A Still Life of Real Life

The Observer headline uses appeared to lower gun  to describe the action of Danquirs Franklin just before he is killed by CMPD.

However, I see a crouched man with the left side of his body turned toward the officer,  his right foot planted. Mr. Franklin’s entire body language screams sudden movement, perhaps a pivot towards the officer as he rises to a threatening position.

Anyone is entitled to interpret  a stilled scene., but you be that officer, when everything is moving, and decide what you would do. However,  before you decide, take lots of  time  to evaluate Mr. Franklin’s body language in the photograph on the front page of the Observer. Time the CMPD officer did  not have.

    A Fifth Green Blazer, an Exemption, and Number 52 Straight

 

Not that long ago, many folks wrote Mr. Woods off as a contender. Today, after much work and many great shots, he proved that he, nor any serious athlete, should ever be written off. Five wins in Augusta is quite remarkable, and something I do not fully understand, but fully appreciate. However, tomorrow is the running of the 123rd Boston Marathon, an event that I am more familiar with since I have raced it and many other marathons as a runner and as a hand cyclist.

For whatever reason, many outlets have written about NASCAR driver, Jimmie Johnson, running in tomorrow’s race, his first marathon. Five years ago he ran a 1 hour 28 minutes and 16 second half-marathon. From what I gathered in the article of my local newspaper; he sees this time as an indicator for a sub-three hour run. What the heck, since it was a half, just double the time, right?? Well, no, because as an athlete he should know that the second half is more difficult than the first half, for obvious reasons. What galls me most, however, is that Johnson has not qualified for the race, he was given an exemption by Gatorade, a long-time personal sponsor. He says that he desired to qualify the old-fashioned way, but his NASCAR racing prevented him from running a qualified time. Over 7,000 runners who ran qualifying races were turned away by the BAA because of safety concerns, especially at the start. However, the privileged boy of Gatorade lines up in Wave 2, wearing 4848 because an elite runner, Jonathan Mott, is wearing number 48. Poor Johnson. For many factors, I predict that Johnson will falter: his training, his inexperience at the distance, the course (first ten miles are downhill, giving a false sense of pace), and the Boston weather.

Ben Beach of Bethesda, Maryland will line up for his 52-straight run at Boston. Way back in 1968, as a high school senior, he ran his first Boston. His time in that race was 3:04, a time Johnson would like to run tomorrow. Beach’s best at Boston, Now in his late 60’s, he is happy to be on the course and is pushing to pass Johnny Kelly’s number of runs for Boston. Tomorrow a time around five hours would satisfy, double his best time.

Woods fought hard and came back, at least for this Masters. Beach, dystonia and all, continues to run each third Monday of April in Boston. Johnson is given an exemption. Let’s hope he makes the most of it.

“Come and See”

 

Philip spoke the above three words to answer a question by Nathanael who when told of the presence of  Jesus of Nazareth  asks, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?”  This is, on the surface, a fair question since the poor village of Nazareth was known for the  Roman garrison, the despised rulers of the Jews, that was stationed there. Is Nathanael prejudice or realistic?

In Latin any foreign person was labelled barbarus, and the Greek word for any person who did not speak the cultured language was barbarous. Nathanael, a learned Jew, expressed the prejudice of his culture: Nazareth was a crude and barbaric village.

Later in the Gospel of John, we are told of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. The hate between the Jews and Samaritans was palatable. But we are given this story and the parable of the Good Samaritan.  More prejudice.

Recently, in Chicago, a well-known comedian and actor attempted to use our prejudices against President Trump supporters, blacks, and homosexuals to gain some kind of pathetic support for him and his floundering career.

A few days ago the main building of the historic (civil rights)  Highlander School in Tennessee was burned. A “white power” symbol was painted in the parking lot of the destroyed building.

