I used to read that psychologists and scientists who were developing drugs would use cats in their experiments because, psychologically, cats have some traits similar to those of humans.
As I am observing my two cats, I wonder what we can learn today.
Background: One of our cats, Sister, was in a litter born out in the woods surrounding our house. We think the father was the gray tabby whom we fed but who never would let us come near him. We named him Jeff. The mother was a pastel calico we just called Mama Cat. One kitten, whom we named Cory, for “Wrong Way Corrigan,” was left behind crying behind our house when Mama Cat moved the litter. My son trapped him with tuna, he was dewormed, and he became an indoor cat. He actually was afraid of the outside. Later, Mama Cat returned with the rest of the litter and nursed them in our front yard for a long time. She became friendly enough to feed and pet. Then the only one left was a pastel calico kitten we named Sister. We had two indoor cats (from shelters), and Sister did not want to come in while they were there. After they died, she came in, checked the place out, and stayed; but she went outside daily through a cat flap. She is what our vet, Critter Fixer Country Vet Ver nard Hodges, calls “a very vocal cat.”
After about seven years, we heard a kitten crying under the car that I had covered and wasn’t using very often. Another cat checked on it now and then, but the kitten stayed under the car. We fed it. Finally, Cory went to the back door and meowed and meowed, and the kitten, who is a small, smooth-furred, gray-striped cat, came in. She didn’t trust us a bit. She and Cory became friends, and Sister did not like her. Pounce was spayed, she recuperated in a spare bedroom wearing a collar, I fed her, and she began to want me to pet her a little. Now she’s domesticated, though both she and Sister disappear when we have company.
This year, Cory died of stomach cancer, so now the only two cats inside, and allowed to go outside, are Sister and Pounce. Sister became overweight during the time we were trying to get Cory to eat, and she always has been prone to hiss or grumble at little things. If Pounce, who lost a friend when Cory died, comes near her, she gives a big hiss and a yowl. No actually fighting yet, that I’m aware of.
For a while, Sister took the couch in the spare bedroom as hers and glared at Pounce from there. Pounce slept on the end of my bed many nights. Then Sister came in my room, checked the place out, and established herself at the foot of my bed. I mean, she has been napping there all day and night.
The new development: I petted Pounce before I went to bed last night, but thirty minutes later, she was crying in the kitchen. I got up, sat a few minutes, gave her a treat, and went back to bed. She cried again in a few hours and jumped on my bed. Sister hissed and Pounce got down and left. Pounce cried again around 6 am. I got up late as a result of all this, took care of some errands, had breakfast, and went to work on my writing. Sister had not returned to my bed. Then Pounce began going into my room and crying plaintively. She did it three times in a row, so finally I went in there and let her sit on my lap for a while. She got up grudgingly, but did not cry again. The last time I looked, Sister was back on the couch in the spare bedroom, either in a huff or depressed or both, I’m sure.
Can you see why I have titled this “Cats and Humans”?
We should be charitable, contribute to our communities, and teach our children by example to do these things. I know this, and I’ve been reminded of it lately by a young parent who is figuring out how to go about being a good example.
Today, at age 74 and 10 months, I am contributing to my community through my church, a sister church, and Lions Club. I am being charitable by mailing checks to groups I believe are helping others and by giving out food through my church.
But I confess that when I was a parent of young and teen-age children, I was not doing these things, so I was not setting a good enough example. I was a college teacher in a state college where I taught as my contribution to the lives of my students and to making this a better world, but I don’t know that my sons saw it that way. We went to church, and people gave their offerings, but our church was not as engaged in helping others in the community as it is today, even though the congregation was bigger and younger. Individuals served Habitat and a local food bank, and one member served on the school board, but, as far as I knew, that was about it.
So, what can I say, with authenticity, to the young parent who wants to serve his community, help the poor, and teach his children to do the same?
I still believe that the tradition of worshipping God in church is a very important thing for children to experience. Hearing about it is not the same as living it. When you hear about it instead of participating, you don’t get the stories and the songs that stay with you for life, or the comforting ritual, repeated every Sunday, teaching how to pray and worship so one doesn’t have to invent it oneself when in need.
But just going to church is not enough.
