Archive for the ‘current events’ Category

Concern, not alarm

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

photo by scol22My hypochondria is flaring up.

Every morning I turn on New York One, the NYC news channel, just to make sure the world is still there. I get online and check Facebook, my favorite blogs, and the major news headlines. So I heard about the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico early last week, and I felt a little tickle in my throat.

The next day I heard there were a few cases in Texas and California. Slight headache.

And on Friday, I turned on the tv to learn that a bunch of high school students in Queens – some of whom had just been to Mexico – had all gone home with the flu. Like, 75 of them.

I sneezed.


Barack Obama makes me cry

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

barack_obamaDuring President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech, I sobbed. It wasn’t just a tear or two, rolling down my cheek. I positively bawled.

Listening to him speak, reading what he has said or written, or even just looking at photos of him, always makes me cry. It’s a little frustrating. I know he’s just a man, and he’s not perfect. I just wish I could listen to him speak without needing a tissue.

Mostly these are tears of joy. He’s a Democrat, he’s a good man, the election was uncontested. He makes sense when he speaks, and he doesn’t talk down to us. He’s inspiring, calm, and visionary.

They’re also tears of exultation, that the racial barrier has been broken in my lifetime.

And they are tears of simple relief, that we finally have a president who respects science, the environment, human rights, and other countries’ sovereignty. We have a long way to go, but finally, we have hope. That feels good, but somehow, it hurts, too.

Because partly, these are tears of grief. It’s been a long eight years, and a long time since I felt proud of my country and my president.

George W. Bush did a lot of damage, within this country and around the world. I don’t want to go into a litany of everything he’s done wrong. It would take too long, and better minds have done it. Bush himself believes history will exonerate him; I think history will damn him.

And I know there are people out there who want President Obama to fail, so they can be right. That makes me cry, too. I never wanted Bush to fail. To be arrested, maybe. But why would I want the leader of my country to fail? His failures hurt all of us, as we’ve seen these last eight years.

We have all suffered for so long. And now we have a president who is a true leader and a true uniter, and who believes in the Constitution, and in the ideals this country was founded on.

I don’t know what to call this emotion, but it’s bigger than I am. It makes me cry.

The gay marriage thing – part 1

Monday, January 5th, 2009

One of the most common arguments against gay marriage is the notion that allowing same-sex couples to marry means “redefining” what marriage is: a sacred contract between one man and one woman.

My favorite irony is that the Bible is full of polygamy, and incest to boot. Defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman who are not closer than second cousins is a very different definition of marriage from what is in the Bible. And there are lots of other rules in there that don’t make sense any more, like the ones against eating shellfish and wearing clothing with mixed fibers. Not to mention the fact that not everyone believes the Bible is law.

One good thing about all this controversy is that a whole new crop of people gets an opportunity to understand that it’s about their own personal distaste for something that doesn’t actually warrant it. Just like people used to loathe the idea of a racially mixed marriage. They made up all kinds of reasons why it was “wrong,” reasons which sound just like what some people are saying about gay marriage. Really, what it came down to was a prejudice which they had been taught.

Tom and Helen WillisI think I was about ten years old when I was watching “The Jeffersons” on tv one day. On the show, Tom and Helen Willis, the interracial couple from upstairs, were sitting on the couch in George and Weezy’s apartment, and at one point, they turned and kissed each other on the lips. For no reason I can pinpoint – just a personal tipping point – all of a sudden I noticed that I was looking at them with distaste. That’s just wrong, I was thinking. And for the first time, it occurred to me to ask, Why? I had been taught to hate and fear black people, certainly, but in mostly subtle ways. And, I had been taught that racism was wrong. These two ideas collided in my head and what came out was, What the heck? Why was I thinking that? There is no reason!

This is happening all the time, right now. With the race thing, the gay thing, with all kinds of things. Maybe some 10 year old is watching a “Will & Grace” rerun right now, having the same experience. This is one of those things that’s getting better all the time, and my brothers and sisters… I know it’s hard to wait. But it’s coming. The times they are a-changin’, constantly.