Those Who Can Teach; Transformative Teachers



ThsWhCnTch

copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

In an earlier essay, Those Who Can Teach; Life Lessons Learned thoughts on the ever-present influence of George Bernard Shaw’s philosophy were evaluated.  A personal reflection, perchance, helped advance an analogy.  We each are as the Playwright was.  When young, we learn through our experiences.  Later, we are forever challenged to change our perception. Evolutions and beliefs born in emotionally trying times collide.  Intellectually, we may understand, to learn our minds must be open.  Nonetheless, endeavor as we might, most of us remain closed.  Sill, it is never too late.  Greater awareness can come at anytime, in Elementary, Middle, High School or College.  Let us assess anew as we look through the lens, life in school.  

He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches

~ George Bernard Shaw [Man and Superman, 1903]

“A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw’s adage belies what was the Playwright’s life. The Author, contrary to his own claim, taught and he did.   Indeed, the Dramatist achieved success in each of these endeavors.  In words and through deeds the Writer acted on what he avowed were opposite ambitions. His instruction influenced generations. More than a century after his utterance children are trained to believe as he professed true.  Several ignore the veracity; Shaw’s prolific plays proved that he could successfully and professionally practice in a field as well as serve as the exemplary Educator he was, and is.  Regardless of the misguided reality today crowds continue to chant, “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches.”

As evidence of this collective less than reflective conviction Americans might merely look at the headlines.  Are Teachers Under Attack?  G.O.P. Governors Take Aim at Teacher Tenure. Public Workers Face Outrage as Budget Crises Grow. Education under Attack: Violence against Students, Teachers and Schools in Armed Conflicts.  Teachers are forever being questioned.  Students receive much wrath.  Schools are vilified.  Yet few consider why these criticisms might be.  

Instead, we repeat the rhetoric and share our own stories.  I have my memories.  Countless tales could have led me to perceive Professors as, George Bernard Shaw did and society does.  Instead, I acknowledged that what, for me, felt good or bad was a blessing.  Persons whose pedagogical practices would never be mine, taught me how, or how not to teach. I offer tales of two Teachers.  Enter Doctor Mac and Miss Z.

I think of my first computer class.  Doctor Mac, a glorious geek who could build a central processing unit [CPU] with ease.  However, to edify the technologically illiterate such as I was . . .  Well that is another story for another day.  I am aware that many thought Doctor Mac was the preferred Professor. For someone as infinitely analytical as I, his more superficial treatment of the subject did not work well for me.  This magnificent master is one of many who were unable to reach me. Quite the contrary was true. His methods and instruction left me feeling lost.  I was more than frustrated.  I was frightened.  I so yearned to learn!

This thought brings Miss Z to mind.  I had been beyond proficient in Math all of my life until this wiz with numbers became my Teacher.  The jocks loved Miss Z and she was fond of them. In class, the Educator and the athletes discussed how their respective teams did.  Scores.  Stats.  “Sports” was a constant topic of conversation.  Proofs, sometimes.  Some Math problems were shared on the board or on displayed by the light of an overhead projector. I was an A+ Math student.  Yet, under the tutelage of Miss Z, nothing made sense to me.

Before, during, and after class, I asked for further instruction.  I sought other sources, my parents, another Professor, and even Miss Z herself.  My Mom and Dad tried to assist to no avail.  Their skills in math lacked luster.  The other Teacher said unless I was enrolled in her class . . . Oh, how my family and I tried to make that dream come true.  Miss Z? Well, she only knew how to teach in the way she always had.  Her manner was incompatible with my learning style.  I would stand at her side, look on and listen.  Ultimately, each time, I left her presence in tears.

Thankfully, Teachers such as Doctor Mac and Miss Z were the exception in my life.  Most Instructors I met once enrolled in an educational institution were glorious.  On occasion, outside of school, and not only in my childhood home, I was confronted with what also might have shaded my reality.  Perchance, you can relate.

I discovered that a stupendous Teacher can also be a disastrous one, dependent on the lesson.  A phenomenal practitioner can be less than fully effective.  Eric had been an exceptional Teacher in my life..  The man who was my beau was also an excellent driver.  I trust he still is.  Eric learned to use a manual transmission early in his own hours on the road.  By the time we were together he was a pro.  Eric could shift gears flawlessly.  He did not bump or grind, nay pop a clutch. This lovely man is in addition a patient professor.  Cheerfully, he chose to teach me. Eric Smythe would move me from automatic to stick shifts, or so he and I believed.

I imagined he would be, as in every other avenue we traveled together, a fine facilitator.   However, this turned out not to be true.  The loving man was thorough in his “lessons.” Too thorough for me!  I felt as if he believed he needed to teach me to steer, turn, and travel the roadways as though I had not done this for years.  

I, who received an A+ grade in Drivers Education, was treated as a neophyte.  While Eric was patient with me, the young Mister Smythe drove me bonkers. He, too carefully, crafted his lesson.  

Eric could do and teach.  Nonetheless, this combination was not enough.  Trained Teachers take the art and science of instruction seriously.  Professors understand the gravity of their performance.  Expert Educators never forget that what a Teacher imparts influences more than a single person.  His or her words and deeds will likely affect generations, perchance all of humanity.  Notes from former and present pupils remind a Teacher at most every turn.  Often a glance from a frustrated student, from one fond of learning, or a gaze off into space during a lecture, tells a tutor in the immediate that every moment matters.

Unlike George Bernard Shaw,  I often say, “Those who can, Teach!”  Education is an art and science. More than hand-eye coordination is required.  Task analysis too is not enough to teach.  Facts, formulas, and figures do not offer focus.  Fellowship must follow.  An instructor is not as a friend, whom students engage with for fun.  He or she, when devoted to excellence in education, is so much more.  

We learn from words.  Actions too deliver a message.  Communications and contact inform us.  When an Author writes, a Performer presents, a relative rants, rages, or roars with laughter, he/she advances awareness.  The intended quality of the instruction does not determine whether a lesson is learned.  Care and compassion count.

The mind is no match with the heart in persuasion; constitutionally is no match for compassion.

~ Everett M. Dirksen [Senate Minority Leader 1959 ~ 1969]

We all have had poor Teachers.  Some are known as Parents others Peers. Even progeny and Playwrights offer instruction.  What separates Teachers from the rest of these Educators is a philosophical preference, awareness for what George Bernard Shaw and society-at large misses.

Several sage scholars have devoted a lifetime of study to pedagogy, patience, and principles that further empathy through education.  These persons practice profound theories that others do not feel they have time let alone tolerance to pursue.  

Educators have lived, learned, and to this day understand, our experience of Teachers is unique.  What is dreadful for one student is delightful for another,  Instructors dare to challenge the myth that lives large in our lexicon.  They brave a collective consciousness and verve that states Shaw’s statements are wise. The thought Teachers cannot do, while our standard, is flawed.  A deeper reflection reveals the dynamism that is on display daily.

Perhaps, as a nation we might ponder the damage done when Parents, policymakers, and pundits posit; Educators are know-nothing, do-nothing. less than motivated individuals. Might we consider how the theme discourages children, let alone Educators?  A young mind could easily question why should I go to school only to sit with a failure?  

Could it be that toddlers and tots are wounded when in a desire to criticize, Moms and Dads mention the maxim in regards to an Instructor.   Might we as a society have given birth to many a self-fulfilling prophecy and a generation of students at risk?

Might we embrace  careers in education and those who take on the identity of Teacher.  

If we had, imagine what society could have been. Instead of a culture that adopts evidentiary erroneous beliefs as our truth, or a country commonly known as a dropout nation, we might have given rise to students who soar.

Possibly, beginning today we will agree, each of us had mentors who were accomplished in their field.  We had and have excellent Educators.  Most of us also had more than our fair share of miserable mentors. “He who can, did, does; and teaches.”  Indeed, we are all great Teachers to someone.   We have no choice; we can do nothing else. For as living, breathing beings, we constantly engage and exchange.  We share ideas and inspire others.  That by definition is education.

References and Resources . . .

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Those Who Can Teach; Life Lessons Learned



ThsWhCnTch

copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches

~ George Bernard Shaw [Man and Superman, 1903]

“A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

I heard the words for as long as I recall. The meaning was intricately  woven into my mind. I, as all little children since George Bernard Shaw scribed his belief, “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches,” was taught to believe that Teachers could choose no other career.  Educators, entrusted with children’s lives were indeed, incapable beings.  These individuals had tried and failed to perform well in professions that required intellect and, or dexterity.  Because the incompetent were inept, they fled to schools and identified themselves as “Teachers.”  In classrooms, less than sage scholars could teach with little authentic expertise.  Today, as a culture, Americans choose to prove this erroneous truth.  Grading the Teachers: Value-Added Analysis.

Happily, our fellow citizens dismiss the “scientific” evidence that amasses.  In our stupor we embrace Value-Added Analysis, disregard the research revealed in a 2010 Department of Education report, Error Rates in Measuring Teacher and School Performance.  “Consideration of error rates is especially important when evaluating whether and how to use value-added estimates for making high-stakes decisions regarding teachers.”  

Americans do as they have done for well over a century; they look to those they love for guidance and validation, be it George Bernard Shaw or the Gates Foundation.   One loosely proclaims Teachers are incapable. The other spends $45-million dollars only to assert what his organization hoped to prove Study supports teacher ratings.  Yet, in truth the findings are extremely flawed.  Thus, is the logic of learning.  As a society rarely do we reflect upon the original source of the “sage” wisdom we subscribe to.