It strikes me that one way to have community, charity, and worship at once would be to find a church that does service to the community and become a part of it. It wouldn’t be necessary to go every Sunday, though it’s worthy of the effort. It wouldn’t be necessary to hold an office or participate in every single activity. But if the family can find a church where the worship service seems authentic and comfortable and where there are simple, direct ways of helping others that children can see and eventually participate in, this would be a good step in the direction of serving and teaching one’s children to serve. The activities of helping others, along with the Bible stories and songs to sing, would give the children memories to last forever.
We can’t attend church normally now, let alone join a church, while the Covid-19 virus is still a threat. But we will be able to within the next year. If you are ready to think about it, the time between now and then could be spent looking online and talking to others to find a church that will be nice to join and that helps others in the community.
I’m one who prefers the humble cleric in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and my own humble rector (pastor) at my church, St. Luke’s Episcopal in Fort Valley, Georgia. Egotistic performances at the pulpit normally turn me off.
Today, however, I heard a sermon presentation (not just a sermon but a presentation with video, song, and even a virtual choir) that was part of the Sunday service for the Episcopal Washington National Cathedral. The presentation, “Weary Throats and new songs,” began with compelling song by an older black female vocalist, and after several minutes, the voice of Rev. Otis Moss III began to be heard.
The singing and song were wonderful. But at first, I was not comfortable because his was a fast-paced delivery filled with as many big words as he could squeeze in to capture the essence of the song and of song in the black American experience. I could barely keep up at first with what he was trying to say.
More video could be seen with a young girl watching her grandmother sing in church choir practice, and Rev. Moss kept talking. I began to be moved by the music and the experiences he was describing, and after a while it occurred to me that the events of our time excuse or even require the forcefulness he was using to get across his message.
He ended by suggesting that not only has song carried people through, in the time of the Israelites and in the black experience in our country, but also choirs strengthen us, the act of singing together, being connected in song. I feel this myself, from my participation in our very small choir at St. Luke’s.
Rev. Moss called up on the screen a virtual choir consisting of the musicians, tech people and singers from his congregation. Most of them wore shirts saying "Stay Connected." The experience was very powerful. I’d say it was cathartic if it wasn’t more of a call to action for us to become and stay connected.
I'm a Swedish Lutheran turned Episcopalian who prefers sedate church services and humble preachers, and I would like to share with you the service that so impressed me today. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo44NzWjp0A to be strengthened by song.
I don’t put all my faith into political action. It seems like the free market, education, and our political system are what will influence the future, probably in that order, although they are interrelated.
Right now, the free market seems to be contributing technology as well as increased jobs and affluence through global business interactions. On the dark side, corporations (as well as non-profits, unions, and government entities) spend money to influence government to do what they think will favor them in the short term.
More children have access to education, but results indicate that they do not learn enough about math, history, economics, or cultural heritage. Science is stressed in schools, but those who do not learn to read, think, and do math have limited opportunities in science and technology.
Maybe now more than ever, and maybe due to the failure of schools, many citizens vote based on emotions, on who they are encouraged to think of as enemies, and on what they hope to profit by in the short term. Maintaining our constitutional order and freedom do not seem to be high on most people’s lists.
I say all this to put in perspective what I am glad to have learned from the book Never Trump by Robert P. Saladin and Steven M. Teles. This book reviews in great detail what conservatism has been through--during the last decade, really—and suggests what the two major parties may become in the future. It is a valuable book, and I feel better after having read it.
The authors review the emergence of #nevertrump individuals according to the sectors of the political world the individuals have as their milieus.
To oversimplify, the foreign policy experts already were not very partisan, they had worked to maintain our country’s role in a beneficial world order, and they were horrified not only by Donald Trump’s crudely stated positions but also by his character as a leader. They stated their objections early in letters signed on by many, and as a result, many would not be invited or wish to be invited to play a role in Trump administration.
The political operatives ultimately were separated into two categories, the ones who could make a living and be #nevertrump, and those who eventually realized they couldn’t. However, what I experienced personally during the 2016 campaign and, really, have experienced ever since, could not have happened without these political operatives. I actually met Joel Searby, who risked his career and business to form a plan to try to win in the electoral college by putting forward an independent candidate. To make a long story short, Evan McMullin ended up being that candidate. I had campaigned locally for Rubio who lost (and who disappointed me by lowering himself to Trump’s level during later debates); then I had been on phone calls with Kendall Unrah and a large number of others who were trying to get a voice vote on the floor of the Republican convention to stop Trump; and then I joined with others, like Vicki Hensel and Elaine Stephen, who since have become my dear Facebook friends, to support Evan McMullin. I met Evan, Joel, and John Claybrook in Atlanta, and later McKay Ah Ping. I wrote articles and blogs supporting McMullin for online newsletters and in Medium. I am in Facebook groups formed by Evan supporters: American Pursuit, Americans for the New Conservative Movement, Independent Nation, and Standup Republic. I even joined Unite America, which is bipartisan.
