The Heart of the Matter

 


Here are some rantings.  A little too much for one blog, but this has been long simmering…

The 2016 election seemed to reveal the inhumanity of our fellow citizens.

Narcissism, racism, selfishness, and just plain meanness, won by a landslide.  And a mentally unstable, know-nothing, racist, xenophobic man with a history of sexual assault and fraudulent business deals became our commander-in-chief.

This was not America.

And then I learned, from people I admire and respect, that day-to-day life — as viewed on November 9, 2016 — would not be so different for far too many people when Agent Orange was sworn in. 

  • It would still be dangerous to be African-American in this country — the traffic stops, the arrests for wearing a hoodie, etc.  [I learned that even my classmates from an elite American college were not immune.]  Except even more police officers would walk away from murder charges.
  • People of all colors (other than white) would still be harassed and hounded and taunted.  Except it could be more blatant now.
  • Women would still face gender-bias and harassment in the work place and everywhere else, but it could be more blatant now.  I am in my 50s, so no one grabs at me anymore; it just affects my business generation and income.  [That anyone thinks it is ok to grab another person’s body part without permission is such a clear example of unexamined biases in our society.]
  • Immigrants or perceived immigrants could be told to go back to their countries even if they have always lived here (even if they born here – or brought here as children — and had been here as many generations as the hate-spewing white person).
  • People who blamed others for taking away the jobs they were unqualified to have could rage with abandon.
  • And the ends justify the means. And if it meant that some powerless person was harmed or killed to make otherwise ineffectual white men (mostly) feel empowered, well, all the better.  And these ineffectual white men did not hide it.
  • Neo-Nazis still existed, except they no longer hid behind hoods.

We were, of course, united by the existential threat that the Mango Mussolini would get us blown up by nukes or cause our economy to melt down because of unbridled greed and abject stupidity.

This is not America (but it is).

While I was tortured and devastated, I thought that my life — even as a white, liberal, Jewish lesbian — that would not change, as long as I lived out Trumpism in New York City. 

But the vitriol and the hatred unnerved me.  And the hate crimes surged here.

And I felt powerless.

And then my perception of reality did change.

I would love to say that I resist and march for others.  But that is not true.

I fight for my life, my beliefs and my family legacy.  I own this fight.  And every win is a triumph — if a racist cop is imprisoned, a Trump associate is indicted, a government subsidy to the wealthy is revealed, or a judge smacks down Administration for its Muslim travel bans. Maybe that makes it more real for my compatriots when they look at this middle-age, well-to-do white woman.

Because it is about me.  And about you.  And about you and me.

And standing up is itself a gift.  The Sunday after Rosh HaShanah, there was the Muslim American Day parade.  There were about seven of us who went to hold up the sign:

We were greeted with such love and joy.  I was the one crying from gratitude.  And then we were asked to march in the parade.

So seven New York Jews marched in a parade alongside Muslim Americans whose heritages spanned the globe.  

Everything in my life brought me to that day — my immigrant grandparents, my striver parents who didn’t speak English until first grade, who became upper middle class professionals, through public school education and the GI bill.

I am learning about the America that was and that is.  And I am learning about the necessary work to make good on the promise of America.  Because I want America to be that of my grandparents’ fantasies.  Because I want everyone I know and everyone in my subway car has an equal chance at prosperity, safety, security and health. (Happiness is never guaranteed.)

And then, daily indignities of having Trump as president, backed by the political sewage that is the GOP leadership, gave rise to a “I am too tired to be silent” rage.  And then came the tidal wave that was the culmination of each act of love, patriotism and resistance:

“Me, too” meme that has felled so many (except for the Groper-in-Chief). 

The teetering campaign of Roy Moore, the poster child of ‘America Gone Psycho.”

The clear inability (thank G-d) of the GOP to govern.

The people associated with Trump getting indicted.  

People realizing that taco stands on every corner is an awesome concept. 

The realization that the children of those who are running the stands are the future of American.  Just like my grandfather with his apple stand.  

Also? head scarves are cool.

And then hope came this off-year Election Day.  Democracy could carry the day.  If we stay vigilant and take nothing for granted.  And if we believe that we are all created equal and with inalienable rights to life and prosperity.  Maybe not happiness, but maybe safety in our homes and on our streets from robbers, thieves and agents of local, state and federal government.

And one more wish?

Let that same damn landslide bring them down. (oh, for all the Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists, thanks for taking off your hoods.  Now we know where to find you.)