The “Decline Effect” escapes us.  Might it be that ignorance is bliss?  Perchance, in regards to lessons learned, and unlearned, it is.

How Do We Learn or Unlearn?

Let us begin with a look behind the statement that sways the public, the story of George Bernard Shaw. Historical records reveal, the Playwright loathed his primary Professor, his father.  Possibly, this detail supports my own truth, and perchance yours.  A number of those who provided lessons never knew they did.  Moms are mentors.  Dads are guides.  It is why any of us may accurately muse, “more is caught than taught.”  George Bernard Shaw learned from a master he detested.  Thus, as a child, Shaw concluded, those who counsel are not qualified to give advice.

I acknowledge, a few erudite individuals had no idea they taught or that they were my best tutors, even by being the worst.  This is true in homes and equally the case in classrooms.  Even in exchanges with random Educators we meet in life, be they the butcher, the baker, or candlestick maker, some sages teach us in sensationally pleasant ways.  Others offer lessons that are authentically painful to us.  Nonetheless, we learn.  I believe had George Bernard Shaw not been so severely scarred in his childhood home, he too would have acknowledged this wisdom.

Frequently, Mommies and Daddies seem, as Shaw might ascribe, anathema as Teachers.  My biological parents could have been characterized this way, and each was by a sibling or two.  I share.

When I was a toddler, I learned to walk, to talk, and to toilet train myself.   Granted, in the abstract, I had role models.  Concretely? Not so much.  Hence, my guru was my own grit and gumption.  Later, in my youth, I sought a scholar when I wanted to study how to ride a bicycle.  

Mommy and the man who was called father were busy.  They had but minutes a day to help me work on maintaining my balance. The automobile parked safely in the garage had hours to spend.  Therefore, I held the little Rambler’s hand or she held mine.  For days, I devoted much time to circling the car.  With one palm on the vehicle and the other on the handlebars, I went round and round until finally I trusted myself to do other than lean.  Then, I let go.  My Teacher, the red Rambler, released me from what seemed a spell only when she sensed I understood.  

The steel scholar had not pushed me; nor pulled me down.  That sweet metallic body let me be “me.”   Munificence, benevolence, largesse, and the gift of trust are qualities that few have.  I know not if these can be taught.  I do believe that if they are learned, a semester of lessons is not enough.

As a very young child, I realized that no one around me was an authentically patient prospect.  People pretended whilst they profess, they knew the way.  I can; therefore, I will teach is often the stated premise.  In actuality, in my life, the knowledgeable are frequently ill equipped to provide quality instruction.  Less inspire.  However, early on and even today, I do not endorse the conventional wisdom. “Mature” men and women posit, “My mother and father did the best they could.”  I would disagree.

My theory is less than lovely parents teach in manners, perhaps somewhat different, still, similar to those their parents favored.  Teachers do too.  If an Instructor learned to maintain an emotional distance, to lecture, rather than relate to a whole child, he or she will embrace this method.  If statistics, scores, and specific learning strategies spoke to a Teacher when they were a student, the probability is high that techniques that utilize such conventions will be their chosen standard.

I learned from my Mom who transformed before my eyes, this was her truth . . . that is until she realized how her path had hurt her children. Thus, I trust Teachers too can chose to be aware of how they ways work or are less effective for any learner.  Countless do.  Fortunately for me, innumerable gurus  have been my guides, much more so than the musings of George Bernard Shaw ever were.  

I wonder. In the world of teacher evaluation might we examine our beliefs more closely.  Could we not learn from a bit of real life reflection.   Let us not so quickly endorse the data that proves what we came to believe in childhood.   May each of us take a moment to sit with our reveries.  Reason.  Evaluate the history of “decline effects.” Might we ponder the vast body of research results that do not merely restate or support simplistic, long-sanctioned, supposed “solutions.”  Let us hold dear our personal memories and recall, not every Teacher is anathema to the notion of education. I ask you to have faith as I do; those who can do teach!

References for a repeated reality . . .

Humans; Heartbreak, Heartache, and Heart Felt Feelings

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

Originally published, Thursday, October 19, 2006 at 13:24:53 PM

Currently, I am writing for an educational organization.  In penning my pain for what occurs in our schools today, it occurred to me the same impersonal approach, awareness, or lack thereof, is evident in offices, neighborhoods, and in our broader community. People pretend to or believe they ” know” their fellow workers, their family members, and their friends.  Yet, more often than not, I observe that this is not necessarily true.  I, we, she, or he only comprehends what is visible on the surface.

Few choose to ask of, address, or answer the deeper concerns that life delivers daily; I offer this narrative and request your reflections. We all have our own tale to tell. I invite you to share yours.  Please trust that I care; your secrets are safe with me.  I suspect that others will honor you as I choose to do.  I believe we all relate to sorrow.

Today the distress I wish to discuss is heartbreak, heartache, and heart felt feelings. In my own life, I am witnessing that many close to me are battling life-threatening illnesses. Their terminal diagnoses affect me deeply. They weigh heavy on those closer to the ” patient” than I. I cannot begin to imagine the pain long-suffering persons feel. Yet, through the quiet trials and tribulations of a teen, who supposedly studied under my tutelage, I learned. What we hide hurts us most.

I feel such sorrow for friends, family, or even the individual that is hurting, struggling to survive. Each time I hear of a person waiting to pass, I wonder.  What are they thinking, feeling; how will their own being be altered, and what of their loved ones.

As I listen to many in my life speak of loss, I am aware that even those that lose a loved one to divorce, physical separation, or a break-up are also feeling great pain.  There is so much that occurs daily in the lives of each of us.  Yet, we rarely discuss our deepest anguish.  Students are often satiated; their personal pressures can be overwhelming.  Anxiety has an effect on the work of pupils; yet, rarely do Educators address such concerns.  I wish to share a personal story, one that illustrates how loss can take a toll on our students.

I recall a time when I was teaching high school students.  A young girl, quite bright was struggling to connect in most of her classes. Many of Marsha’s Instructors pondered, ” What were they to do with her?”

Each Educator in Marsha’s life approached her; they wanted to help. Teachers truly believed that Marsha could achieve if she just put her mind to it.  She was ” not working to her potential.”  Her mentors felt certain if they affirmed their belief in her that would be enough. All else would change. Thus, Instructor after Instructor spoke of this with the young scholar.  They discussed her grades, her attention to detail, and her chatty nature.  When I arrived at the school, I observed that in respect to Marsha, Teachers focused on what they could see; what they had observed for the last two years.

What they could not envision and did not experience was what occurred in the two years prior. Marsha witnessed a suicide.  Her father killed himself in front of her. She shared that after the incident, she and her mother were told by law officers that they had to clean the mess, the splattered blood, brains, and guts that covered the walls of her once tranquil home. Wow. How traumatic!

This young woman shared the tale calmly; it was ” just” part of a conversation. She showed no emotion as she described the details.  After all, she had two years to become numb.

Had I not ” been there” sitting with students and discussing daily distresses as they do while they work I would not have learned of this alarming event. In my own teaching, I do not place myself at a distant ” Teacher’s” desk in the front or the back of the room.  I casually chat with students while they work.  I purposely did not and do not present an imposing influence, in part because that is not my nature.

As a tablemate, I learned what many Teachers had not.  Thus, I ask; are we as Instructors attending to success.  Are achievements all we strive for or is it the appearance of these?  Does the want for verifiable standards neglect a students needs?  Does instruction in its current form fill a young mind or are only forms bubbles, and blanks filled in.?   How often might we miss knowing our students?  Granted, there are truths that Teachers accept.

I too acknowledge that with overcrowded classes and curriculums that must be completed, time and true care for the whole of our students can be left behind.  Much escapes our attention when people, pupils are not the mandated priority.  In effect, even if we say students are our main concern, if Educators, parents, Principals, and the broader population act on another agenda, genuine empathy and education do not survive.

Perchance, this truth extends far beyond a classroom.  Indeed, I observe and experience that it does.  As humans we wish to connect; yet, barely and rarely do we really act on our deepest desire..

In cyberspace we chat.  On street corners we converse, albeit often superficially.  At a party, even with our pals, we discuss with tact.  Much is pretense.  More is merely as we are taught or told is polite.  I wonder what might we do to create what we crave, an authentic association.

Please share your thoughts, experiences, and observations.  I, we as Educators, as parents, as persons in a society that stresses ” accountability” in our schools can learn from you!

For those of you that are reading this saga and are not mentors in the conventional sense, please trust that you too are a Teacher.  We all are. Simultaneously, we tutor and we learn.  We are all students and guides; we each facilitate expansion.  I invite you to advance my own.  I thank you for offering opportunities for our greater growth.

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The Two Faces of Obama

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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

~ Barack Obama (President of the United States.  Peace Prize Acceptance Speech. December 10, 2009)

For years, Americans saw live, and in person, or on television screens, Presidential aspirant Barack Obama.   Several mused; the man is calm in a crisis.  “No drama Obama” was the phrase most often associated with the candidate.  Those closely and personally connected to the potential President corroborated what was for most only an observation.  The election did not change Barack Obama.  His calm demeanor remained intact.  Yet, many perceived a difference, not in his response to a predicament, but in the President’s rhetoric.  Empathy evolved into escalation.  This was perhaps most evident on two occasions, when Mister Obama delivered his Address on the War in Afghanistan, and then again when the Commander-In Chief offered his Remarks in acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize.  After these events, the pensive pondered; what was there all along, Cerebral Discord, the Two Faces of Barack Obama.