Reading Never Trump helped me get a more complete view and a better understanding of the movement I have been involved in (though I have been playing a very, very minor part).
Another sector the authors of Never Trump report on is the media, which is pretty well broken down into the print and the broadcasting sub-parts. The authors theorize that the intellectuals writing for the print media had the goal of keeping conservatism decent—expunging racist and xenophobic ideas, for example, and of presenting the movement in a positive light, such as by showing how free enterprise helps eliminate poverty. The broadcasters, on the other hand, wanted to whip up viewers at any cost. Two broadcasters, Charlie Sykes and Erik Erickson, were alarmed by Trump. Ultimately, Sykes became a writer and podcaster. Erickson, who writes a column as well as having a radio show, eventually gave up his rigid opposition to Trump. This section of the book helped me to realize that my thinking has been heavily influenced in recent years by the intellectual conservatives. I don’t agree with every point they make, but I consider them to be serious and decent. The trouble is that only a small segment of America reads The National Review, the (now defunct) Weekly Standard, the Bulwark, the Dispatch, and other intellectual conservative publications or the columns by Bret Stephens, Mona Charen, Linda Chavez, and Jennifer Rubin, to name a few. Broadcasters on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets form the opinions of the majority of Americans—those who don’t simply rely on dubious social media posts for their ideas and “information.” So, politically, I was living in an imaginary world, thinking it represented the larger world of conservatives. It didn’t, and it doesn’t.
The book also discusses lawyers and economists and essentially says that most of them try to stay away from taking positions for or against Trump, although there are exceptions.
Never Trump concludes by putting forth two possibilities. One is that Never Trumpers will have little or no influence on the future of our country as socialists and populists continue to fight for control with weaker centrists having less and less sway. The other is that a new wing of the Republican Party will grow and come into power in some states and areas that do not agree with populism and racism and xenophobia but do support free enterprise, the constitution, and equal rights for all, regardless of race, national origin or gender. Then the Democratic Party would have two wings, the socialist one and the more moderate, traditional one. And the Republican Party would have two wings, the liberal-conservative one and the populist one. I am not sure where the various wings would stand on use of military force, but the moderate Democrats and liberal-conservative Republicans would favor free trade. Then Congress would make laws based on compromises that could be achieved among the groups, and, hopefully, have more strength to stand up against the president, whoever he or she might be.
It’s my turn to weigh in on the subject of masks.
To be clear, I agree with the scientists and doctors who tell us that we wear cotton or disposable or even bandana masks for others, not for ourselves. It turns out that our masks help deflect the micro-drops of virus even if they are not the N95 quality that medical personnel wear. But we wear them in case we have the virus so we don’t spread it and to encourage a social compact that if we all wear them, fewer will get sick or die.
It probably was in February when my daughter-in-law sent me a pattern for cloth masks and suggested I could make them to help medical people in need. By the time I made my first few, the call for masks for medical personnel required a different pattern that allowed the insertion of filters as liners. I had just barely figured out my until-then-unused new portable sewing machine and the instructions Andrea gave me. The new pattern, for hospital masks, looked daunting. A lot of measuring and folding would be required.
The experts in the US and WHO were saying that it would not be advisable for average people to begin wearing masks as they do in Asia. I made masks for my family and my son’s store employees anyway.
But then the experts changed their tune. They said they hadn’t recommended masks because there was a shortage of them for medical personnel, and they were afraid people would rely on masks too much and not take the other precautions such as hand washing and not touching their faces. Ever since, the experts on TV have reminded and begged us over and over to wear masks if we come around other people.
Meanwhile, my mask sewing was improving (my apologies to those who got the first batch), and I finally got some elastic and the right type of wire for the nose area from Amazon. A friend’s daughter asked for masks for her older parents; so, I volunteered, and I also offered masks to my church members (virtually all of us are elderly.)
Ever since, I’ve been making masks every few days. I even put some in the Little Free Pantry behind our church for people in need. But not everyone has bought in.