 

And let’s take a moment to remember:

Because when next our nation sings Hallelujah it will be because we stood up. #ImStillWithHer

 

 

And a Firewall Holds

American exceptionalism is an oxymoron these days. 

Because a moron is in the White House and 63 million people thought that was a good idea.

We are a drifting hulk and striving for steady leadership. Or even a little respite — comic relief — in our search for direction. (Thank you, Justin Trudeau, for your choice of socks on May 4th. May the Fourth always be with you.)

The abject corruption and self-dealing in this White House is so abhorrent and anathema to our 250-ish year-old experience (ok, the Teapot Dome scandal was amateur hour compared to this Administration), that we have no response. 

We keep thinking we are crazy because it can’t be happening, and surely the Congress and Department of Justice would investigate.  Oh, wait, this is the Congress that passed AHCA and a DOJ that imprisoned someone for laughing at Jeff Sessions.

First Brexit and then Agent Orange made the sane among us worry about the portents of a World War II redux.  One in which fascism/nazism would win precisely because 45 is enamored of strongmen and dictators.

If France “fell” to Le Pen and Merkel didn’t do well in local elections, then the conventional wisdom is that the world would devolve into conflict that would end the world.  Because now, as distinct from 1945, many groups have nuclear weaponry.

I believe that conventional wisdom.  And I am grateful for the election of Macron — which meant, for me, that people who love liberty, even for those they may personally despise, won the day — and the shoring up of support for Angela Merkel. 

But we must remain vigilant.

Because no one has to like another person, for any reason or no reason, but all of us must believe in a person’s rights to believe and behave as they do, within the confines of the law.  That means if you beat up someone, you go to jail.  That means if you don’t want “others” in your town, suck it up or move.  It means that you are responsible for your choices and your destiny and there are no scapegoats for your sorry life.

The beauty and reality of a free society. 

These tenets are under siege.  And I will fight for them.

THE REST IS ADDRESSED TO WHITE AMERICA WHO VOTED FOR TRUMP:

I am white, educated, and reasonably well-heeled.  My immigrant grandparents struggled and so did my parents.  And now my siblings and I are successful. We stand on the shoulders of two generations.  And our children will get everything we can give them.

Because we know where we came from.  And the gift that is this nation.

Too many people after too many generations here forget the gift of this nation.  And then chose to despoil it with a con man and grifter.

Let me be clear about something:  if you are white and voted for Trump and you take assistance — food stamps, medicaid, or go to the emergency room for medical care — you are a scourge on the society.  You depend on me for your care.  And that aid ended with the election of Agent Orange.  And I am good with it.  Because immigrants deserve the promise of this country more than those born into it who feel more entitled than grateful.

Maybe Reagan poisoned you with the “welfare mothers driving Cadillacs” which was a whistle call and untrue.  But if you had any self-esteem or any drive, you would have seen through that.  You are lazy and you think white privilege will grease the wheels. 

Would I give you a managerial job if you failed 6th grade?  Are you kidding me?

You are so interested in entitlement reform?  Most of those who receive benefits are white (and Republican).  I am good with it.  I don’t want to pay for you.  You were born with more rights and privilege than anyone else in the world.  If you and your family blew it, it is on you.  And because AHCA was passed, you need me to pay for your ER visits.  Instead of making me pay those taxes to provide those services, I will get a tax break.  Thank Paul Ryan and Agent Orange.

I am tired of you.  Get a job.  Harvest the fields.  Like my grandparents who worked in sweat shops and my parent who did odd jobs from when they were 5 years-old. And studied when they could and learned about the world.

I will contribute my tax savings to people like my parents and grandparents who struggle to make it here so their children will have good lives.

No, I have no sympathy, except for the coal miners who will lose their medical coverage now.  But if they voted for Trump and the Darwinian view of life, then, well . . . .

Don’t cry to me when you are turned away from the ER. 

I voted for Hillary. 

Which meant more taxes for me. 

To take care you and everyone else. 

Because I believe in the promise of America. 

But you don’t believe in that promise.

Because you elected Agent Orange and a Congress that would repeal ACA.

I believe in the sanctity of human life – from inception to the end.  My heart bleeds for every unnecessary death and for every injury or malady that can’t be repaired or remedied.  I can’t even read about a child dying without tearing up.

Oh, and you should know that I am a lesbian raising a child with my partner.