During the Presidential campaign, millions were aware of the dichotomy.  For Barack Obama the need for empathy and the escalation of armed forces seemed to safely coexist.   Others, hopeful, for a change may have chosen to forgive what was a concern.  Perchance Mister Obama’s persuasive language assuaged the American people, or they too may have suffered from the same condition, intellectual disharmony.  

Possibly, the public was either so eager or expectant, that they did not wish to wonder what might occur if Barack Obama acted on the more aggressive stance he often took.  Troop escalation in Afghanistan is a must.  The words the President of the United States postured in his recent remarks at West Point and in Oslo, at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, while countless thought anathemas, were as he presented in his published plan on July 14, 2008.

As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there.

Yet, most Americans and the Nobel Prize Committee were stunned when as President, Barack Obama fulfilled his promise.  More struggled with what they heard days later.  In his acknowledgement of the award he was about to receive, the Peace Prize, Barack Obama explained, and exclaimed, as has been his well-established habit; empathy is essential and compassion can not cure the world’s ills.  

While the rhetoric was exquisite, and the rationalizations seemed sound, the inconsistency awakened awareness.  At once, observers were alarmed by what was apparent for quite awhile.  There are Two Faces of Barack Obama.

The few who had feared his empathetic side welcomed the warlike stance of the current Commander.  Others felt the sacramental observance, the Nobel Peace Prize Presentation, was not the place to promote war.  Nor is it thought apt for the beneficiary of such a significant award to advocate for armed conflict.  Even those who trusted he would do as he had done, and say as he did, found it difficult to grapple with what Barack Obama has for all of his life: cognitive dissonance.

Some may ask; how can one man, woman, or one mind so adamantly adhere to the idea of empathy, and also embrace the notion that our fellow man is our enemy.  What is it that drives a desire to reason love and peace are  harmonious with hatred and war?  Why would a brilliant being think violence builds benevolence?

The cause, or perchance the effect, of the President’s condition was delineated and defined in 1956.  five years before Barack Obama was even a thought in the mind of his mother Ann Dunham.   Prior to his conception, few imagined that today a baby, born to an average Americans schoolgirl, would be addressed as Mister President.  All those decades ago, an individual whose background was as varied as Barack Obama’s is, could not be expected to achieve the grandeur he has.  At the time, to even ponder the possibility might evoke Cognitive Dissonance,  had the notion been a known construct.

Today, Social Psychologist Leon Festinger’s theory is an accepted truth.  Humans have honed the art of rationalization.  Some offer seemingly reasonable interpretations better than most others.   Mister Obama spoke of his skill to allegorize, to offer an analysis that is coherent, and cogent.  Indeed, as he wrote in his most recent tome, The Audacity of Hope,  President Obama offered that through conversation, he could conquer an adversary.

Readers of his book may recall the beloved tale that endeared the President to those who hoped Barack Obama might be a man of peace. The story led many, perhaps even the Nobel Peace Prize Committee 2009, to believe this Head of State is worthy of the honor he was awarded.

Like most of my values, I learned about empathy from my mother. She disdained any kind of cruelty or thoughtlessness or abuse of power, whether it expresses itself in the form of racial prejudice or bullying in the schoolyard or workers being underpaid. Whenever she saw even a hint of such behavior in me she would look me square in the eyes and ask, “How do you think that would make you feel?”

But it was in the relationship with my grandfather that I think I first internalized the full meaning of empathy. Because my mother’s work took her overseas, I often lived with my grandparents during my high school years, and without a father present in the house, my grandfather bore the brunt of most of my adolescent rebellion. He himself was not always easy to get along with; he was at once warmhearted and quick to anger, and in part his career had not been particularly successful, his feelings could also be easily bruised. By the time I was sixteen we were arguing all of the time, usually about me failing to abide by what I considered to be an endless series of petty and arbitrary rules–filling up the gas tank whenever I borrowed his car, say, or making sure that I rinsed out the milk carton before I put it in the garbage.

With a certain talent for rhetoric, as well as an absolute certainty about the merits of my own views, I found that I could generally win these arguments, in the narrow sense of leaving my grandfather flustered, angry, and sounding unreasonable. But at the same point, perhaps in my senior year, such victories started to feel less satisfying. I started thinking about the struggles and disappointments he had seen in his life. I started to appreciate his need to feel respected in his own home. I realized that abiding by his rules would cost me little, but to him it would mean a lot. I recognized that sometimes he really did have a point, and that in insisting on getting my own way all the time, without regard to his feelings or needs, I was in some way diminishing myself.

There’s nothing extraordinary about such an awakening, of course. In one form or another it is what we all must go through if we are to grow up. And yet I find myself returning again and again to my mother’s simple principle–“How would that make you feel?”–as a guidepost for my politics.

It’s not a question we ask ourselves enough, I think; as a country we seem to be suffering from an empathy deficit.

I believe a stronger sense of empathy would tilt the balance of our current politics in favor of those people who are struggling in this society. After all, if they are like us, then their struggles are our own. If we fail to help, we diminish ourselves.

~ Barack Obama excerpt from The Audacity of Hope

At the time he wrote those words, as Senator, and an author who aspired to inspire, Barack Obama reminded readers, No one is exempt from the call to find common ground.”  That is, unless, as he clarified with the Nobel Peace Prize in his grasp, “(A)s a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world.  Today, the man who occupies the White House would seem to no longer believe as his followers thought, or hoped he did,  

Perchance, a culture mired in its own cerebral discord did not acknowledge that Barack Obama has always been a mirror image of society.  He speaks of his love of peace.  He yearns for global harmony, yet President Obama believes war is a worthy endeavor. For the once candidate and also for the Commander-In-Chief who currently occupies the Oval Office, empathy is thought as  necessary as escalation. The Two disparate Faces of Obama are as they were, united.

Barack Obama has not changed.  Only people’s perception of him has been transformed, transitioned just as predicted, or has revealed itself to be as the President pledged.  The public saw the side of Mister Obama that he presented, and or, the one as individuals, each American might prefer.  He has always been one who embraces empathy as he asserts evil exists.

Little more than a year ago, when but a Presidential hopeful Obama offered his carefully crafted message while in Church, Christians rejoiced, as did those of many faiths.   On August 16, 2008, the world watched the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency.  Barack Obama presented his peaceful posture, not the face of the person who accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.

Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for to us have some humility in how we approach the issue of confronting evil, because a lot of evil’s been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil. . . .

In the name of good, and I think, you know, one thing that’s very important is having some humility in recognizing that just because we think that our intentions are good, doesn’t always mean that we’re going to be doing good.”

What a difference a day makes.  As a potential representative of the people, on the night of the Presidential Forum, Obama expressed as he had in his tome,  “Mutual understanding is not enough.  People must practice as they profess to believe.”  However, as he himself once chimed “Talk is cheap.” The philosophy Presidential candidate Obama bequeathed upon the American people, the thought that gave constituents hope has been shelved.  The sentiment is available only in archives far from the White House Situation Room.

When I was a community organizer back in the eighties, I would often challenge neighborhood leaders by asking them where they put their time, energy, and money. Those are the true tests of what we value, I’d tell them, regardless of what we like to tell ourselves.  If we aren’t willing to pay a price for our values, if we aren’t willing to make some sacrifices in order to realize them, then we should ask ourselves whether we truly believe in them at all.

The Nobel Committee might have read the passage, and as was stated, they wanted to support Mister Obama’s approach.  Accolades for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples” was thought to be sufficient to explain what those who were troubled by the March 2009 escalation could not understand.

Perchance, his mere election alone meant that “Obama has, as President, created a new climate in international politics.” After all, near a year before the Nobel announcement, Barack Obama had completed his original mission as articulated in 2004, “My job is to inspire people to take ownership of this country.”

Possibly, at the time of the official announcement, the Norwegian group was as mesmerized as the world was.  They too reveled in what Barack Obama acknowledged in his book; he has a “gift for rhetoric.”

That may explain why in an October Press Release the Nobel Institute stated that they thought Barack Obama embodied the essence of their belief “Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts.”  At the time, the Norwegian Stortingof might have recalled the eloquent and empathetic language of the world leader.  The Committee may have been so moved by the peaceful prose of the President they did not realize they had only caught sight of one of the Two Face of Obama.

While the Peace Prize is intended to go to whoever “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses,” on this occasion it did not.

A warrior, or one who sends tens of thousands of American sons, daughters, mothers, fathers and sibling off to slaughter and to be slaughtered received the honor. The combatant face of Obama who surrenders his more peacefully stated principles claimed the accolade.

In his Oslo lecture, the President did not acknowledge his cerebral discord.  Instead, he reasoned as researchers realized those who wrestle with cognitive dissonance do.  From the windows of the White House, President Obama, tells us, decisions look very different, (or did they, since Barack Obama actually did as he penned he would in his July 2008 plan)  Protected in the cocoon of a title, Commander-In-Chief, it is possible to order the massacre of a population comprised mostly of children, under the age of fourteen (14) and to do it “faster.”