In the just published April 1 Washington Post Magazine, is an article about the 1975 disappearance of the Lyon sisters from a Wheaton, Md. shopping center. In the article the writer Mark Bowden describes members of the Welch family, who were involved in the horrific rape and murder of the sisters as, “the clan”; coming from “mountain-hollow ways”; as having a “suspicion of outsiders”,  “an unruly contempt for authority of any kind”, “a knee-jerk resort to violence;” and “Most shocking were its [Welch family] sexual practices. Incest was notorious in the families of the hollers of Appalachia,…”

One last example. . A recent film is being touted as a “must see” for people who support abortion. All and well. However, way back in 1975-’76, the surgeon Richard Selzer wrote the essay “What I Saw at the Abortion: The doctor observed, the man saw.”  A simple internet search will bring up the essay. Read it but pay attention to its sub-title before you do.

In none of the above examples of prejudice, except the first, is the invitation to “Come and see” what you are speaking against. Those three words carry power. They place the cure for prejudice on the pre-judging person. What would happen if the pre-judger sat with the woman at the well and heard her story? Can the hating burners of the Highland School not learn from its historical involvement in the civil rights movement? A talk with supporters of President Trump probably will reveal that they,  too, have their humanity and its inherent struggles. Let people who see themselves burdened with an unwanted pregnancy read what the man Richard Selzer saw while watching his first abortion.

“Come and see,” Philip says as he invites a fellow seeker to examine his own mis-conceptions. Prejudice is  real and comes in many colors and forms. But all is an evil that need not exist, if we all “Come and see.”

 

 

Prejudice

Like many residents living in the Washington, DC area in 1975, I read about the disappearance of the Lyon sisters in Wheaton, Maryland. Since then I have moved, but on occasion read other reports about the unsolved crime. Today, April 2, 20019, I read an on-line article from The Wheaton Md. Patch discussing the crime and a new book telling how the murder of the two young sisters was solved after forty years. Alessia Grunberger posted her article at 4:15 PM ET on 4-2-19. I quote from that post:
“In 2014, detectives began investigating Welch’s family.
The clan had two branches, one in Hyattsville, Md., and the other five hours southwest, on a secluded hilltop in Thaxton, Va., a place the locals called Taylors’s Mountain, ” the Post wrote. “Here the family’s Appalachian roots were extant, even though some members had gradually moved into more modern communities in and around Bedford, the nearest town. While its environs were markedly different, the branch in Maryland clearly belonged to the same tree.
The family’s mountain-hollow ways—suspicion of outsiders, and unruly contempt for authority of any kind, stubborn poverty, a knee-jerk resort to violence—set it perpetually at odds with mainstream suburbia. Most shocking were its sexual practices. Incest was notorious in the families of the hollers of Appalachia, where isolation and privation eroded social taboos. The practice came north with the family to Hyattsville….”
At 6:14 PM ET, her post was updated to the following:
“In 2014, detectives began investigating Welch’s family, which had branches in Hyattsville, Md. and in the rural area of Thaxton, Va., a place the locals called Taylor’s Mountain.”
I am glad that someone saw the slurs in the first post and removed them. By the way “Grunberger writes her first post, she seems to be quoting an article in the Washington Post. However, her quoted words may be hers: I am not sure. But I am certain of the prejudice and malice expressed in them. Such words and phrases as “clan.” “locals,” “mountain-hollow ways,” and “Incest was notorious in the families of the hollers of Appalachia, ….” show contempt for a class of people.
We view prejudice as a black/white issue. But here in an article from the Washington, DC news media, it rears its ugly and evil head. I hope the Post or Patch or both will do better in the next posting.

Skandalon

 

Some of the “news” this week is not that new. I refer to the American grandmother who gave birth to her grandchild. A quick internet search showed that this same thing happened in 2011, or maybe even earlier. One grandmother in Wales carried her grandchild because her daughter had no womb.  However, I suspect that what made this American grandmother’s pregnancy so newsworthy is the fact that she carried a grandchild for her son and his male mate by using her son’s sperm and an egg of the other man’s sister.  Quite a scientific accomplishment which satisfied a desire of a homosexual couple to have a child.