You may think that is a sin and beyond the pale.  And you would be wrong.  We live a life with the same principles as in my parents’ home: work hard, be compassionate, be humble (here is where I fell down), and pay it forward.  I would compare my charitable giving and my civic involvement to make everyone’s life better against 45‘s in real dollars and as a percentage of our incomes.  And have it posted.

But, you and I, we are very different: my family and I take responsibility and work for a better world.  My family and I don’t wallow in what is.  My family and I are forward-looking and seek to heal the world.  The latter a commandment in my religious tradition.  I am not a person of faith, but I believe in the wisdom and directives of our ancients.

And as far as sins go, what you all allowed –i.e., electing 45 — puts you in a Hell that even Jesus didn’t anticipate.  Jesus is on my side.  And you know it.

So, if you obeyed even just these three commandments, how did we get here?

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Don’t bare false witness against thy neighbor.

Do not covet that which is your neighbor’s.

Yeah, I thought so.  You screwed up.

What POTUS didn’t know

In hearings about Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal, Sam Ervin famously asked in an exasperated and a time-to-tell-the-damn-truth tone: 

“What did the President know and when did he know it?”

Today, we have a (way) lower bar.  So low you might not know you are stepping over it.

So we ask:

“How could AGENT ORANGE not know that being POTUS would be hard?”

Trump startled the world by his statement that he didn’t think the presidency would be as hard as his previously cushy life. The one in which he inherited wealth and if he had put it in mutual funds, he would be 10 or more times as wealthy as he is.  Which means he sucks as a businessman.  Be leave that for another blog.

I want to focus on his not thinking that the presidency of the United States would be so hard.

Stupidity in this instance is a high crime and misdemeanor.  In other words, an impeachable offense.

The buck, as Harry Truman famously said, stops at the desk in the Oval Office.

What a president says can move markets, and worse, nuclear warheads.

What a president does can affect industry, employment, climate and international relations.

What a president decides can put our brave military men and women in harm’s way, and can kill innocent civilians.

What a president orders can separate families, divest hard working people of their medical insurance, and wipe out preschool for working parents.

With enormous power, privilege and wealth come profound responsibilities to the citizens of this country, those who live within its borders and the world at large.

Or he can enrich his cronies. Which his tax plan does.

For a president elected by accident, some humility is in order.  And he should stop enriching his businesses by making the government pay for Secret Service to accompany him to his properties.  And he should stop talking about chocolate cake while he bombed an empty air force base in Syria which he thought was Iraq.

And he ought to play less golf.  Because he can’t bluff his way through complicated trade treaties and military alliances.

WARNING TO ALL WHO VOTED FOR AGENT ORANGE:

You deserve to be deported as enemies of the State.  I will take an undocumented person working in the fields or a restaurant kitchen over you.  You don’t deserve the citizenship that is your birthright.  You forfeited that right when you elected Agent Orange.

And for those of you whose family comes from Eastern Europe, I hope you are choking on the Russian scandal.

God bless the United States of America and all of its inhabitants.  May we survive this presidency.

276 girls

http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/09/world/africa/nigeria-abducted-girls/

How is this possible?  There have been decades of atrocities, unbreakable cycles of violence, the world over. Countless children sacrificed to the power struggles over land and its resources.  Nigeria has devolved into chaos.

Legacies of colonialization and Western arrogance.  And backlash.

This is the one case that is gaining international attention.  Because of the brazenness and insanity of the Boko Haram fighters.  How does a militant group, fighting in the name of God, kidnap 276 school girls to sell them into marriage and slavery?

These girls.  These poor girls.  Their poor families.  I cannot imagine what it is to have my child taken from me by lawless gangs who roam with impunity.

This massive kidnapping is about radicalism and the cheapness of human life, in general, and that of a girl’s life, in particular.

And the knowledge of the perpetrators that we, in the United States, will soon turn back to the results of the NFL draft.  And then they can do this again.  And again.  And again.  Until no child is spared from the war crimes.
Our souls, and our beliefs in the sanctity of human life and in the God-given right of a child to realize his or her potential, lie in the balance of our nation’s response to this crisis and others like it across the globe.  Let’s find these girls, airlift them and their families and share the bounty of our nation with them.  It isn’t fair to those left behind, but it is a start.  And, in Jewish theology, it is a person’s moral obligation to save even one life even if one cannot save everyone.

God bless and keep these girls, and keep them safe from more ravages of war.

