PLEASE DON’T PASS THE TURKEY – Marilyn Armstrong

For the past few years, there has been an increasing clamor to make everything shut down for Thanksgiving, supposedly so everyone can spend time with their family. Nice, well-meaning sentiment, on the face of it. Except for all the people who don’t have families with whom to celebrate. Or who are estranged from (or just plain don’t like) their family.

What about them? Are you making their lives better? Do they want the day off? Did you ask any of them?

Then, there are Native Americans who don’t want to celebrate the arrival of armed Europeans who would steal their land, infect them with diseases, and try to murder them. They don’t feel this is something to celebrate. Or the struggling families who count on extra money from working holidays to help them survive.

Everyone doesn’t celebrate the same way. Or want to. Some folks prefer to work on holidays. They would rather earn some money than sit around their empty rooms feeling left out of America’s favorite dinner party — and maybe they need the extra pay.

Or they don’t like Thanksgiving, for whatever reason. It is their right to feel that way.

I understand the sentiment. To me, it’s one more example of how we try to force everyone to march in lockstep as if we are all the same or at the very least, we all should be the same. Above all, we should want to be identical.

I would appreciate it if the righteous folks would shut up already.

This is a diverse country. That’s not just something we say during an election year. It’s a real thing.

As a nation, we supposedly treasure diversity as much as any other freedom. So let’s leave a little room for people to express their differences as well as their similarities, shall we?

We do not all need (or want) to eat turkey, with or without gravy. I bet if you ask the turkey, they definitely would like to skip the holiday.

LEARNING TO HATE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

There’s a beautiful and poignant song in the musical “South Pacific”, by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. It’s called, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”. It opens with the lines “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, you’ve got to be taught from year to year.”

I’ve been thinking about those lyrics recently. I was struck by a common statistic in both the Brexit vote in the UK and our election of Donald Trump. In the UK, the voters who voted most heavily anti-immigrant and anti-EU were from areas that had few to no immigrants. The open-minded, pro-immigrant, pro-EU voters were clustered in the areas with the highest volume of immigrants.

Interesting.

The same phenomenon repeated itself in the United States. Trump supporters accepted, if not endorsed his xenophobic, anti-Muslim, racist rhetoric and dog whistling. His voters were concentrated in areas that were most heavily white, with the lowest number of immigrants and other racial minorities.

The cities, where immigrants and minorities are concentrated, were across the board Democratic and anti-Trump. It seems that if you have contacts with minority groups or people not exactly like yourself, you accept and don’t fear them.

If these groups of people are total unknowns to you, you’re open to believing all the negative rhetoric about them. You’re open to seeing them as dangerous and destructive to you and your way of life.

At first, I thought this was counter-intuitive. But I realized that it makes perfect sense. When you live with a diverse group of people, you see that everyone, regardless of race, nationality or religion, shares your life experience. Most importantly, you see all other people as individuals. To you, they’re not, nor can they be seen as, a monolithic, mysterious blob of humanity, threatening everything you hold dear.

On a personal note, I grew up in New York City. Even in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, I saw different races and nationalities everywhere. I also went to integrated schools. When I was four years old, I had an eye-opening experience that I still remember. I’m a Jewish Caucasian. My beloved Nanny was a Christian black woman.

To me, Ethie was part of the family. She was just like me in every way. The first time that belief was challenged was when something came up about her going to church. It suddenly hit me that Ethie wasn’t JEWISH! She wasn’t just like me, she was different in some ways. It still didn’t register on me that her skin was a different color. That didn’t even show up on my four-year-old radar. I just remember grappling with the idea that Ethie was not really family.

She was not JUST LIKE US. She was, in some crucial way, different. I didn’t love her any less. I learned something that day. That I could love someone who wasn’t exactly like me.

Different was okay.

I guess isolation from different religious and ethnic groups leaves you susceptible to hate and fear.



You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
|Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

DON’T BE AFRAID TO LET THEM SHOW – Rich Paschall

True Colors by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

It’s hard to grow up with the perception that you are different from everyone else, even if it is not really so. When you do not know much about the outside world, the world inside you can make you sad. “Why am I not like everyone else?” you may wonder.

“Why am I so different?”  Thoughts like this can lead to sadness. Even though you try to act happy on the outside, your eyes might give you away.

