Peace, baby, peace!

I never see a red geranium where it doesn’t bring to me memories of my childhood and visiting my maternal grandparents home. My grandparents always had potted red geraniums sitting on their front porch. Hence, each time I see a red geranium, I am transported back to a time and place in my life where I had absolutely no awareness of the workings of a government and how it can affect and even control ones life. This colorful flower brings to mind a time when my whole world revolved around a family axis where I felt loved and secure with a strong sense of belonging.

Thinking back now, I realize that I have never been “political” in my life. I have always voted, and my vote was dependent on what I saw on the local news. That was about it. That said, I have to also say that staying home for 7 months in the year 2020 has given this retired person a LOT of time in which to research everything I have ever wondered about, and I have learned SO much!

In a conversation with a friend the other day, we were talking about coming of age in the 1960’s when the Vietnam war was raging. Woodstock (during the so called “summer of love”) was the place to be if you were a young person in 1968. There used to be a saying that if you remember Woodstock, you weren’t there! That statement applies to me. I remember hearing about Woodstock but this old soul was not interested in attending. My contribution to the era of “peace, love and rock and roll” was wearing hip huggers with bell bottoms paired with a lot of colorful paisley print tops. I wore platform shoes and greeted everyone with the two fingered peace sign everywhere I went. I enjoyed feeling young, cute, and part of a generation that was out to save the world.

As my friend and I were comparing the politics of today to the politics back then, I told her that I just do not remember seeing or experiencing the enormous amount of hate and destruction that we are seeing now. I DO remember the very heated civil rights movement of the times and JFK being assassinated and it was shocking. Our school Superintendent brought all of us together into an assembly to watch the news and in that act alone, we were made aware of the enormity of it. JFK’s tragic assassination was followed by Martin Luther Kings assassination and finally, R.F.K.’s assassination as well. It left Americans in a dazed and frightened state of mind. We found ourselves wondering what horrible thing would happen next. I was impacted by the seriousness of the assassinations but it all seemed more “surreal” to me than real, like so,etching out of a very bad movie! In 1969, Richard M. Nixon became president. Ohio astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. In Los Angeles, the cult of Charles Manson went on a two-night murderous rampage. In New York, 400,000 people showed up at a New York farm for the Woodstock music festival. I can remember when the Kent State shootings in 1970 horrifically ending what initially began as a peaceful anti war protest. Vietnam War protests were going on in Minneapolis, as well, at the same time I was working as a young nurse at the University of Minnesota Hospital system. Because I worked long hours at the hospital, I did not have the time to participate in any protest. While others were out there acting as political activists, I was taking care of very ill patients.I said to my friend, “So, in remembering the long and violent history of the 60’s why does everything seem so much more terrible and intense now than it was back then?”

She said, “Well, I think it is because in those days the news was limited to morning and evening, whereas now we have a 24 hour, 7 days a week cycle of news and there is no getting away from it. The shelter in place order and social media only intensifies what we are seeing and hearing.”

Her statement stopped me in my tracks because, of course, she is right! These days we are surrounded by the Main Stream Media news and until recent times I tended to believe what I heard because I grew up in a day and age where a persons word was their honor and we lived in a time when the news was factual, not biased. Hence, I thought that if it was on the news, it must be true! This is just not the case anymore. So much of what we hear and see in this day and age is not journalistic news. What used to be journalism has morphed into biased opinion pieces with a lot of rancor attached.

I have been doing a lot of research since living “shelter in place” and I have spent hours upon hours and entire days sifting through all kinds of information from Theologians, Historians, Scientists, Doctors of Medicine, both Conservative and Liberal views and what I have found has disturbed me.

What I have discovered is that in this day and age most Americans have their own version of the “truth”. How I view the world is colored by the information I receive and how you view things is colored by the information you receive and often it is two entirely different versions!

What is very disturbing to me is witnessing our National Leaders on all sides fighting non-stop and it seems we have more dishonesty than honesty running rampant in our upper level of government on ALL sides. There has been no compromise, no thoughtful debate, no civil discourse. Sometimes I wonder if we are following the same path that the Roman Empire walked and we know how that turned out for them. As a result of being saturated by the daily onslaught of negativity, many American citizens are following the same pattern! People have decided which “side” they are on and they feel they need to prove their point to others. It is especially sad when friends or family members begin to challenge each other. (What ever happened to privately voting for our personal choice?) When we add all of this to the “shelter in place” mandate we feel like we are being fed a toxic stew that is slowly poisoning all of us.

Despite the fact that our American life feels like it is on fire and under attack, I remind myself daily that what I really must FOCUS on are the blessings, because all of this mayhem feels like spiritual warfare to me. I choose to focus on what God can do for us rather than what Satan is dishing up. I believe we must care for one another despite our differences and we need to understand that the differences between us are in place to teach each other lessons in life! We can agree to disagree and be grateful if we can still manage to appreciate or even save the friendship for what it once was and still can be.For sanity’s sake, WE have created a rule for ourselves and for when we are with our family and friends, and it is that we no longer discuss politics with anyone! We want to keep the relationships we have formed over the years and we recognize that to do this, there are simply some topics that are off limits…money, religion and politics for starters!

While I realize it is important to keep myself informed of national and world events, I also understand how limited the power is that I have over any of it! Voting and praying are huge in their power and I plan to do both! Other than that, as we go forward, I will consciously take in each moment of each day with the understanding that the true daily gift of an ordinary life is a blessing to me!

jjb/10/8/2020

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