In the devolution of the species, hope

I was at a meeting outside of city today.  I took a commuter train.  It was exciting for me, the ultimate city dweller.  No, I can’t imagine an everyday commuter thinking this way.  And I was “reverse commuting” so the uncrowded train made it like I was going to spend a day in the country. (Except that I was in a dress and heels.)

Yes, it is ok to roll your eyes at the seen-it-all-yet-wide-eyed New York City girl.

I went to the 125th Street stop because who needs to schlep to Grand Central Station if you live on the Upper West Side?  First thing: look at the landscape and determine that the on-coming train was going in the right direction.  To get my bearings, I noted the Triborough Bridge (ok, the RFK Bridge to those born yesterday).  The sky and views on a Fall morning were in fact spectacular (if you are a city kid, like me).

Then, I had to ask the conductor or engineer (whoEVER) if it was getting on the correct train.  Never, ever, ever, in decades of riding New York subways, have I ever had to ask such a question of train personnel.

But the truth is that for all my New York smarts, I have no confidence that I could navigate the commuting life successfully.  Checking train schedules, timing it just right, missing a train because of subway delays, would send my blood pressure into the stroke zone.

It was a great meeting and a valuable trip.  Business potential, brain engaging projects, blah blah.  A promising day on the road to a working person’s Utopia.  (Where did those days of idealism go? Oh, mortgage and tuition.  Right.)

And then.

After our day long meeting, an assistant at the company drove me the three steps to the train station.  (I am exaggerating; it is a FIVE minute walk.)  She was so gracious and insistent and I was wearing heels, that I couldn’t refuse the offer and the hospitality.

We were having a lovely conversation on the way down to the parking lot and through the quaint suburban streets.   A crazy driver with his (I assume) family nearly sideswiped us (at the time, I couldn’t help but think the road aggression was personal), as he tried to barrel ahead through non-existent traffic.  Then he started to weave on town streets (but not drunkenly so), only to come up beside us and yell:

“Snapperhead!”

Whaaat?  I never heard that word before.

“Well, that was unpleasant,” my gracious host replied.

“What does that even mean? I have never heard that before.”

“It is a derogatory word for Korean.”

Whoa.  Did I imagine the earlier aggression? Was he gunning for her?

“Can I get out and beat him with my heels?”

I was so mad and so outraged at this man with a child in the back seat saying such a thing, TEACHING such a thing, that I was ready to fight hate with violence.  And that is the wrong way to change hearts and minds but it would have felt really good, especially since he was getting ready to drive away and I only had a few seconds to deliver a message.  And I thought a “FUCK YOU” message was the least I could do.

“I have heard worse and the really sad thing is that there is a child in the car who will learn from him.”

“I know.  I get that.  And I am sorry that about my outburst about beating him with my heels.  That is not the answer.”

“I get called names a lot.  It hurts but I don’t let it get me down.”

That stunned me.  A lot?  What is happening to this country?

“I sort of get that, in a small way.” But really the only reason I, an otherwise white, privileged woman, get it is because I am gay.  So, I continued, “I am gay and the hateful things people have shouted at me when I least expect it is so much harder for me because my guard is down.  Here we are having a very funny conversation, and someone spews hate out his window.  What a misguided coward.”

“Now,” my new friend said, “I don’t get that discrimination. . . .”

I was shocked.  How do you think of others in this situation?  My new friend has a kind and gentle soul  Our conversation continued as to how to undo and prevent these types of prejudices.  I was almost late for my train.

In the midst of suburban quaintness, immense wealth and potential deal-making, there converged narrow-minded ugliness and the resilience of the derided person’s sense of humanity and justice.

And a moment shared between two women of different backgrounds, cultures, economic classes, and races, who have both been bruised by prejudice, albeit to different degrees.

That was moment that turned a good day into a great day.  And filled an otherwise cynical New Yorker with hope.

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

[For the song, “Mrs. Robinson”:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C1BCAgu2I8]

Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?
Our nation turns [our frightened] eyes to you.  (Woo woo woo.)

Once we believed that our political and sports heroes could save us our innocence and our dreams from the stark realities of war, assassinations and a nation divided.

We looked to them — to Joe after Marilyn’s death, to Jackie after JFK’s assassination, to Coretta after Rev. Dr. MLK’s assassination — to steady us.  To remind us of better times and take us past the tragedies.  To take us back to a winning baseball team, to Camelot, to a place where dreams were possible.