“You with the sad eyes

Don’t be discouraged

Oh I realize It’s hard to take courage…”

75-RainbowNK-2 There is no way to know that being different is not necessarily wrong when your emotions are telling you otherwise.  Worse yet, other people are telling you that different is wrong, even if only in an indirect way.

“Cut it out.”

“Be a man.”

“Grow up.”

“Stop crying.”

“Why can’t you be more like your brother, cousin, sister, uncle, ____(fill in the blank.)”

“Don’t you like sports?”

“Don’t be a sissy.”

“Only a queer would wear that shirt, pants, shoes, ____(fill in the blank).”

Some seem hard-wired to accept the criticism as they grow up. They look like everything just rolls right off of them. They smile while they hurt. You may think, “Every kid is teased as he grows up. It’s just part of life.” Yes, we all get teased, but some of us are different from the majority … and can’t cope with the teasing.

“In a world full of people

You can lose sight of it all

And the darkness inside you

Can make you feel so small…”

At the darkest moment, a rainbow may appear

With a limited view of the world, and lack of experience dealing with the emotions tossed your way, you can feel small, insignificant, different. And different seems bad when you are trying to find your way. What is inside you has dark colors and no glow.

“Dear god,” you may silently cry in the loneliness of a dark room just down the hall from the so-called regular people, “please make me like everyone else.” The prayer might be repeated until you are empty of tears, and they no longer wash down your face.

“But I see your true colors shining through

I see your true colors and that’s why I love you…”

If you are different, but not in a bad or destructive way, you may need someone to reach out and tell you it’s all right. Someone, anyone, needs to explain that different can be okay. You don’t have to be like the majority. Each can possess unique characteristics that make them special, important, creative, fun. And everyone is worthy of love.

“So don’t be afraid to let them show: your true colors…”

Encouragement is needed to let friends, neighbors, and especially young ones know that each has his own gift. We can’t all be the same. We can’t all do the same things. There is nothing wrong with singing a different tune, being a different kind of person. Diversity can be strength. All the pieces can come together to form a perfect picture. When all the colors are put alongside each other, they can bring everyone joy.

“True colors are beautiful like a rainbow.”

If all this seems a bit cryptic, then let’s just say it is tough to grow up different and hiding who you are. The song “True Colors” has taken on a rather symbolic meaning in some circles since it was first recorded by Cyndi Lauper. Contrary to what some belief, it was not written by Lauper and was in fact the only song on her True Colors album she did not have a hand in writing. Nevertheless, it resonated with her and years later she co-founded the True Colors Fund to wipe out LGBT youth homelessness.

John Legend sings this for kids and teachers. You can find a Cyndi Lauper version here.

HAVE A HOLLY JOLLY CHRISTMAS … AND DON’T FORGET TO DECK YOUR HALLS WITH LOAVES OF CHALLAH

I know it’s that time of year again. For one thing, there’s five inches of snow on the driveway and we haven’t hired a plow, so it better melt pretty fast. Lucky we have a 4-wheel drive car parked up at the top, eh?

Owen’s going to come by in his jeep and try to flatten it out so we can walk up to the car and not fall on the ice. There’s more weather expected Tuesday … but hopefully, it won’t accumulate. Much depends on the temperature. If it isn’t too cold, it won’t stick. But you can never tell this time of year. Anything could happen and by anything, I mean it could be balmy spring weather or deep, bitter cold. With or without snow.

It is lovely outside. The last of the snow is clinging to tree branches, though it is melting pretty fast now. I know I should be taking pictures, but I’m tired. We were doing GREAT on our lovely little vacation in Connecticut until that torturous drive home. More on that later.

I couldn’t take pictures of the torturous drive home because my camera fell out of my bag in the Curleys driveway. They found it, so it is safe … but of course, it was the only camera I had brought with me. Ironic. I always bring at least two cameras … and this time of year, boots because weather in New England is crazy. This time, in one of my rare efforts to pack lightly, I didn’t bring any boots. I didn’t even bring extra shoes.

“Garry,” I said, “The bags are light. I didn’t even bring boots. It’s not going to snow.” I said that with the kind of certainty that only someone who is completely wrong could possibly muster.

Garry complete agreed with me. He brought what could only be described as tennis shoes.

It snowed. In Connecticut and all the way home. And kept snowing. When I woke this morning, I could hear thudding outside, which I assumed — correctly — was clods of snow melting and falling on the roof.