Rationalization realized when cognitive dissonance dominates allows for avoidance and less authentic analysis.  Simply stated, President Obama professed to the Nobel audience, “There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”  This is the Obama escalation truth, regardless of a reality shared by his National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones, on Cable News Network’s “State of the Union” only days before the Peace Prize Committee announced that President Obama would win the award.

“Obviously, the good news is that Americans should feel at least good about in Afghanistan is that the al Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country. No bases. No ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies.

Now the problem is the next step in this is the sanctuaries across the border. But I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban and I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in danger — imminent danger of falling.

The intelligence General Jim Jones imparted was ignored just as the guidance from U.S. Afghan envoy, retired General, Karl Eikenberry was.    General Eikenberry advised against escalation.  However, the empathetic President, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient exclaimed to his Cabinet and Commanders, “What I’m looking for is a surge.”

Barack Obama favors, the fight.  An Afghanistan Apocalypse. seems reasonable when rationalized through the eyes of one comfortable with cerebral discord.  From the Executive Office, empathy equates to a troops escalation.

Perhaps, one day, anathemas such as war will advance authentic prospects for global harmony. Intellectual cacophonies, two faces shared by a man, (a nation, or the world) will merge into one.  Then, and only then, will change emerge, and peace be truly prized.

Surge reduced violence; but distracts us from long-term goal.

~ Barack Obama. CBS News interview with Katie Couric, July 28, 2008

End the war, and end the mindset that got us into war.

~ Barack Obama. 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles, California, January 31, 2008

Never fudge numbers or shade the truth about war.

~ Barack Obama. Keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention July 29, 2004

References for a dual realty . . .

Tortured

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Never for a moment in my life have I been “in love.”  I do not believe in the notion.  Fireworks have not filled my heart.  Flames of a fiery passion do not burn within me.  Indeed, my soul has not been ablaze.  Thoughts of a hot-blooded devotion seem illogical to me.  Such sentiments always have.  Fondness too fertile is but torture for me.  I admire many, and adore none.  For me, the affection I feel for another is born out of sincere and profound appreciation.  To like another means more to me than to love or be loved.  Excitement, an emotional reaction to another, rises up within me when I experience an empathetic exchange with someone who has glorious gray matter.

Today, it happened.  I felt an a twinge that startled me.  I stood still as he entered the room.  I expected nothing out of the ordinary, or at least nothing other than what has become his recently adopted, more avoidant, routine.  Although long ago, I had become accustomed to his face, his voice, and his demeanor, for I have known the man for more than a few years.  In the last few weeks, while essentially he is who he always was, some of his stances have changed.  Possibly, Barry has felt a need to compromise his positions, but I wonder; what of his principles.

Early on, I knew that he and I differed in some respects.  While we each loathe drama, I was never certain if he felt as I do; love need not be a tortuous trauma.  Barry spoke of the need to work together.  Yet, not necessarily in aspect of life.  At times, he advocated aggressive actions I could not consider.  This, for me, caused much confusion.  Nonetheless, I liked the man I saw before me.

I recall the day we first met, face-to-face.  We shook hands.  He smiled.  Barry was polite, not pushy.  Amiable is the way I would describe him.  Then, the second time we saw each other, we had a more extensive conversation.  He took my hand in his.  We each spoke with greater sincerity.  As Barry and I chatted, he looked me straight in the eye.  He listened to my personal tale.  Visibly, he pondered the story I shared.  Barry responded so genuinely to my inquiry, albeit an unconventional concern, I was surprised.  Indeed, I was impressed, although less than I was when I read what he had written.

His books moved me.  The more autobiographical tome endeared him to me.  His notes on hope did not lack the spirit to inspire me.  As one who “loves” to learn, which differs from the impulsive idea that I might be “in love,” a person that can kindle my earnest thirst for knowledge truly electrifies me.  I recall the moment I read the text that, all these years later, still resonates within me.  Barry humbly offered, in a discussion of empathy . . .

It is at the heart of my moral code, and it is how I understand the Golden Rule – not simply as a call to sympathy or charity, but as something more demanding, a call to stand in somebody else’s shoes and see through their eyes.

Barry told tales of his mother, his grandfather, and how through his interactions with each he realized there is reason to think “about the struggles and disappointments” others have seen in their lives.  Reflection helped the younger Barry understand, every individual is not solely right or wrong.  If he were to insist that, his way was the only approach that worked, “without regard to his [or her] feelings or needs, I was in some way diminishing myself.”  Such awareness, such a superior soul; Barry showed what I believe to be a human’s greatest strength, vulnerability.  Were I to have a heart to win, the words of this gentle-man could have surely swept me off my feet.

Even his calm demeanor is as I desire and live.  Those close to me wonder of my own emotional tranquility.  From his manner and manuscript, it would seem Barry believes as I do.  Empathy elicits equilibrium.  Today, he seemed to embrace this notion once again.  We can choose to love our neighbors.  We need not torture “those who are different from us.”

Near noon, on April 23, 2009, at the Holocaust days of Remembrance Ceremony, Barry, the now President of the United States, Barack Obama spoke of this belief again.  Once more, I felt a pang for the person who oft-expressed a profound connection to the feelings of another.  The sweet soul who can bring me to tears, did so once again.  On this historic occasion, Barry shared a profound realization through a personal story.  The subject; the Holocaust and the torture our forebears felt or beheld.

In the face of horrors that defy comprehension, the impulse to silence is understandable.  My own great uncle returned from his service in World War II in a state of shock, saying little, alone with painful memories that would not leave his head.  He went up into the attic, according to the stories that I’ve heard, and wouldn’t come down for six months.  He was one of the liberators — someone who at a very tender age had seen the unimaginable.  And so some of the liberators who are here today honor us with their presence — all of whom we honor for their extraordinary service.  My great uncle was part of the 89th Infantry Division — the first Americans to reach a Nazi concentration camp.  And they liberated Ohrdruf, part of Buchenwald, where tens of thousands had perished.

Stunned, by the saga, and the words that preceded the legend, I began to believe again.  Perhaps the Barry I admire had a change of heart.  Policies he never fully embraced, might not seem reasonable to him now.

During the campaign, Barry, Senator Barack Obama only promised to investigate, not to prosecute.  Many months ago, before the August 2008 declaration, and thereafter, I had thought his stance reflected his vast ability to empathize.  Yet, in the light of the ample evidence, most if not all of which affirms the Bush Administration engaged in extreme methods of interrogation, President Obama still supports or chooses to sustain a position that negates empathy for the victims.  I shudder to think of how the Seventh Generation might be affected.

Hence, I am left to question what I thought was truth.  Was the empathy I envisioned not as sincere as I hoped it to be?  Perchance that is why, for me, love is as torture.  I have faith no one has the power to disappoint me.  Only my choices can be a source of much concern.  For as long as I can recall, I have observed, once infatuation fades, we learn as I had before Barry entered the Oval Office.  He is but another human.  He embraces and then forgets, the power of empathy and the force of our past?

When, in homage to Holocaust victims, and survivors of a heinous hostility that forever stains world history, I sensed he knew.  As I looked on, I forgot the setting.  Intent on the torrent of news on torture techniques I read and heard throughout the day, I made an erroneous connection.  As Barry, President Obama spoke of the deeds done in decades past, and those crimes committed by the previous Administration, I imagined the man I thought I knew meant to express empathy for those who suffered at the hands of Americans.  The Chief Executive, on behalf of the United States avowed.

Their legacy is our inheritance.  And the question is, how do we honor and preserve it?  How do we ensure that “never again” isn’t an empty slogan, or merely an aspiration, but also a call to action?

I believe we start by doing what we are doing today — by bearing witness, by fighting the silence that is evil’s greatest co-conspirator.

In the face of horrors that defy comprehension, the impulse to silence is understandable.

I cried.  Tremendously thankful for the oratory, indeed, I must say, for a second, I was elated.  I wondered.  Had the person many think beloved, the individual I at least treasure, decided to rescind his prior position?

Might he have rejected the thought offered recently; “nothing will be gained by our time and energy laying blame for the past,”  

Could it be the Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony helped the President to renew his faith in his earlier expression;  “(H)istory returns “with a vengeance . . . “(A)s Faulkner reminds us, the past is never dead and buried — it isn’t even past.”  I hoped.

Perchance, he had worked through a struggle I too experience.  As one who has no desire to hurt others, even those who have physically and psychologically harmed individuals, and our country’s image, how might I think prosecution is just?  

I truly embrace such an honorable ability to seek no retribution.  Indeed, I may not fall “in love”; nonetheless, I would hope to live love.  

I feel harsh reprisals are never wise.  I also accept the enduring wisdom of a finer balance.  I have experienced the need to empathize and the conflict of what I might do if one I treasure intentionally injures another.  I have come to discover, if deleterious deeds are allowed to stand, sooner or later the other, I, and perchance, society will be subjected to adulterations that individuals or a culture cannot endure.

Awful actions we accept, avoid, or merely do not acknowledge become a foundation for the future.  Humans inure.  Lest we forget the Milgram shock experiment of decades ago, or the knowledge that when repeated in the present, proves again, as a Psychologist, Thomas Blass, espoused in  “The Man Who Shocked the World.” Milgram extrapolated, to larger events like the Holocaust, or Abu Ghraib.  “people can act destructively without coercion.”  “In things like interrogations, we don’t know the complexities involved.  People are under enormous pressure to produce results.”  

