Freedom and Fireworks

July 4, 2021

On this particular July 4th 2021, I get a feeling that America is on shaky ground. Voting rights are being hobbled in many states. White supremist are becoming bolder. ‘Freedom fighters’ and faux patriots are ramping up their militia to do harm in many ways. Democracy is being challenged even in the halls of Congress where insurrectionists smeared feces on the walls during the January 6th invasion.

Meanwhile one-third of the population refuse to get inoculated against the COVID virus. Climate change is here to stay with extreme heat, cold and wet. Power grids are failing, buildings are collapsing and the ocean is on fire.

This is not negative b***s***, it’s the truth!

A friend of mine posted this Langston Hughes poem today. I read Langston Hughes way back in college in 1967. It’s hard hitting and poignant. Fits my mood today perfectly. Yes, it’s long. Just give yourself a minute of enlightenment and read it.

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

When the fireworks in your neighborhood wake you in the middle of the night tonight, say a prayer for our nation. Then decide what you can do to help make America be a place for the good of all it’s citizens.


Damn the Fireworks and Pass the Black-eyed Peas

January 2, 2021

New Year’s Eve in San Antonio sounds like a war zone. Sleep is disturbed, our pets run under the bed or cower in a closet. But this year, I didn’t curse the noise, or even what I’m sure was some gunfire as well. I was hearing it as a proclamation that 2020 was done and the possibilities of a better year are on the horizon.

Five suggestions for the New Year

Here in Texas, we eat our Black-eyed peas for good luck. I think it works, I forgot mine last year and look what happened!

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: means stop buying stuff from Amazon or anywhere except thrift or reuse stores; make interesting meals from left-overs; repurpose things around the house. Some great ideas for materials reuse are on the Spare Parts webpage.

2. Do some yoga. There are lots of resources online. I personally use the chair/standing classes available on the Silver Sneakers Facebook page. You don’t have to be a member to view the videos. Also take a walk everyday outside if you can.

3. Find activities that give you joy. Modify or quit doing those that don’t.

4. Appreciate what you have. Help others however you can. Pray for those in need.

5. Wear your mask when you go out.