Have a holly jolly Christmas and don’t forget to decorate with loaves of challah.

We all need diversity in our lives. The more, the better.

SOMETHING TO BE PROUD OF – RICH PASCHALL

Your True Colors, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Like most people, you might join in a celebration of heritage, religion, race or some identifying quality at some point during the year.  In fact, you may join into several .  There are so many celebrations it is hard not to be a part of something grand.

We all take part in the fourth of July celebration.  We are proud of our heritage and wish to celebrate it.  There are parades and picnics, concerts and fireworks, flag waving and red, white and blue decorating.  Television shows, especially those of Public Television, bring us programs of our history, national parks and our unique music.  It is hard not to be swept up in the grand emotions of the day.  Do your emotions swell with pride?

Many also celebrate their ethnic background through a variety of events.  They honor the Independence of the nations of their ancestors as well as our own Independence.  Cinco de Mayo, for example, is a great day of events to honor Mexican heritage, although it is not Mexican Independence Day as some think.  In fact, it may be a bigger deal here than in Mexico.  Nevertheless, we all join our Mexican neighbors in the festivities.  September 16 is actually Mexican Independence day in case you were wondering why our friends were celebrating again.

German-American Festival, Chicago

Here our German heritage is celebrated with Von Steuben Parade and a weekend of Oktoberfest-like parties.  Baron Friedrich von Steuben was a German military officer and volunteer for General George Washington in the Revolutionary War.  By the end, he was Washington’s chief of staff.  Imagine the Pride for German Americans that this officer, born in Germany, helped to secure the Independence of America.  He was born on September 17th, hence our combined Von Steuben and Oktoberfest events.  By the way, we are also proud to say that our German parade was used as the parade in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  I guess it is appropriate Ferris is singing Danke Schoen.

In a city as diverse as Chicago, we always seem to be having parades.  In the summer, there are many weekends I can walk to the corner and watch a parade head down Montrose Avenue in celebration of a South or Central American country.  I see the delight in the faces of children from Guatemala or Mexico, Peru or Columbia, Brazil or Ecuador who are new to this country or first generation Americans.  I also see the faces of parents and grandparents who are proud of their ethnic culture and proud to be here.

Ethnic pride

A variety of religious events bring a feeling of pride to those who belong to the various religions around town. There are sometimes parades, sometimes outdoor services, sometimes grand occasions.  Many are proud of the churches built by their ancestors.  A church I attended was built by our German ancestors over one hundred years ago.  It stands proudly on its corner with a tower visible for miles.  Certainly the founders of our German American neighborhood would be proud to know their ancestors still come to this corner to attend mass and celebrate the founding of our church and school.  Many of the ancestors are in fact proud to be here.  All of the great religions can claim a home in Chicago.

We celebrate the culture of our colors as well.  Asian American Resource and Cultural Center, Native American Center, Du Sable Museum of African-American History all take pride in having a home here.  The events rooted in the background of color are a source of honor for many.  Indeed, Black Pride takes an important role in the cultural life of a city for more than just one month a year.  We are the proud home of the roots of jazz and blues and the unique contribution of black Americans to our nations music.  We are also proud to be the home of the first black president.

French visitor at Du Sable Museum, Chicago

If I was to pull up the calendar of events for the City of Chicago, I would likely find more celebrations of heritage than I could reasonably report in this space.  There is so much to be proud of that a simple report just would not suffice.  This weekend I would find one that you might question.  Many question it, and they should get an answer.

Why is there “Gay Pride?” Is this something to be proud of?  Why are so many people partying in the streets?  Why do we need a parade?  We don’t have Hetero Pride Day.  Why is this something special?  Sexual orientation does not seem like the thing to parade in the streets.  Who you love does not seem to be a reason for a parade, although perhaps it should be.

For a particular group of citizens who often felt isolated, it is important to come together to remember that you are not alone.  If your sexual orientation is not the majority, you are different.  If you grew up, as most did, afraid to express who you are, it is not unusual to come to celebrate the man or woman you tried to deny for many years.  Last year it was estimated that over 1 million people jammed the parade route in Chicago.  If the weather is good, we are likely to see the same again.

Pride Parade, Chicago

I have only been to the parade a few times.  It is long, boring, and overcrowded.  It seems every local politician is in the parade along with every large corporation that wishes to curry favor with the LGBT community.  The neighborhood has a perimeter that makes it difficult to get in and out for hours before the event, to hours afterward. Local business are crowded and it is tough to find a seat anywhere.