I wonder how many Americans came to accept violence as a necessity on September 11, 2001.  On that dreadful day, a date that now lives in infamy, all Americans were placed in a precarious position.  With the threat of terror etched into our every cell, each of us had to ask, what were we to do.  In the 2004 edition of Dreams From My Father, the Barry, who I trusted to be so thoughtful whispered his woe for what might occur once the “world fractured.” He penned . . .

This collective history, this past, directly touches my own . . .

I know, I have seen, the desperation and disorder of the powerless: how it twists the lives of children on the streets of Jakarta or Nairobi in much the same way as it does the lives of children on Chicago’s South Side, how narrow the path is for them between humiliation and untrammeled fury, how easily they slip into violence and despair.  I know that the response of the powerful to this disorder — alternating as it does between a dull complacency and, when the disorder spills out of its proscribed confines, a steady, unthinking application of force, of longer prison sentences and more sophisticated military hardware — is inadequate to the task.  I know that the hardening of lines, the embrace of fundamentalism and tribe, dooms us all.

Those are the words of the Barry I was inspired to meet, the person I was reminded of when he stood with an audience of individuals who never forget the agony of torture.  Today, as that empathetic soul, the President referred to the future, the generations to come, he stated, “We find cause for hope” when “people of every age and faith and background and race (are) united in common cause with suffering brothers and sisters halfway around the world.”  I thought of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay prison, and the prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the need to empathize with victims of “extreme duress.”

Oblivious to the purpose of this particular speech, in my moment of stupor, I surmised Mister Obama had not only accepted the association, but perhaps had realized what could occur if the transgressions of the previous Administration were allowed to stand as if all was in the past.

“Barry,” Barack, the Commander-In-Chief, further elucidated; “Those [persons] can be our future . . . (D)uring this season when we celebrate liberation, resurrection, and the possibility of redemption, may each of us renew our resolve to do what must be done. And may we strive each day, both individually and as a nation, to be among the righteous.

I imagined the reference was to empathy, to the paradigms I too embrace. Punishment offers no benefits for people.  Yet, there is a need to prosecute the culpable, to ensure that people are answerable for the most atrocious aggressions.  It is vital, if we wish to prevent the numbness that humans so easily adopt, we must bring torture to the full light of day.  Torment executed in our names, I think Barry would agree, hurts us.  Surely, General and President Eisenhower did.  Mister Obama acknowledged this only hours ago .

Eisenhower understood the danger of silence.  He understood that if no one knew what had happened, that would be yet another atrocity — and it would be the perpetrators’ ultimate triumph.

What Eisenhower did to record these crimes for history is what we are doing here today.  That’s what Elie Wiesel and the survivors we honor here do by fighting to make their memories part of our collective memory.  That’s what the Holocaust Museum does every day on our National Mall, the place where we display for the world our triumphs and failures and the lessons we’ve learned from our history.  It’s the very opposite of silence.

But we must also remember that bearing witness is not the end of our obligation — it’s just the beginning.  We know that evil has yet to run its course on Earth.  We’ve seen it in this century in the mass graves and the ashes of villages burned to the ground, and children used as soldiers and rape used as a weapon of war.

Barry knows what President Obama. spoke of in his address at the Holocaust Day of Remembrance Ceremony  Love needed not be tortured.  Expressions of fondness are found in empathy, not extreme duress.

President Eisenhower understood as I had hoped, on this day, Barry Obama had.  What occurs far from view is never truly unseen.  Nor can avoidance erase the scars left on a heart. While as a country, or as individuals we may prefer to retreat to the attic as President Obama’s great uncle did, in truth, it is impossible to forget.

People who participated know this to be so. A belatedly brave Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, Ali Soufan, tell his tales of sorrowful love in My Tortured Decision.  The mediator recalls how for seven years he has remained silent about the false claims magnifying the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding.  Mister Soufan, as General Eisenhower did before him saw the need to “shed light on the story, and on some of the lessons to be learned.”

I inquire; what will Barry do, and what of President Obama.  Will the man who once held my hand and professed a need to be empathetic do as he declares his commitment? “(W)e have an opportunity, as well as an obligation, to confront these scourges.”  Might he instead do as he hopes we will not, “wrap ourselves in the false comfort that others’ sufferings are not our own,”

I can only hope Barry will encourage the President to heed his own call. “(W)e have the opportunity to make a habit of empathy; to recognize ourselves in each other; to commit ourselves to resisting injustice and intolerance and indifference in whatever forms they may take — whether confronting those who tell lies about history, or doing everything we can to prevent and end atrocities like those that took place . . .”

Let us never forget Guantanamo Bay prison, Abu Ghraib, or any America penitentiary camp, need not be our holocaust.   Tales of tortured love need not be an American truth.

References for tortured love . . .

Pro-Life; Pro-Choice



Rape Victim

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Her father, a male friend, a classmate, an acquaintance who she only exchanges casual niceties with when she sees him, the friend of a trusted friend who took her out on a first date, assaulted her.  She was shocked.  Never did she imagine someone who was familiar to her, a respectable gent, might do as he did.  She did not know that someone known to the victim commits almost two-thirds of rapes.  This lovely lass had not truly had a need to grapple with cruel realities.  She could not have considered the cruelest realities that would now change her life forever.  Nor have many politicians found themselves in a place as unimaginable as this.  Yet, Presidents, Vice Presidents, Senators, Representatives, and Judges appointed by one Administration or another have a decisive power to determine her future.

As the elected officials debate her circumstances and the consequences, she lives them.  The recent “pro-life” revelations offered by the potential Vice President, Sarah Palin reminds this survivor of her personal, private history, and the hell that haunts her.  Her misery may have been met when she sensed a stranger in her presence.  However, more likely she suffered at the hands of one she knows well.  

73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.?

38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.?

28% are an intimate.?

7% are a relative.

Her situation might have been as most; it could have occurred less than a mile from her home.  She may have been among the 4 in 10 who are maliciously molested in their own abode.  The young girl, older woman, middle-aged miss was attacked from behind, or perhaps, from a frontal position.  She was fondled and finally, penetrated.  Her most private parts were not merely entered.  Her sense of self was ripped from her soul.  Clinically, Jane, Joanne, Jana, or Jennifer was raped just as women, men too are violated throughout America.

In 2006, there were 272,350 victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.  (These figures do not include victims 12 years old or younger.)

Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.

While the numbers of women subject to such an assault may be great, in truth, Deborah, Diane, Dina, and Dawn never thought they might be among these.  Each never expected to be a statistic.  Nor could they have predicted that they might become a vessel for another person’s personal angst.  Not one of these women wondered what might motivate someone to sexually assault them.  They were certain, they, themselves would never place themselves in a position to be brutally debased or heartlessly dishonored.

Yet, while in fear for their lives, ashamed, even mortified these frightened females unwillingly surrendered to a touch that terrified them.  Each was held tightly, not in a sensual manner, but as a means to control of their movements.  Engaged in an entanglement that was far from erotic, Sweet Sadie, Susan, Stephanie, or Sarah wondered and worried.  What might he do.  Did he have a weapon?  Until that moment, these ladies might not have fully appreciated the lethal power of language.  Yet, as the words of the perpetrator pierced their minds, hearts, and souls as a dagger might, they grew to understand.  In the United States, near eighteen (18) million have been victims of attempted or completed rape.  

1 out of every 6 American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).

17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.

9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003.

While about 80% of all victims are white, minorities are somewhat more likely to be attacked.

Some of these lovely ladies, in their careers, may crack a ceiling.  They may be outwardly successful.  Still inwardly, invisible to the human eye, these daughters of Eve are emotionally shattered.  A fortunate few will work past the profound effect to the extent they are able.  Yet, they will never forget the horror they felt, the horrific crime they endured.  No Miss, Missus, or Ms will forget what changed their lives and outlook.

While they may “choose life” for the fetus, choose to give birth to the child who is the result of such a vicious, violent, aggression, it will always be a challenge to look at that little lovable being and not be reminded of when or how that beautiful baby came into being.  Humans may heal physically from an invasion into their body and being; however, the internal wounds leave serious scars.

A child, as they grow inevitably will, on occasion, error.  A mother conceived in love will hopefully understand.  She will likely be gentle with the toddler.  A prideful mother may appreciate the development.  Yet, that same potentially melodious Mom may not be quite as generous if she scorns the man who planted the seed.  The way in which a woman coddles, or cares, for an infant is influenced by her perception of the other biological parent.  Try as a Mommy might to forget the circumstances of conception, the memory remains.  A young one who ever acts in a manner that is defiant or difficult is frequently compared to the man who planted the seed .

Granted, a girl, a matron, or a soon-to-be Mom of any age, a woman who finds herself pregnant might consider adoption, as Vice Presidential aspirant Sarah Palin would advise.  However, as a new mother ponders the future, she  has faith she will never forget that she had a child and abandoned the precious being.  Sure, she may say to herself she gave her son or daughter a wonderful home, two parents, a chance at a better life.  Yet, in her heart of hearts she knows the child will wonder why his or her birth mother might desert a child so dear.  

How could she be certain that the parents who raise her baby will be the best.  The expectant Mom cannot imagine how she will live with the memory that she rejected her own . . . the baby who will also be a product of rape.  A woman torn from within may understand that the fabric of her life was torn and tattered when first the man placed his seed in her womb.