God bless you, please, [this America].
Heaven holds a place for those who pray.
(Hey, hey, hey.)

Today, I am scared.  Because we are a nation so bitterly divided.  Because my dreams are ever less fanciful, my reality ever less comforting, my hopes and expectations ever lower, than just a week, month or year ago.

And there are no heroes, but where is there a parent who wants to tell that to his/her children?

Most of all you’ve got to hide it from the kids.

What is the embodiment of my fears?  Heritage Action for America scuttled any potential deal on the debt ceiling in the House of Representatives.  Because lawmakers are taking their cues from lobbyists-thinktanks-donors and not their frightened constituents.  That very action breaks the very foundation of our nation — representational government.

Laugh about it, shout about it
When you’ve got to choose
Every way you look at this you lose.

And all that people have worked for, and saved for, and paid taxes for, hangs in the balance.  Because we, the people, are pawns in a power grab.

WE, THE PEOPLE.

We whom our government serves.

WE, THE PEOPLE.

About whom no one seems to care.

WE, THE PEOPLE.

Joltin Joe has left and gone away (hey hey hey).  It isn’t the same to turn our frightened eyes to A-Rod.

Marbles

Mom and Dad always taught us that if you lose, you lose with dignity.  You don’t take your marbles and stomp off.

Except I never played marbles and I had no idea what they were talking about.  Just like my son doesn’t understand the phrase, “you sound like a broken record.”

But, eventually, I got the point.  If you lose fair and square, then you congratulate the winner and move on.  You don’t try to pretend the game never happened or that the winner cheated or that you were robbed of the trophy.

Unless, of course, you are part of the Tea Party.  Then you think that G-d is your co-pilot and that Barack Obama is not a legitimate president because, well, how could we elect a black man and no black man was ever born in the State of Hawaii.  (SIDEBAR:  Ted Cruz, you were born in Canada and had dual citizenship until a week ago.)

Let’s be fair.  We have had presidents who ascended to the highest office in the land under a cloud.  The “elections” of John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush come to mind.

But the Tea Party did not mind George W. Bush being president.  Hmmmmmmm.

Maybe because they “won”?  Hey, I remained an ordinary, law abiding citizen and patriot even through the terrible years of Bush/Cheney.  And I did not think they were duly elected, but the Supreme Court spoke.

I didn’t take my marbles and stomp off.  But, now the Tea Party is mad because Barack Obama is president, and a legitimate president.

But the government shut down and the debt ceiling should not be about one man and his health care reform and his birth certificate. 

These issues are about the people you all pretend to care about.

This is America and the majority spoke.  Be patriots.  Show the world that this is your country, come what may. Come on, I dare you, Tea Party members of Congress.

Put country first.

Hey, I am as liberal as they come and I say to you, “Less government? ok.  No government? Anarchy.”

And anarchy is treason.

And so are breaching the public trust and the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

And then you will see citizens like me  — middle-aged, economically secure (or so we thought) taxpayers — take to the streets and scream for your heads because you let our nation default.

So, before you smugly take your marbles and stomp off, remember, if you let our nation default —-

then you are no better than Benedict Arnold, betraying your country and fellow citizens and playing roulette with the total collapse of the republic.  

The hangman awaits.  Your move.

And the FOS Award goes to . . . .

Before I tell you about the award and the winner, there is (of course) a back story:

It begins in WWII, when American Jews were angry with FDR for not bombing the railroad tracks to the concentration camps.  Let’s be honest, in 1945, no one really liked Jews.  And the war was not to save Jews, but to stop a tyrant’s domination of a continent.

Before that war, there was the annihilation of Armenians at the hands of Turks.  No one said anything.

And before that, so many atrocities dating to the Crusades and earlier.

And, a thousand years of slavery.

And, then, so much that it is impossible to list.

And, the the brutality of colonialism.

And then, the United States used Napalm against civilians in Vietnam.  CHEMICAL WEAPONS.  Our use inspired the international treaty against using such heinous weapons.

Fast forward to the atrocities in Africa.

And the mess in the former Yugoslavia.   President Clinton ordered the bombings of the bridges leading to those death camps.

And then President George H. W. Bush who took a moral and geopolitical stand against Iraq and its use of chemical warfare against its neighbors.  GHWB showed American willingness to smack down an ally who commits atrocities with weapons that we sold to it.

