. He too questioned. Sought truth. He read the newspapers, listened to other’s opinions, remembered history, and understood the value of debate. Where is that America? Where is the freedom of speech we wave about when we think it will benefit us? Anger we have, but let the voices ring.
Church was like my foot. It was always there and my mother made sure we were properly scrubbed up for the event. Nothing prevented our going. Even when my father announced that until the Catholics returned to Latin he would not attend mass, we did. Even when the entire hour became an uncomfortable ritual of handshakes and peace kisses, we went.
This country. This #America gone #hashtag #crazy yet stalled so fucking bad in Washington that even the Senator’s families don’t live there anymore. Just fly in and fly out to cast their party-driven vote. This America. A jumble of contradiction at every turn. Wide rural vistas divided by pristine forests and muddy rivers. Farmland rich with harvest promise. Yeah, promise. But that’s a lily-white view tarnished once one passes under a big-mother Confederate flag flying with bravado, (yeah, sadly we saw those) or an oversized Trump billboard (crazy, but yeah, saw those too) promoting all the trappings of White Supremacy with his sneer. That sneer. Sickeningly an advocate of hatred. (Will anyone really be able to vote for that world, his world of hate?) After our recent 14 State and 4,500 mile drive-by, and the current racially driven atrocities, it is clear to this blogger that the veneer of the American Dream is wearing thin, if not for all of us, at least for the Other in this country.
When did it all start, this pronouncement of this 8 letter word as a 4 letter one? When did feminism become profanity? Perhaps as far back as the publication of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman? Penned by the 18th-century British writer, Mary Wollstonecraft, this text puts forth a seemingly basic concern: equal education and opportunity, and access to reproductive rights, for all. Interestingly, the tenants of feminism have remained virtually the same ever since. While the French were fighting their own countrymen for “liberty, equality, fraternity,” Wollstonecraft declared, “It would be an endless task to trace the variety of meannesses, cares, and sorrows, into which women are plunged by the prevailing opinion, that they were created rather to feel than reason, and that all the power they obtain, must be obtained by their charms and weakness.” Ah, if only the French had considered women on their political platform! For when we acknowledge the steady march of Kardashians across our senseless screens, we could mourn that nothing much has changed in two hundred years. The charm of nothingness abounds in our current culture.
The Ohio River cuts across the top of Kentucky, flowing by Louisville (at its widest and its deepest), and capturing my attention as I stroll along just about sunset. Today this river divides Kentucky from Indiana. Yesterday this river divided free states from slave states. I see history coursing past me as I face day’s end.
Writers avoid writing. There is always something more pressing or entertaining or distracting than sitting in the stillness to pound out the words racing inside one’s head. Always. That is until those words get so thick and fanciful or loud and obnoxious, growing exponentially inside your head, until you feel, in the most visceral way, that unless you pound them onto your screen you will know no peace.
Today is that day. Racing words are forcing me to write because ever since August 28th there has been too many to ignore. Why August 28th? Well, that date is remembered as the greatest March on Washington; on the recent anniversary, President Obama stood on the same steps as Martin Luther King, Jr. and reminded us that 50 years ago King “gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions; how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike.”