While this woman with child might trust as Sarah Palin does, birth begins at conception, she may also come to terms with the fact that a definitive death occurred within her.  As an Earthly life as she knew it ended on the day of her rape.  A female when forced to face the demon that destroyed her spirit considers the alternatives, cannot help but think of the quality of life, hers, and her baby’s.

She will wonder will the newborn be safe; will she.  Might she, as the mother, or her child, be sane in a world full of feeling provoked by a scurrilous crime.  Is a child, not conceived in love, or a Mom mortified by a memory, better off if they settle for simple survival.  A female who finds herself confronted with what is surely a traumatic decision, must weigh what no one can evaluate for her.  She must determine the significance of the events and attempt to evaluate how she and the being who may mature will thrive..  

Rape for a woman so fully developed can be as cruel as abortion is for one who is barely born.  Perchance, no one can decide what is paramount, preeminent, or the perfect choice.  If we, as a society, as people,  are to truly honor life, might humans respect an individuals right to choose how, when, or if his or her body is breached.  Could we also provide sterile and sanitary spaces for those who may ponder what is imperceptible, inconceivable to us.  Let us reflect upon life, the quality, and all that is not necessarily quantifiable.  Perchance, we might empathize with the women and the being in the womb, the two entities whose fragile feelings were ignored at the time of rape.

Sources . . . Survivors of Sexual Assault . . .

Dalliance Defined

AffrsEdt

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

For me, it all began near a week ago.  There was no word of it on the Nightly News.  Nightline offered no interviews.  Articles did not appear in popular, or prized periodicals.  Even the National Enquirer had no exclusive accounts.  Bloggers did not blast me with rumors of what might have been.  The story, while sensational, did warrant banner headlines.  After all, neither person was as widely known as former Presidential aspirant John Edwards is.  The woman may or may not have had a history that would titillate many a reader.  I know not whether this thirty or forty-ish female was the mother of what the media would wish to label a “love child.”  I feel certain that her name is not Rielle Hunter or Lisa Druck.  She is not the fictional character, Alison Poole.  She was but a real person looking for love, as was he, in a parking lot.

I am not sure whether this is the first time, I have seen this particular pair.  Often, over many years, before or after my daily swim in a public pool, I gaze upon a couple of cars positioned far on the fringe of the city acreage.  The automobiles are not always the ones I saw days earlier.  However, the coupes are consistently stationed at the farthest edge of the property.  Each vehicle is expensive, a late model sedan, sports car, chassis, or coach, and always, the two will occupy spaces adjacent to the other.  This time, the cars were identifiable; perhaps because, I was closer to the area reserved for lovers.  

On this hot summer day, when I initially arrived at the commons, I sought shade for the “Silver Sweetness,” or what others might think of as my vehicle.  My swim is long.  I thought it would be nice if my metal friend could be to be cool and comfortable as I stroked through the water.  After, my dip in the pool, I returned to the parking lot.  It was time to travel back home.  As I approached my automobile, and saw the man and woman outside what, in that moment I thought might be their respective automobiles, I could not help but think they did not desire as I had.  Noticeably, the pair had other priorities.  

Unlike on other occasions over the many years, when cars were tightly closed as they sat alone on the edge of the lot, on this day no single car steamed from within.  The windows in each of the two ostensibly joined vehicles were dry and clear.  On this day, I observed the automobiles parked in “the spot” did not appear to be unoccupied for hours.  Instead of the usual sight, cryptic cars, I witnessed people “in love.”

They couple cooed, and warmly chortled in a public parking lot.  The duet may have defined dalliance.  The two whose cars sat empty, embraced as they leaned up against the side of what I later learned was the fellow’s top-of-the-line BMW.  Bavarian Motor Works can craft quite a coupe and this chap, apparently, had crafted quite a practice, medical I assume as I considered his attire.  I think the automobile may have been an M6 convertible.  If it was a lower priced model, the vehicle was certainly not near the bottom of the product-line.  The sleek, streamline steel blue frame and navy canvas top were truly fine, speaking as one, who, as a child was a connoisseur of cars.

The gent, who wore hospital scrubs, and the woman, well-coiffed, in her casual and professionally tailored clothing, wanted more of their moment than I did of mine.  I craved only protection from a blistering sun, for my metal companion.  I sought a place to park and a swim, nothing more.   It seemed my desires were far less significant than those of the twosome.  

Bodily thirst and secrecy appeared to be their priority; at least that is what I surmised.  Dalliance, in that moment was delicious.  I could think of no other reason for two, so completely entangled, to escape the sanctity of home, or office and meet in a parking lot.

They had not come to swim.  Bathing suits were not worn or stored in bags visible at their side.  The two did not stroll.  Nor did they travel away from the automobiles intent that they might swing rackets in the nearby tennis court.  As I walked to the Silver Sweetness, and tried not to watch, I realized I was distracted, less so with their “actions” than my reaction.

I wondered; was this encounter a celebration of love.  When people experience each other fully, hugs and kisses can be quite delightful.  Was this one of these special, spontaneous, moments?  It did not seem as such.  

The flirtatious energy did not suggest that the two were formally intertwined forever.  The playfulness did not express itself as familiarity frequently does; or at least what I witnessed was not as my experience when in a solid, secure, stable, and serene relationship.  I felt a sense of ambiguity, awkwardness, or anxiety in the motions of this man and woman.  Perchance, I interpreted what I saw incorrectly.  I am willing to be wrong and admittedly, frequently, what I assume is in error.

Hence, I was haunted by the questions I felt a need to ask, but knew I could not.  Were the two married or even emotionally, intimately involved?  Perchance.  Was this a tryst, an affair, an adventure, or excitement for those who yearned for exuberant enthusiasm in at least one avenue of life?  I knew not, and did not dwell on what might be for either of these individuals.  What I observed reminded me of times when I was infatuated, involved, or otherwise engaged.  

The chestnut-haired woman smiled ever so broadly.  She gazed into his eyes longingly, and held on to his body tightly.  The long and lean man looked at the voluptuous frame of his female friend and visibly responded to her buxom body.  The fellow looked into her face.  Yet, he appeared to focus more on what he felt.  He cupped her buttocks in his hands.  Even from a distance, I could see his eyes darted to and from her ample bosom.  The two laughed as they caressed each other’s bulk.

As minutes passed, and I came closer, I pondered.  Why would a couple comfortable in their relationship come to a public park only to stand together, smile, and smack lips, or rumps?  I could think of no reason for such an adventure.  Nonetheless, I acknowledge the truth of the adage, ‘Different strokes for different folks.’  I trust I cannot quarrel with what entertains another.  

I looked away content in the knowledge that I could never know what is real for this couple or any persons.  We are all so unique.  I struggle to grasp what is within me, let alone presume to know what might be true for these two.

I continued on to my car.  I chose to enjoy the day and my own doings, just as this duo did.  Soon after, I had the sense the “friends,” or “lovers” saw me.  I felt four eyes upon me.  I tried not to notice their glare.  Yet, I recognized the energy had changed.

The mirth melted.  The time for enchantment faded.  The satisfaction expressed in smiles and soft giggles fell into silence.  I had not meant to disturb them.  Perhaps, their now evident need to dash had nothing to do with me.  The time for afternoon-delights may have naturally come to an end.  I know not.  I was only certain I did not wish to intrude or be the cause of an abrupt closure.

I entered the Silver Sweetness and started the engine.  I hoped that my anticipated exit might settle the minds of the two who now seemed hurried.  As I placed the car [oh, how I hate to use that word when I describe the metal baby that has been so good to me] in gear, I looked out the windshield and saw that my move to leave had not eased the minds of this duet.

I reminded myself, what they do is not my choice.  I cannot please, appease, affect, or alter individuals that I do not communicate with.  I must accept that their actions are separate from me, although I felt a need to apologize.  I did not wish to disturb.  I could not say “I am sorry.”  That would have been more odd than any engagement they or I imagined.

Nonetheless.  Through the corner of my eye, I observed the woman quickly slip into her Lexus roadster.  Once snug in the single front seat of her pearl white luxury automobile, she placed the vehicle in gear and backed out.  She drove a few feet to where her beau stood, and thoughtfully spoke a swift good-bye.  Then, she sped off.

I decided not to follow her lead, and left more slowly.  I did not wish to travel too near or flee too soon.  I felt a strange need to give the woman her space.  I placed a bottle of water to my mouth, and drank a bit.  After, I departed.  As I drove away, I wondered would the fellow follow.

The road from the community park to the main avenue is a long one.  It may be half a mile long.  As I turned onto the back boulevard, I saw the pearl-white Lexus coupe was long gone.  Far off into the distance, I saw the woman was about to enter the main street.  The chap never appeared in my rear-view mirror.  Only thoughts of what had occurred were visible.

I thought of the times in my life when I was immersed in infatuation.  Thoughts of another could fill an entire day, weeks, months and even years.  I recall how I might do what I did not desire or delay more meaningful activities.  More than once, in retrospect, I pondered what might have been if my head and heart were one.  

How many hours had I wasted as I sought love and settled for lust?  As I journeyed home, my mind was filled with the folly of intimacy and how often, when in a whirlwind relationship, people to do not really relate.  They take no time to meditate.  Most couples barely deliberate.  Sincere discussions can be a distraction when individuals just want to do it!

Often, I realize depth in a love liaison is void.  Conversation can be vacuous.  Veracity is too often vacant.  The vigor and vitality felt is vast, more so than any authenticity.  What passes for passion is frequently fantasy.  The illusion is fantastic, and the involvement is just for fun.  