My son who is scrupulous about health habits and works in a factory--where they were laid off for two weeks due to a case of Covid 19--was frustrated that the men in the plant, including the managers, won’t wear masks. The managers still aren’t, but since there have been two additional cases, and maybe because of the experts on television, now almost half of the workers are wearing them. His co-workers made fun of the masks I made for him, but he has since found more effective masks that look more ordinary, I guess.
Being over 65, I haven’t gone away from home much. I’ve seen crowds of people on TV who ignore both social distancing and mask wearing requests. I’ve heard about Trump supporters who become angry when asked to wear a mask and sometimes become violent.
In our small Georgia town, there are quite a few mask wearers. I’ve noticed that more African Americans than whites are masked up.
I plan to stay the course, keep wearing mine, and make more if anyone needs them. Both for ourselves and for others, we’re better safe than sorry, And please step back if you get too close to my face!
Recently someone close to me asked my opinion about her poems. And another old friend is sending me his poetry book to review and edit. In fact, I did edit a book of poems for a former student about a year ago.
I find commenting on the poetry of others to be very tough!
When, in the seventies, I began writing poems fairly frequently, I did it for enjoyment and self-expression. As an English literature instructor, I was familiar with much poetry, most of it old. I did sit in on a colleague’s modern American poetry class, however, where I gained a deep appreciation for e.e. cummings, William Carlos Williams, and Wallace Stevens. I’m sure I began to try modeling my work after theirs.
In the eighties, I was tremendously fortunate to become involved in the Macon Poetry Group and later the Georgia Poetry Circuit. Adrienne Bond got the poetry group started, and other members included Judson Mitcham, Seaborn Jones, Mike Cass, Adrienne’s sister Charlotte, and a few others. We were not a group of hobbyists. We were very serious about improving our ability to write good poetry. Members made detailed, constructive recommendations. There was little deflection to avoid hurting members’ feelings or vanity. Still, one (well-published) member admitted he only brought his poems after he was sure he had thoroughly revised them. Both Jud and Adrienne had been to the Breadloaf Writers Conference in Vermont, and their experiences there must have informed our discussions. Several of us subsequently attended writers’ conferences at Callanwolde in Atlanta, at Sandhills at Augusta College, even as far away as Birmingham and Indiana University. I gradually found my voice, at least some of the time, and I succeeded in getting a few poems published in minor literary magazines. You might say that some principles or rules were drilled into me by these experiences, except that I also learned that any rule about writing poetry can be broken for a reason.
So I feel that before I give constructive criticism to other people who have written, I ought to provide a disclaimer, or several. As a result of my experiences, I have developed biases and tastes as well as a recognition that there are all kinds of poets and poetry in this world. The kinds of poems I work to write are not the only forms of value, not the only ones that are published. Each poet has to decide on his or her form, but, as it was for me, individuals can learn from reading other poets and understanding their techniques.
My biases and tastes derived from the advice of William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Koch, and the good poets I was privileged to interact with. They include, but are not limited to the following:
* When possible, use short or even single syllable words with clear vowel sounds.
* Longer lines with five or six or more strong stresses carry more weight or seriousness than shorter lines. A caveat: I love the work of Williams who in some of his poems attempted to emulate American speech, using three beats per line.
* Deciding where to end a line is very important. It can be a full stop, or it can lean into the words in the next line.
* The more images and the fewer abstract and/or Latinate words, the better.
* Less punctuation is called for than in prose, but some mechanism should be used to indicate ends of sentences or transitions. Poems should convey complete thoughts in most cases rather than being a stream of words.
* Titles are very important and should bring something to the poem that you maybe couldn’t put in the lines of the poem, but it’s possible for the first line to also serve as the title.
However, these are only biases and tastes, even if I do share them with other poets. Out in the world of published and recognized poetry, there are prose poems, abstract poems that make little or no literal sense, Walt Whitman type poems that go on and on, and, of course, a panoply of rhymed and metered options, both old and new.
I will inject these ideas into my comments on my friends’ poems, but I wouldn’t dare to tell them what they should say.
Now, having considered all of this, I need to go back to work and write more poems.
It's still the pandemic and I'm still staying at home. Instead of walking at the park or on a walking track or at the mall, I'm walking on the road near our house.