What was done for the homosexual couple was not, in today’s world,  that unusual for science.  We have twin granddaughters who speak of their  biological father as “the donor”, a well-researched sperm donor who may or may not ever meet his children. A nephew and his male partner have three children under the age of one year. The older child was born using my nephew’s sperm and a surrogate. Within a year, twins were born using his partner’s sperm and the egg of a surrogate.

I share these two stories to let you know that, while not an expert, I have a personal history with some of our new ways of having children. It is a far way from the world I grew up in when a young man had to buy “protection” against an unwanted pregnancy from a machine in a gas station rest room, and the “protection” also helped prevent the little known STDs of that era. An unwanted pregnancy in those days, the 1960s, was viewed as an embarrassment and the woman was treated only a bit better than the sexual sinners of Hawthorne.  Unplanned pregnancies in by-gone days resulted in the child being “given up” for adoption. Today, many biological parents are young, so young that their situation is referred to as “babies having babies.” Yet, mores change, and television, that great reflector of culture, now shows homosexual and mixed-race couples. They touch. Kiss. Show all the emotions of Adam and Eve.  However, what concerns me most as a Christian is not these  new images of our culture. While I may or  may not agree with them, I am more concerned with other issues that are not all that new.

 Things change. For example, I graduated high school in 1964—all white graduates. At my church, no blacks ever walked through its door. Yes, “mixing” between blacks and whites took place, such as in the case of Senator Strom Thurmond. But those were hushed. In my high school there was one know homosexual male, and two older man  always hovered. These things were with us, but not publicly acknowledged or accepted as now.  Mixed couples are, at least on the surface, accepted.  However, the homosexuals are hotly discussed by Christians.

So often in our church, I hear the phrase, “We are all sinners,” or “We are born into sin.” If that is true, and I believe so, then the ministers, deacons, mixed-race couples, and homosexuals are sinners. But it seems to me we stumble over the sin of homosexuality.

For instance: A divorced man, I teach an adult  Sunday School class. Jesus clearly states that I am a sinner for that and my adultery.  If I were homosexual, would I be allowed to teach a  Sunday School class?

I suggest that Christians understand the sins of the Commandments because they have broken one or more of them.  I understand the sad consequence of adultery because I have lived it, and that makes it easier for me to accept and love a fellow sinner because he or she has acted like me. The sin of homosexuality is foreign to me, but the sinner of it is not.

Let us concentrate on curing cancers such as gossip, hunger, inadequate housing and clothing,  and all the others. Not stumbling over the fellow sinner, homosexual or other, will make us all stronger and better.

 

 

 

Ear Phones

 

 

The morning’s spring weather brought out more exercisers on our Lake Norman road than usual. Riding my stationary bike, I exchanged greetings with Joan and Ethel, two neighbors who walk every morning. One lone cyclist sped by, his wheels singing a fast clip on the asphalt.

Gaining my rhythm, I noticed a lone female figure coming from the end of our peninsula. She jogged on the shoulder and worked her way toward me and an unknown destination. Then, way behind her came another female figure, but I could tell that this second one running.

Continuing my workout, I glanced often to check the progress of both figures. One graceful. One awkward. As the jogger neared me, I noticed her high arm carriage and that she swayed from side to side because of her arm motion. Now, don’t get me wrong, I admire her work, but as a past coach, I wished I could have talked running posture with her. Correct arm carriage would make her work easier. She also had a belt around her waist which carried items such as a water bottle and other things I could not identify. She slogged past me on the far side of our road, and I saw that she wore ear phones. Perhaps whatever she was listening to made her workout easier. Or so she thought.

The second figure came closer into view. I admired her good foot step, erect carriage, and smooth arm motion. While she had not caught the jogger, she would within a few yards. The only commonality they had was that the runner also wore ear phones.

I will not argue with any male or female exercises who thinks that by listening to music or whatever while doing their workout they do better. That’s what he or she believes. As a marathoner, I never wore them because I believed that I would perform better by fully concentrating on my foot plant and  upper body posture. I understand the opinions; however, I encourage any female who uses ear phones while running to stop the practice for her safety.