I think of what I have heard from men and women alike when they speak of past loves, or even those they bed in the present.  So often, in retrospect, a man once intent on an adventure such as I observed, will muse.

“When she wasn’t out at nightclubs, she was taking acting classes.  We dated for only a few months, but in that period, I spent a lot of time with her and her friends, whose behavior intrigued and appalled me to such an extent that I ended up basing a novel on the experience,” [he] recalled.

Indeed, only today a chap I am acquainted with described the woman he once hugged, kissed, and met away from the office, or his home as “an ostensibly jaded, cocaine-addled, sexually voracious 20 [30-40-50 . . .] year-old.”  As he spoke, I wondered of his former female friend.  I wondered; what might this lovely lady have said of him?  Would she say of the man who stood before me, “He is a cute and conservative chap whose . . .

idea of wild is argyle socks.  [The once wondrous woman could also soundly state]  But it’s okay, I like straight guys, I’d never go out with anybody who’s as irresponsible as me.  Most of the guys I know have really high-powered jobs and make up for lost time when they’re not in the office.  The Beserk After Work Club.  I seem to attract them in a big way, all these boys in Paul Stuart suits with six-figure salaries and hellfire on a dimmer switch in their eyes.”

Perhaps, the inamorata, who many would define as traditional, a conventional sort might conclude when with friends she trusts, “Men.  I’ve never met any.  They’re all boys.  I wish I didn’t want them so much . . . I hate being alone, but when I wake up in some guy’s bed  . . . and he’s snoring like a garbage truck, I go – let me out of here.”

Each of us can only imagine of others, and consider our own truths.  What motivates us, moves us, and what is in the minds of those of us whose story does not appear on the Nightly News.  When we dash towards and dither in a relationship that takes more time than it might be worth, what are our thoughts.  

My own experience tells me, in each of my close encounters, I avoided, as much, if not more than I approached.  Sex was perhaps easier than a cherished connection.  In serious conversations with many, I have discovered my interactions and I are not as rare as people may wish to propend.  Dalliance is not quite the dream we would wish it to be.

A gent is often more comfortable with a sweetie he can spoon, than one who he might wish to wed.  Gals may prefer to engage with men they rather not marry.  For some the excitement entices; for others convenience is cool.  A few express concern they cannot find the one and only.  These individuals sing, “If you cannot be with the one you love, love the one you are with.”

No matter what those of us who do not make the news say or do, I suspect each of us can wonder; what might an observer say of our escapades, our affairs, the excursions we make to the park, the hotel room, or any of the other out of the way places we go.  Our exploits are yet to be exploited.  Might we inquire, could we take the scrutiny we often impose upon others.  I know I could not.  In truth, as I observed the couple in my community, I could think only of me.  What had my “love” life been and why?

The Power of Passion Perused . . .

Restricted Sorrow and Sainthood

Mrn

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

I stroked the chair, caressed the spirit.  I cried.  She was gone; yet here.  Not forgotten; forever her presence would be with me.  Then within a wink of an eye, seven days passed.  Luke Russert appeared before me.  He stood; head bowed, and touched another chair.  This overstuffed piece of furniture once held the frame of his dearly departed father.  While some thought the moment sweet, many expressed exasperation.  They tired of the coverage.  Timothy James Russert was dead.  We need not canonize him.  A few were critical.  They wondered did cable television have nothing better to cover.  A “fellow” Journalist commented, “Will somebody please e-mail me when the eulogies for Tim Russert are over?”  Perhaps, tributes only end when we, the mourners pass. Possibly, memorials are personal, as are the parameters on grief.

Three weeks ago today, I looked longingly at the place she occupied forever.  My Mom could always be found seated at the kitchen table, that is unless she was cooking, baking, or gardening.  When Mom boiled, broiled, fried, or roasted victuals she did so with a lack of restraint.  Recipes were not to be followed.  They were guides, as was her nose, and the tip of her tongue.  Mommy was an eager explorer.  If not in motion, she read voraciously while erect in a straight back wooden chair that I stood and admired twenty-one days ago.

Mommy reveled in being productive and creative.  Her hobby was critical thought.  She lived, breathed, and was a being who constantly researched, reviewed all she encountered, and reflected.  Mommy was, and is authentic.  Berenice never pretended to be perfect.  She did not believe in the possibility.  My Mom learned as she lived.  All aspects of live were her lessons.

In our home, an error was an opportunity.  Mommy evolved eternally, and had faith all beings do.  I have no reason to believe that she has stopped or was stilled by a physical trauma that took her visible presence away from me.  My father does not fear that she passed on to nothingness; nor does he conclude that  her progression ended when her eyes closed here on Earth for the final time.

Indeed, that very morning, less than a month ago, while in my parents’ home, my father did as he diligently did each week.  He placed flowers in a beautiful crystal vase and put them in front of the chair where Mommy often sat.  She was not there that morning; at least most people would not have been able to see her.  Berenice passed more than eight years ago.  Nonetheless, for my father and I she is always present.  

On this date as on every other, my mother, his wife, would smell picturesque peonies.  She would admire the crimson color.  Red was her favorite hue.  Fresh flora, picked from her garden, and presented with great care was never a vacant gesture.  Mommy loved life in every form.  Plants were no less important than people.  The kitties some would call “pets” were also considered equal to humans in my Mom’s eyes, although., I wonder if others ever understood that.

I think, at times, some felt as though Mommy was closer to the “cats” than she was to them.  Perchance, she was.  From the “babies” she received unconditional love.  They, as my father and I, knew all her flaws and thought them fun.  Those unique qualities were the source of endearment for father, the furry felines, and I.  Food and feedings did not bind a mammal mother to her daughter, her husband, or to the purrfect little ones who sat with her every chance they could.

Mom and the four-footed cuddly children expressed empathy for each other in ways that could only be felt.  She and some humans, not me, had never connected with such compassion.  I suspect those who know us only from afar cannot fully grasp the wholeness, the whoness, that makes an individual great.

For me, Berenice was and is beyond belief.  Perhaps that is why, all these years later, I gaze upon her station and shed a flood of tears.  For me, it is as though she has yet to pass.  Yet, in my heart I know of the looming doom.

Some would say my moans and the notion that I might mourn my loss silly.  Near a decade has passed.  Certainly, I must be over the occurrence.  We are here; then, we are gone.  People live and then they die.  That is it.  Enough already.  I have reason to believe some who knew Mommy do not grieve as I do.  Still the ache I feel at the mere mention of Mom is sincere.  The pain of her passing will likely never leave me.  Nor will her words or ways be lost on me.  She is as alive within me and for me as she was the last time we spoke, face to face.

On the Sunday I last spent in her home, before I left for the flight back to my own abode, I turned and kissed a photograph of her.  It stood in memorial in the dining area, on the sideboard.  There, Mommy could see the flowers my father picked for her.  From where she was, my Mom could also study the pile of books Dad left for her to read.  He, as I, trusted she would wish to remain current.  Just as they had when Mommy filled a more Earthly presence, volumes on various subjects, were stacked on the table.  Mommy and Dad would read and discuss onto infinity.

Yes, my father is as foolish as I.  

We recall the wondrous women who taught us to believe in love.  Dad and I cannot forget the fondness of a being who had faith; there are no limits.  While we understand that several persons think my father and I need to “get over” her “death,” we must “move one,” each of us experiences that we have evolved.  Mommy has been integrated into our soul in a manner that shifts us farther forward.  Neither of us ever imagined we might grow as we have.  Our horizons have become more expansive.  Might we be the flowers Mommy now nurtures from an ethereal garden?  I can only wonder just as, I ponder the posture of those who easily leave loved ones behind.

Frequently, I marvel as I observe those who dwell on the hate, hurt, or the resentment they felt and possibly still feel.  As Timothy Russert was laid to rest, several of those who survive were not at peace.  Headlines blazed across page after page.  Columnist crooned.  In The Nation Alexander Cockburn penned all but a acclamation.  He wrote in an article titled The Canonization of St. Tim, Beat The Devil . . .

The delirium in the press at Tim Russert’s passing has been strange.  As a broadcaster, he was not much better than average, which is saying very little.  He could be a sharp questioner, but not when it really counted and when courage was required.

This short stanza is the kindest portion of the prose.  A reader might ask, was Tim Russert expected to be perfect.  Are we to believe that one is beloved only if they are flawless.  Could it be that homage is reserved for revered Saints; humans need not apply.  While I am able to relate to the frustration the author expresses, I also acknowledge the importance of what Tim Russert saw as his mission.  The broadcaster wished to create a historical record, “My views are not important,” Russert explained.  The man mused; the audience is intelligent.  Viewers will think for themselves.  Timothy J. Russert honored each of us when he offered a forum, a foundation on which we, the people could build.

For me, the vision Tim Russert spoke of defines love, unconditional, unconventional, unique, and exceptional.

Perchance, that is why I admire and appreciate what those who were close to him continue to venerate.  Mommy forever offered, “No one has the right to tell another what they should think, say, do, feel, or be.”  Timothy James Russert, just as my Mom trusted that each individual would decide for him or herself what was right, correct, and best.

An anguished viewer may have wanted the host of Meet the Press to attack a guest, to confront a purported corrupt Congressperson, or curtly cajole a public official.  Many an MSNBC spectator may have wished for an on screen war.  As a reader of numerous periodicals might surmise, several persons hoped to hear Russert rant and rage.  Yet, the gentle man could not, would not.  Perchance, the Journalist and Jurist was a peacenik to the core as my Mom was, or conceivably, he was just polite.