Despite that, a million people are proud to be there.

“YOU’VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT” – BY ELLIN CURLEY

There’s a beautiful and poignant song in the musical “South Pacific”, by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. It’s called, “You’ve got To Be Carefully Taught”. It opens with the lines “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, you’ve got to be taught from year to year.”

I’ve been thinking about those lyrics recently. I was struck by a common statistic in both the Brexit vote in the UK and our election of Donald Trump. In the UK, the voters who voted most heavily anti-immigrant and anti-EU, were from areas that had few to no immigrants. The open-minded, pro-immigrant, pro EU voters were clustered in the areas with the highest volume of immigrants. Interesting.

The same phenomenon repeated itself in the United States. Trump supporters accepted, if not endorsed his xenophobic, anti-Muslim, racist rhetoric and dog whistling. His voters were concentrated in areas that were most heavily white, with the lowest number of immigrants and other racial minorities. The cities, where immigrants and minorities are concentrated, were across the board Democratic and anti-Trump.

It seems that if you have contacts with minority groups, or people not exactly like yourself, you accept them and don’t fear them. If these groups of people are total unknowns to you, you’re open to believing all the negative rhetoric about them. You’re open to seeing them as dangerous and destructive to you and your way of life.

At first I thought this was counter intuitive. But I realized that it makes perfect sense. When you live among a diverse group of people, you see that everyone, regardless of race, nationality or religion, shares your life experience. Most important, you see all other people as individuals. To you, they’re not, nor can they be seen as, a monolithic, mysterious blob of humanity, threatening everything you hold dear.

On a personal note, I grew up in New York City. Even in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, I saw different races and nationalities everywhere. I also went to integrated schools. When I was four years old, I had an eye-opening experience that I still remember. I’m a Jewish caucasian. My beloved Nanny was a Christian black woman.

To me, Ethie was part of the family. She was just like me in every way. The first time that belief was challenged was when something came up about her going to church. It suddenly hit me that Ethie wasn’t JEWISH! She wasn’t just like me, she was different in some ways. It still didn’t register on me that her skin was a different color. That didn’t even show up on my four-year old radar. I just remember grappling with the idea that Ethie was not really family.

She was not JUST LIKE US. She was, in some crucial way, different. I didn’t love her any less. I learned something that day. That I could love someone who wasn’t exactly like me. Different was okay.

So, I guess isolation from different religious and ethnic groups leaves you susceptible to hate and fear. Here are the rest of the words to that touching and oh, so true song:

You’ve got to be taught

To hate and fear,

You’ve got to be taught

From year to year,

It’s got to be drummed

In your dear little ear

You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid

Of people whose eyes are oddly made,

And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,

You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,

Before you are six or seven or eight,

To hate all the people your relatives hate,

You’ve got to be carefully taught!

THANKSGIVING IS NOT EVERYONE’S HOLIDAY

For the past few years, there has been an increasing clamor to make everything shut down for Thanksgiving, supposedly so everyone can spend time with their family. Nice, well-meaning sentiment, on the face of it. Except for all the people who don’t have families with whom to celebrate. Or who are estranged from (or just plain don’t like) their family, what about them? Are you making their lives better? Do they want the day off? Did you ask any of them?

And then, there are Native Americans who don’t think celebrating the arrival of armed Europeans who would steal their land, infect them with diseases, and try in every way they could to murder all of them, is something to celebrate. Or the struggling families who count on extra money from working holidays to help them survive.

rockwell-thanksgiving-glutton

Everyone doesn’t celebrate the same way. Or want to. Some folks prefer to work holidays. They would rather work than sit around their empty rooms feeling left out of America’s favorite dinner party and maybe need the extra pay. Or they don’t like Thanksgiving, for whatever reason — and it is their right to feel that way.

I understand the sentiment, where it’s coming from. To me, it’s one more example of how we try to force everyone to march in lock step. As if we are all the same or at the very least, we all should be. Above all, we should want to be.

I would appreciate it if you righteous people would shut up already. This is a diverse country. That’s not just something we say during an election year. It’s a real thing. As a nation, we supposedly treasure diversity as much as any other freedom. So let’s leave a little room for people to express their differences as well as their similarities, shall we?

We do not all need (or want) to eat turkey. With or without gravy.