Our dead-end road is, I believe, a safe road for walkers, joggers, riders, and any other visitor. However, that is only my belief. Sadly, our culture has problems that no movement, no matter how good, can eliminate. Movements like #ME,TOO have done much to make the workplace safer for women. Laws that protect the less able have changed our society for the better. As a wheelchair user, I appreciate equal access. All of this, and much more, is good. However, I have never heard of a male jogger or runner being assaulted, and we have yet to find a way to stop men from raping or assaulting women who are vulnerable.

The two females I saw this morning are strangers. Having ridden on this road for two years, I have come to know most regulars. Perhaps they are vacationing on Lake Norman or have just moved to the area. I don’t know. But I do know that neither one of them would be able to physically repel a male. Yes, the jogger may have carried mace in her belt. But could she have gotten to it when a male grabbed her from behind, pinning her arm or arms. The fact is that men are usually stronger than women. Now, I would tell any male who wanted to take on one of the Williams sisters to re-think his wish. I  understand, and appreciate, the exceptions. However, the two females I saw this morning would not hear someone coming up to them because of the ear phones. That is an unnecessary risk.

If you exercise in open spaces, no matter how crowded, and are a female, re-consider using ear phones so that you can hear your surroundings, and this  is true for males. You will, I hope, come to appreciate the sounds of nature and learn to concentrate on your form. If you are ever at Lake Norman, come by, and we can discuss your running form—without earphones.

Arrogance from Privilege

 

A county sheriff sets up a speed trap and issues twenty-one tickets in two hours to drivers going more than ten miles per hour over the posted speed limit of 35 mph. That seems to me to be quite a bit of tickets and proves that the street has a problem with speeding. So, why would any resident complain about their streets being made safer?

Elected officials of Cornelius, North Carolina, and the home of Jetton Road where the speed trap was, immediately received calls,  likely from the folks living at the end of Jetton Road where houses sell normally for more than one million dollars. Heavy taxpayers, the wealthy and 94% white residents of the area, demanded answers for many questions. The pro tem Mayor of Cornelius had no knowledge of the speed trap, so Michael Miltich invited Sheriff Garry McFadden to meet with the Cornelius town commissioners and residents.

Now, think about it: a speed trap, many drivers “caught”, word of the trap spreads, drivers slow down. Where is the problem? Try this for an answer: The people of that area are wealthy and mostly white. They were inconvenienced and some were caught speeding. They resented the presence of twelve deputies in their neighborhood. So, because of their wealth and privilege they “invite” the county sheriff to come visit and discuss vital issues surrounding the speed trap. Here are some of the questions they asked Sheriff McFadden:

Why were the Cornelius Police not notified of the pending speed trap?

Why was the speed trap on the Sunday of the NBA all-star game?

Why were there twelve deputies involved in the speed trap?

What was the expense of the speed trap?

Now, I don’t know about you, but only one of those questions seems valid to me, and the Sheriff promised to improve communications with towns in Mecklenburg County. And, that question could have been settled by a phone call or email. But the last three are questions only privileged folks dare ask. Can you imagine a resident of West Charlotte asking any of those? That never would happen for the reasons of wealth, whiteness, and the privilege granted by our  culture to those who possess such power.

Yes, Sheriff McFadden is an elected official, thus he is bound to answer just questions of any county resident. However, to  ask  him such a question as the second is absurd and points to the arrogance of white power. And, sadly, Sheriff McFadden knew this during the meeting.

I applaud Sheriff McFadden. He was summoned to a meeting in Cornelius which would be, if not all, a room filled with white folks. He was summoned to answer questions that sought understanding and wisdom but demonstrated power. The folks in that room had been, as I said, inconvenienced. They, in their insulated lives, felt threatened by a public servant trying to  make their streets safer. So, not possessing the courage to examine their habit, they attacked. How dare he invade their golden ghetto on a special Sunday afternoon of planned parties?

I live on Isle of Pines Road in Mooresville, and we have a problem with speeders. Sheriff McFadden send twelve deputies with radar guns here. I will not complain.