And then there was the Shrub, the little Bush, who didn’t find chemical weapons in Iraq (those reviled WMDs), because they had been transported to Syria.  But we destroyed that country anyway.

And no one called George W. Bush an amateur or a waffler or a liar or a cheat.  And he led us into a war with no strategery (his word) for the way out, let alone a reason to go in.

And, atrocities occur every day, all over the world, in every corner.  Most particularly against the children, women and the enfeebled — those who have the least power in society.

So, here we are with Syria, under a credible threat of force from the United States, telling the world that it has chemical weapons and agreeing to disarm.  And Russia is taking the lead, as Syria’s ally, to make sure that America doesn’t bomb Syria.  Pretty good outcome so far — an admission that eluded GWB, an effort to dismantle Syria’s WMDs, as the US armed forces are on stand-by if anyone doesn’t deliver on promises made.  Others are doing the work because a bombing mission would shake Russia’s influence and bring down Russia’s ally in the region.

Not a bad outcome for “amateur” President Obama.  But no one gives him credit [this is for another blog]

And yet, all I hear from the pundits is: how the President faring politically and whether it will affect his domestic agenda, and how there is no reason for us to stop the use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Ok, this is not about a president.  This is about children.  It is not about politics.  It is about whether or not, to use a “quaint” analogy, to bomb railroad tracks to death camps.

I don’t know the right answer.  I don’t think there is one.

But this I know:

If you thought that FDR should have bombed the tracks leading to Auschwitz and you don’t support saving children from lethal gas, you have lost your moral authority;

if you ever thought that Napalm was one of the most heinous acts against humanity, sit down and shut up because you have lost your moral argument;

if you wanted George W. Bush to go into Iraq, G-d help you because you have no moral judgment and should “self-deport”;

if you are a “Progressive” in today’s politics, you have no backbone, and if you are a GOP hawk, you are just saying no because Obama is president, so you wouldn’t know a backbone if your doctor showed it to you on an xray;

if you say that there is misery and brutality the world over and why are we not protecting civilians in Africa, you have an excellent point;

if you don’t care about Syrian children and civilians (or Afghanis, or Kurds or African tribes), I ask, (paraphrasing the great Rabbi Hillel) if you are only for yourself, who are you?

if you say that there are too many risks to this action, when we have soldiers the world over, I ask (against paraphrasing the great Rabbi Hillel) if not now, then when?

And so, the Full of Shit (FOS) award goes to . . . . all of us, from the UN to Geneva to Oslo, from Wall Street to Main Street to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, from MSNBC to CNN to FOX, from me to you.  I don’t know what the right answer is, but I know we are asking all the wrong questions.

The right questions take guts and require that we talk about who we are and what we are willing to sacrifice (in lives and taxes) to do all the things we say we ought to do, until the moment comes for action. 

May G-d bless the children of Syria, the children of all countries and, please, let them no longer be the fodder of war, the currency of politics, and the blind spot of the world.

Please watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmux0xmrXUU

Hope and Change

Yom Kippur ended just two hours ago.  Jews fast on Yom Kippur as a part of penance and as a sign of the solemnity of the Holy Day.  And as part of our petition to G-d to save our lives and inscribe us in the Book of Life for the coming year.

The fast is from sundown to sundown.  Actually, it is longer.  It starts when you last eat before you rush to synagogue to get good seats (our egalitarian synagogue does not have assigned seating) until you eat again the next night — at least 25 hours later, when there are three stars in the sky.  But really, this is New York.  You can’t see stars and you can’t immediately break the fast. First you have to push people into the street to steal the cab and make your way to your break-fast meal.  Because no time like the present to start sinning again and, if you are going to start, you need to do it in a spectacular way, like stealing that cab from people who, only minutes ago, you hugged and kissed and wished a happy and healthy Jewish New Year.

But, I digress.

SOS wanted to fast this year.  He is only 11 years-old and I was not a fan of his fasting so young.  He was determined, and at points during the day, miserable to be around.  But he was steadfast and resisted my entreaties to eat.  He spent the whole day in synagogue with us, until the Shofar (ram’s horn) blew at 8pm, ending the Holy Day and the fast.  We didn’t start eating until after 9pm.

As we walked to the restaurant for our break-fast meal, SOS said, “I won’t survive another minute!!”

“Sweetie, I promise you will.  You are hungry but you won’t expire.  Some people live like this.”

“E-Mom, do you know that there are so many kids like me who live in the City  and go to sleep hungry?  I have never felt this hungry before.  This is horrible.”

