I will remember this day for the rest of my life: November 8, 2016, which will be etched in my memory just as much as January 20th, 2009, the day Barack Obama became the first Black American to be elected President. On that January day, my father and I sat next to each other in the gym, multi-purpose room of Shiloh Baptist Church, watching the Inauguration ceremony while tears copiously streamed down our faces. Dad passed away on August 29, 2016. Even though I'm still very much in grief, I'm also grateful that he isn't here right now to witness the absolute madness that has taken place in this country since Donald J. Trump acquired the necessary electoral votes to be elected President of the United States, in spite of the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. God help us all. And I won't be watching the inauguration.
As some readers of this highly erratically posted blog may know, I am a member of the Baha'i Faith, there are thoughts, behaviors and actions that Baha'is are asked to immerse themselves so that we can better serve this planet and its people. The exemplar of the qualities that we Baha'is are supposed to acquire is 'Abdu'l-Baha', the eldest son of the Baha'i Faith's founder, Baha'u'llah. 'Abdu'l-Baha' represents many of the best qualities of a person. Unfortunately for me and Baha'is, this makes following His example more than extraordinarily difficult. As a citizen of the United States of American, I have long cherished the tradition of being critical of and, best of all, satirizing politicians. Come on, this has been going on in the United States for centuries, and even longer in the United Kingdom, where even royalty have been the favorite targets of cartoonists' lampoons. But Baha'is are to say nothing about politicians, except to praise them (I'm paraphrasing; I can't seem to find the exact quote.) Praise them? That's just...un-American, right?
No. It's being a good citizen of the world.
Well, it does make sense, and I have seen how political discussions can definitely to some very ugly displays of human beings' alarming treatment of other people who have differing opinions. For me, several issues of supreme importance to me, i.e. racism, sexism, corporatocracy, global warming, affordable health care, etc. has been irresistible to my innate battle-prone Aries spirit, although I feel my mentor in arms, English professor emeritus Marc Bertanasco, should take some of the credit. He not only fervently believes that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, but he also unleashed hordes of ninja pen warriors, or as he called us, assassins with pens. (The pen is not literal, folks. Even the good professor recognized that some weapons become obsolete over time.) This election has drawn me into ninja pen warrior mode. But then, I started noticing how many social media battles were exploding uncontrollably, even amongst Baha'is. Finally, I got it. We've been warned against doing this. And we are indulging behaviors that are wholly unacceptable God and ALL of His Manifestations.
There are personal consequences to putting down my metaphorical battle axe. My parents trained me in the art of war, and rightfully so. They were both members of the United States Air Force, although Mom got out after getting married to Dad. Both of them approached battles in different ways. Dad was cool and quiet. "You never pull out a weapon until you already have your target sighted." He did teach me and my sister Tam to shoot, but unknown to anyone at the time, I have a spatial perception disability. That doesn't work out very well when there's a revolver in your hand and you are shooting just about everything BUT the target. (See why I chose a battle axe for my metaphorical weapon? I know my perceptional limits.) Dad's message to me, Tam, and later on, our little brother Ricky, was simple: stay calm, alert and never let the enemy (whoever that may be) see you coming. That works on a metaphorical level, too.
Mom's approach was different. She was the consummate lady warrior. No vulgarities ever crossed her lips. She didn't need to cuss. She could totally disarm anyone with her precise, very logical arguments that never exceeded the "Ladies' Manual for Shutting Down Arguments" approved volume levels. I NEVER saw anyone defeat her in an argument, and that includes my father. From her, I learned how to cut someone down to their knees without cussing or shouting. But I could only do that in short intervals. I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie with a typical Aries temper. I have a fixed amount of patience that is no longer than ten minutes in ladylike behavior mode. I don't cuss very much. But my shouting volume levels reach just below the sonic boom of jet fighters. (You think I'm kidding? Ask my sister or my now adult children.)
So I am in a lot grief right now. Obviously, I miss my parents, who gave me the space to explore certain aspects of my personality as long as I didn't embarrass them too much. I didn't always appreciate that growing up because I wanted to break through those limitations. What's wrong with climbing to the top of a pine tree? (Ouch. Falling on the ground REALLY HURTS!) And I never got into trouble for beating up boys who thought they could scare me into submission, and girls who bullied other girls and thought they could do the same to me. I learned about politics and history from my father while we had dinner and watched the evening news from the dining room table. I still remember how upset Dad got when the Watergate scandal was in the news. He asked us very detailed questions about Nixon, Agnew, and so many of the other players in the game. Mom didn't like those discussions; she thought they were topics that shouldn't be discussed over dinner because it would upset our fragile digestion systems.. Dad ignored her and fired questions at us kids anyway. I'm glad he did. He taught me that, as George Clinton says, "Thinking ain't illegal yet!"
This is what I'm leaving behind: my metaphorical battle axe, the adrenaline rush of a prospective battle, talking about politics and politicians with family and friends. Once again, I'm standing on the precipice of another beginning in my life, and feeling all of the grief of letting go of parts of me so that there's enough room for the new. People say I'll feel better eventually. All I know right now is that feeling sad because I won't get my daily dose of adrenaline sucks.
Parting shot: check out these links.