I've changed my route since a cheerful young dog insisted on following me home if I went down Windy Hill to the cul-de-sac and back. Now, I leave home, turn left, turn right at Daniel Drive crossing the road, go past the university president's residence down to the Daniel Drive cul-de-sac, and home. I see some berry bushes before reaching the president's house, and I've been waiting to see if ripe berries show up. But the bushes are about 12 feet from the road, with a section of tall grass between the road and the bushes, and I'm constantly in mind of Dr. Houston Stallworth's admonition, "Take a quick look-see before you step." That bit of wisdom was imparted when my mobile home was being set up on his property in August 1968 before I began my 46+ year career at Fort Valley State, or as some like to say, "The Fort Valley State University." (It was a college then.)
Dr. Stallworth said this when we saw a relatively small rattlesnake on the lot where we were setting up. Those bushes on Daniel Drive today look like a prime location for snakes. In fact, I saw a black snake go into the bushes closer to the president's house just the other day.
Since my Daniel Drive walk is a little short, I thought I'd try turning right out of my driveway, walking down to the next driveway, then turning back and heading to Daniel Drive. And guess what I discovered--blackberries along the road in the grass! Today was my second day bringing a small paper sack and picking the ripe ones. It is hard to step between the little plants, not quite bushes or vines, and not step right on top of some berries. While I was concentrating on where I was planting my feet, a truck driver stopped along side of me and said, "Watch out for rattlesnakes!"
"I am," I said, and I gave the ok sign with my fingers. But I admit that I watched my step even more closely on the rest of my walk.
I'm fascinated by the way different experiences that we have connect. That's why my stream of consciousness is so active (and I leave people behind in my conversations so frequently). Today’s blackberries remind me of the times, only two years ago, when our granddaughter Alana was three, or maybe it was when she was two. My daughter-in-law Andrea, Alana, and I would go to the berry patch in a vacant lot around the corner from their house in Grant Park, in Atlanta. I didn't think anything about snakes there, although, I admit, I did see a snake in the weeds on the edge of their property when they first moved into their house in Grant park.
Maybe I can write a poem about snakes and berries some time. But for now, a stream-of-consciousness blog will have to suffice.
Greetings from Georgia (and from Aiken SC, which is almost in Georgia)!
I'm thankful that we had a good year. I wish we could have seen more of our friends and family far and near. We did visit Herman's family in Tifton and Albany, Georgia, and even went to the beach house near Inlet Beach in Florida with Herman's cousin Sharry and her husband James (Sackor). We saw Mikelle, Teresa, and little Savannah in Atlanta when they visited Alex's family. (Mikelle is the daughter of Sharry's twin, Garry.) Herman, Aaron, and I spent a few days in Hilton Head, so that box is checked off.
Herman's uncle Raleigh and my sister Nancy shared genealogy information with us. From 23andMe and Ancestry.com, we've learned that I am 2% Mali and Senegalese and Herman is (wait for it) 2% Swedish!
Alex's store, Taproot Hydroponics, is in its 7th year. Aaron has been with his company as an industrial electrician/trouble-shooter for 5 years. Our daughter-in-law Andrea has become a licensed real estate agent. Herman is working on projects, including a portable wheelbarrow garden. And I'm teaching online, meeting with my writers group (and sometimes actually writing), working for my church including our Little Free Pantry (Herman built it), and volunteering with the Lions Club of Fort Valley. I'm practicing my violin a little, and Herman plays his guitar all the time.
Alex and Andrea moved to a new house in Avondale Estates, near Atlanta. It goes without saying that our time with our grandchildren Ashton (to be 3 in February) and Alana (just turned 6) is the highlight of our lives.
Merry Christmas to you, and we hope you have a happy and fulfilling new year!
Why I joined the Lions Club
Last night, I received a pin as I became a Charter Member of the new Fort Valley Lions Club.
In recent books by Jonah Goldberg, Ben Sasse, Ben Shapiro, and others, I’ve read again and again that a good and strong culture depends on healthy involvement of its people in community. Their arguments are convincing. I was involved in community during my 46 years as a college professor and college administrator and during my years as a parent of sons who were active in our community. But I have been less involved lately.
I still am active in my church, which has a very small membership and thus a limited reach. But I reasoned that I’m a hypocrite if I advocate community involvement on the one hand but generally follow my individualist proclivities instead of being active myself.
Then up sprang an announcement in my Facebook feed. I had until June 10 to become a Charter member of the new Lions Club. I live in a small Middle Georgia city that has its issues. But those who were seeking charter Lions Club members are people who I believe work towards constructive solutions, not to promote one faction or another. The International Lions Club is well known for its charitable work and strictly forbids political engagement by its members as members.