“Can you imagine being this hungry and going to sleep at night or having to go to school?”

SILENCE.

SOS gripped my hand tighter.

“We have to do something about this.”

HOPE AND DREAMS OF THE NEXT GENERATION.

Life Inside the Bubble

(I will get to SOS’s visiting day SOON)

My mind has been all over the map.  I visited SOS at an idyllic summer camp, where his best friends are all shapes, sizes, colors, religions, athletes, mathletes, geeks and jocks (ok, quasi jocks).  Yet, the preponderance is white and Jewish, let’s not get carried away.

We drove home that night back to New York City because of ULOB’s condition.  The night has a mournful quality, mused POB.

It was particularly mournful.  On the highway, in the darkening day that gave way to night, I thought about Trayvon Martin and my son.

I don’t know much about the facts (if any) that came out in the case (as opposed to the media) and I didn’t listen very closely to the proceedings.

Why?

Because if the police tell a man who says he is afraid of an “interloper” to stay in his car, and he gets out and goes after the ‘interloper” with a gun, and the “interloper” dies, there is no question that the first man is not only criminally responsible for the death of the “interloper” but, in this case, of felony racism.

It never occurred to me that George Zimmerman would go free.

Not because I don’t have “ist” tendencies — we all do.  But because in my world, I have learned so much from my child and his friends.  Children can teach their parents about life and community, if only parents wouldn’t poison them with prejudice.

Children don’t naturally draw lines; they just want to play with whomever wants to play with them.

But they feel societal “norms” in their bones.  So, when my son was 7, he was having a play date with his best friend, and said to us:  “I just want you to know that he is bi-racial.”  OK, SOS is being raised by two moms. We couldn’t care less. Meanwhile, up in Riverdale, his best friend was telling his parents, “Just want to let you know that [SOS] has two moms.”  And they are a biracial couple and they didn’t care about our sexual orientation.  In fact, we parents are friends, simply because we like each other and we have fun together WITHOUT THE KIDS.

Both sets of parents called each other and immediately giggled and then sighed at our boys who are leading the way.  Our children opened up a way to discuss differences in a way that helped their parents.

“Teach your children well, and their fathers’ hell will slowly go by … “

And sometimes I forget that two generations — including mine — have to die out before our children can make the decisions.

And then Trayvon’s death makes us remember. 

And let’s focus on this young man’s tragic death.  A young man, who died not on the battlefields of Afghanistan with the condolences of a grateful nation, but in a silent and unacknowledged skirmish along race lines.

Did he smoke pot? I don’t know and I don’t care and, hell, I did.  Did he do some bad things? I don’t know and I don’t care and, hell, I did.  But I got a free pass (or six or seven). Why do you think?

Trayvon was a kid.   Did he hit Zimmerman? Hell, I don’t know and I don’t care and, hell, I would, if I got the better of someone after me with a gun.  I would have beat the guy with all my might. I would have kiiled him.

Let’s imagine the worst, and Trayvon was doing something bad.  Trayvon was shot dead. If I were shot dead (and doing something misdemeanor-ish), Zimmerman would be in jail or on death row.

BUT THE PITY OF IT ALL IS THAT WE HAVE TO IMAGINE THE WORST OF TRAYVON.  IF TRAYVON WAS A WHITE , DARTMOUTH FRAT BOY NAMED TREY (OR TRIP), THE ENTIRE POLICE DEPARTMENT WOULD HAVE BEEN FIRED AND THERE WOULD BE A WHOLE CAMPAIGN TO WIPE OUT NON-LICENSED SECURITY SERVICES.

Close your eyes.  And don’t think about the fact that Trayvon is black.  You know the answer.  The same damn answer that has plagued generations.  But, PLEASE, let’s not poison our children who have a real chance not to repeat this travesty.

If George Zimmerman has the right to be judge, jury and executioner, then we all have that right and Zimmerman should be very afraid.  As should we all because then society is irretrievably broken.

Trayvon was a young man — a kid — why did he have to die?

A young man a little older than my son died violently.  And the killer went free.

A killer went free. 

Four words that indict our society.  And the victim was a young person with a life ahead of him, full of hopes, dreams, disappointments, and we hope happiness and success (as he saw it).  Like any of us.

We enabled this to happen.  Look in the damn mirror. 

We should all turn ourselves into local precincts.

Every child is simply too precious to lose to this kind of travesty.