Russert said his mission is to learn as much as he can about the guests’ position on issues beforehand and take the opposing side, while maintaining a civil atmosphere on the show.

“I’m in a position to call them out and try to bring them back to the point where they’re giving an honest answer to an honest question,” he said.

Ah, the best policy.  As my Mom taught me, one must seek truth and trust that veracity for one may not be reality for another.  Wisdom grows; it is a progression.  The sources for information are infinite.  We must investigate, not castigate, or so I believe.  I recognize this principle is contrary to the opinions of many a media specialist.  Nonetheless, as one who intends to weep for the Mom I miss forever, I cannot spew words such as “How the Russert Test Failed America.”  

I inquire, might it be that America failed the Russert test; the key to a meaningful life is understanding.

Granted, judgments may differ; and I, for one hope they will.  For I cannot learn from those who agree with me, forever and always.  I embrace a philosophy that serves me well.  Mommy helped me to realize, perfection is not precision.  Facts are fluid.  A stagnant specific is as flawed as the falsehood, we must grief a loss for only as long as it entertains a particular person or audience.  

Tim Russert may have provided us with an unexpected opportunity, a chance to learn what most erudite elitists missed in educational institutions and esteemed ivory towers. If we wish to be excellent, we must embrace empathy.  Only when we walk in a world that differs from our own, as Timothy James Russert hoped to help us do, can we garner a genuine depth.  While conventional wisdom may teach us accepted rights or wrongs, I trust only exceptional insight allows for an awareness that the man or the Mom who sat in a chair teaches through his or her all too human being, more than they might through a supposed intellectual expertise.

Sources of sorrow, and serenity . . .

Humans Inhumane. Furry Friends Abandoned in Foreclosures

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Americans like to think of themselves as humane.  We set up societies to ensure the four-legged creatures will be protected and cared for.  People build playpens and homes to shelter their furry friends.  We coo and hold close the littlest, most dependent, beings we call doggies and kitties.  Man’s best companion is the dog that sits by his side, or the cat that curls in a ball on his lap.  We carry photographic images of our pals.  Some store these in their cellular telephones; others post the likeness of their “pets” on a computer screen.  We love the beings who return our affection unconditionally.  Yet, throughout America babies are being abandoned.  

The small and cuddly beings who share their lives with us have become a casualty of foreclosures.  People lose their home and then their minds, hearts, and souls.  One can only surmise.  What occurs in America?

Reports of this crisis are beyond belief for many.  In a civilized society, animal abandonment is epidemic.  This seems such an enigma.  It is difficult to believe that benevolent people, when in distress, might forget their principles and their pets.  It is a challenge to accept that living beings are left behind, with little care or thought, as homeowners’ head for the hills.  Yet, tis true.  In America today, our beautiful babies are left to fend for themselves.  Few survive without food, water, or the heat an occupied shelter provides.

Nationwide, our neighborhoods scorned Michael Vick for animal cruelty.  Letters and calls pour in to the courts.  The formerly famous athlete, now know for disrepute, was justly sentenced to prison for his abusive behaviors.  Yet, individually, en masse, Americans allow their bow-wows and meow-ers to die, slowly, without the comfort of the person they once thought a companion, their best friend, care giver, and protector.

Pets becoming casualty of foreclosure

By John Simerman

Mercury News

December 22, 2007

BRENTWOOD — The kids at Stay & Play Pre-School take their afternoon naps among a few new friends: a pair of large turtles, rescued after months alone in a foreclosed Discovery Bay home.

Other animals weren’t so lucky.  One — a pit bull puppy — died tethered to a fence in a Pittsburg backyard.

“People are losing their homes, and animals are the fallout of that,” said Cecily Tippery, a Coldwell Banker agent who specializes in foreclosed properties, and now also in rescuing pets left behind.

Here in one of the nation’s foreclosure hotbeds, Tippery and her colleagues say they have found several pets in abandoned homes — enough to spread the animal care workload among them.

At one Antioch property, they found a dachshund, a Chihuahua, a beagle and a dead turtle.  A Calico cat turned up at an Oakley house.  A litter of kittens remained in still another empty house.

It is another sorry aspect to a foreclosure epidemic that has hit east Contra Costa harder than anywhere in the East Bay.  Although local animal control officers say there’s no evidence of a big spike in abandoned pets, stories of often starving animals left behind in foreclosed houses have begun to crop up across the country.

In Ohio, animal control agencies have scrambled to find space to take on an increase in abandoned and stray pets.  In Arizona, pet lovers have launched an e-mail network to help find homes for abandoned animals, according to reports.

“I’m sure there is an increase in it,” said Michael Parker, acting senior animal services officer in Stockton, at the epicenter of the nation’s foreclosure boom . . .

People do not know how to care for themselves.  Sadly, and certainly we do not teach young children the finer points of finance.  Economic mastery is not required in schools or in society at-large.  Few truly understand how to best secure shelter for themselves, or for loved ones.  The logistics of  how to best purchase a home is elusive for the vast majority of Americans.  We rely on experts.  Yet, for reason unknown there seem to be few experts on love, reciprocal reverence, and how to live humanely.

One would think in homes, churches, and schools we learn the importance of relationships.  Humans are gregarious creatures.  We give affection and wish to receive fondness.  No living being genuinely wishes to be alone; nor is survival effortless without another to aid and support us, even if only emotionally.  Animals of every type have a symbiotic relationship.

Yet, apparently, humans do not fully comprehend this.  Little beings, who fill our lives with joy, are not as possessions.  Rover, Rex, Tiger, and Tillie are not our property  People must  protect and provide for our pals.  Those unfamiliar with our four-legged family members, by law, cannot care for our fuzzy children.

One sticking point: The pets are considered personal property and cannot be removed until 18 days after a foreclosure sale.  The banks, the agents say, do not want the agents to feed them.  They do it anyway.

“My first impression was, how can somebody do this to these animals,” said agent Trish Balocco.  “We’re not supposed to take care of them.  How can you not?”

One Contra Costa County animal control official said the law requires the banks, or whoever owns the home, to tend to the abandoned animals.  Lt. Joe Decosta said he expects more forsaken pets as the wave of foreclosures and the economic fallout washes away more homeowners.

“As times get harder, there’s more cruelty.  You get animals that suffer more.  You’ve got people that can’t feed themselves,” he said.

Decosta said banks may misconstrue the law.  Part of the problem, he said, may be the legal definition of the animals as property.

“There’s no clause for them being a living being,” he said.

“If there’s no water for them, no heat, no shelter, no food, something’s suffering.”

Misery intentionally inflicted upon the babies is not legal, not humane, and beyond belief to those of us who truly care for our fellow creatures.  I wonder.  Perhaps, part of the problem is we call them “pets.”  We do not realize that while humans may stroke the little beings, the action is to pet; the animal is our brother.  Language is only part of the paradox.

Statutes treat these breathing beings as though they are less worthy, as if they are property, possessions, objects that we can and will throw away when they have outlived their usefulness to us, the supposed owners.  Yet . . .

In my life, Mitzi purrs expectantly each evening as I prepare the bed.  She sits sweetly as sheets and blankets are placed neatly.  When all is ready for the night, the little ballerina bounces up and moves to the center of the comforter.  Mitzi looks at me, her Mom, and says, “I’m ready.  I think it is time for us to sleep.”

Throughout the night, the little bundle of love and fur hums with delight.  The Boy joins us, after he ensures the house is secure.

When we awake in the morning, we move in unison.  I exercise on the floor.  The Boy watches from above.  He glances at me and chatters at the birds as they fly past the window.  Mitz awaits her massage.  In the meantime, she observes my activity.  She knows when the cycle is complete.

Once done I feed the babies, before I prepare my own meal.  Water dishes are refreshed.  Food replenished.  Litter is cleaned.  The babies and I work together.

There is not a moment that passes when in the presence of the Boy and the Girl  that they are not my priority, and I theirs.  When away from them, I think of them constantly.  The distress they express when they realize I might leave lets me know they worry about me.  I see them even when they are not near.  I am told when I am away they watch expectantly for my return.  

As a friend, a parent, a person who thinks herself humane, I could not leave kitties or a bow-wow without water, a comfortable well-heated or cooled place to, no shelter, and no food for the defenseless loves . . . As I learn of man’s inhumanity to his fellow beings, my heart breaks.  Please someone help me understand why humans are so inhumane.

Survival.  Sources. Are Humans More Fit . . .

Eyes, Empathy; Each Enlighten


Living in the dark

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

How many of us live in the dark; yet, our eyes are wide open.  We have the ability to see colors and faces.  However, what we witness is what is within us.  We notice none of the nuances that are the persons, places, or possessions that exist around us. 

When we look at a friend we perceive what we judge to be real.  Our family appears to be as we believe they are.  Objects observed are obscure.  Our own vision impairs our perception.

Imagine how different the world might be if familiarity was gained through touch.  If others talked and we listened for visual cues did not distract us.  Perhaps, if we did not distinguish or discriminate based on sight our experience of this planet might be different.  Without the ability to observe, we may learn to appreciate what stands before us.

While I would not wish such an impairment on any one.  Perchance, if we take a moment to put ourselves in the place of those unable to appreciate what we take for granted . . . Empathy is the best educator.