I remembered that my dad, a true individualist who didn’t approve of simply giving handouts, did join and advocate for the Optimists Club to contribute to his community.
So I got in touch with the club organizers. Now I am Lion Anna, and I will do my best, given my availability and my abilities, to serve Fort Valley.
History consists of facts. But history books and classes are selective—all facts cannot be taught, and all facts are not known. Biases of teachers and authors who do the selecting inform and distort our understanding of history. This is especially true when it comes to the Civil War/War between the States. Unfortunately, these biases have contributed to discord in our nation.
In this blog series, I will stick to my personal observations as much as possible, and I have first-hand experience of the widely divergent ways in which the Civil War is taught. I call it the Civil War because I am from the North, and from the Land of Lincoln at that. My fellow Georgians call it the War between the States or the War of Northern Aggression.
Where I grew up, in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln was a hero. We learned about how his family lived in a lean-to in a harsh winter in Indiana, how he read books using a fire for light, and how he loved his mother, Nancy Hanks. And we understood that, as president, he ended slavery. As we got older, we learned that some northern states had slaves and about the Dred Scott decision. What we did not learn was to hate the South. I had ancestors from Minnesota who fought for the Union and possibly some who were held in the. Andersonville Prison. I think we just felt that what the South did was in an earlier time in history that we were glad was past.
Northerners seemed to have some respect for General Robert E. Lee, and I accepted that. We little girls who loved horses knew all about his horse, Traveller. An article I read recently about Lee, penned due to the current problems around celebrating any confederate icons, suggests that after the war he facilitated peace talks between the North and South, so we might not have been wrong entirely.
My mother told me, humorously, that southerners in Arkansas told her she was sweet, even if she was a damned Yankee. Little did I know that I someday would become a damned Yankee—or some thought so, even though I am a midwesterner!
Some people in the small Georgia city I moved to at age 23 were kind and courteous. But some stared at me and seemed hostile—largely because I came to work at a historically black college, I’m sure. Everybody knows everything about everybody in a small southern community.
I may already have heard, but I soon had evidence that the white townspeople considered the Civil War (the War between the States, to them) to be the war of Northern Aggression. The concept of States’ Rights (that I actually believe in) turned out to be what they believed the war to be about. They stated directly that the war was not over slavery but about northern economic aggression and State’s Rights. The northern towns I grew up in were very patriotic, especially on July 4. Georgians barely celebrated the Fourth until the Bicentennial except with family picnics and concerts held in the black communities. Black people were more likely to celebrate Juneteenth. I learned this as I did research for an article in the Macon newspaper while I was serving as a faculty intern.
Other factors leading to southern bad feelings toward northerners include the political situation during the period of Reconstruction and the terrible economic conditions later caused, among other things, by erosion and the boll weevil that decimated the crops so that the South was less prosperous than the North.
We may think all of these things were long ago and not relevant to prejudice existing today. But the southern Democrats turned Republican—and now many are supporters of President Trump--for reasons not always related to small government or the Constitution. And only two years ago, I learned that one homeowner in town is still bitter because his family lost land three or more generations ago during Reconstruction.
All in all, northerners don’t realize what the South has been through—and that even Lincoln and his fellow Republicans allowed slavery to exist until there was no hope of maintaining the union. And southerners still are being taught a version of history that makes them appear to be the victims—brave and rebellious victims. Unfortunately, black people, Hispanics, and Asians sometimes experience the resentment of those who lost the war.
How history should be taught still is a hot potato, and states are requiring opposite things in textbooks as we speak. Meanwhile, a large number of students in most states cannot even pass a U.S. citizenship test.
It would be good if we could sort out ideas versus motives and cultural failings. Yes, colonists cheated native Americans, had slaves, and didn’t give women rights. Yet they handed down a constitution that has set forth the means of correcting such wrongs. Like northerners and southerners today, the first citizens in the United States were influenced by existing conditions in their culture all at the same time as they put forth the philosophy of individual rights. It would be good if their valuable contributions could be taught alongside the lessons of how not to treat our fellow human beings—and how not to allow power, money, and the media (who seek both power and money while we can only hope they are following journalistic standards) to warp our feelings for each other.
Observations on the subjects of friends, family, country, cultures and nature.