Monday, November 14, 2016

What fresh hell is this?



The quote "What fresh hell is this?" has been attributed to humorist Dorothy Parker, who is said to have said this whenever she answered her door or phone. (It is also the title of the 1989 Dorothy Parker biography written by Marion Meade.) I think it is an entirely appropriate response to the recent U.S. election. Over my lifetime I have seen presidents that I did not vote for take office. I have seen presidents that I truly did not like or trust take office. My response to our current president elect is "Not my president.". I was saying that before  I saw #notmypresident appearing everywhere. Donald Trump is not my president, nor will he ever be.

I am a writer - this is my writer's blog. I have other blogs for other things. What I am going to ramble on about today is addressed to the individuals that follow this blog, many of whom are also writers. One of my Facebook friends posted a sincere question asking which are the best ways to contact our government representatives: by letter, by e-mail, by phone, or by signing petitions. That got me past my anger and shock at the election, and started me thinking about how can I, as an individual, and as a writer, be part of the wave that will hold this president and his appointees accountable, and block or tone down the worst that is to come. My response to the Facebook post was letter, e-mail, and phone, in that order. I sign petitions (after I have vetted them), but I do not feel that they have that much affect.

Immediate response to Donald Trump winning this election: David Duke and the KKK announcing, a parade for Trump in North Carolina (that was denounced by the NC Republican party, as well as the Trump campaign). Protesters on the streets yelling #notmypresident. The Canadian immigration website crashed due to the traffic it received from Americans upset over the election.. A businessman that I follow on Facebook is moving his businesses to Canada (this is already a fait accompli). My friends and I are in shock, unable to even imagine the changes to our lives that the president elect will bring.

Senator Bernie Sanders wrote an excellent article on the election, and where we are now. A very balanced view, IMHO.

What we do know is that we must get on with our lives. The best suggestions that I have seen in the days since the election are to become involved, to not allow our government to run our lives without standing up for ourselves. We have the right to protest. It got a bit out of hand in the streets, but the election was a bitter one, with many outright lies told. People have a right to be mad - to protest. I was happy to see that our young people, our future voters, protested. On the day of the inaugeration there is a Million Woman March planned for Washington DC. We will continue to see more and more of  this.

Trump himself has current court cases against him, incuding a fraud case involvng Trump University. There are legal questions about the Trump Foundation, and his business ties to Russia. Here are a few of the things that we might expect from him once he takes office: economic plan, birth control, climate, and immigration, U.S. economy, first 100 days.

We can fuss about all of this or we can take responsibility for ourselves and look at what we can do to follow our beliefs, to do what we feel to be right, to protect our rights, and the rights of others. To find a starting point, we canbreak down the areas in which we can take action: (1) within our own homes, (2) within our communities, (3) within our town/cities, (4) within our states, within our country, (5) globally.

Within our own homes: Here is where we define our beliefs, our morals, our ethics, and our goals. Once we have defined these areas, we have defined ourselves. Our words and actions need to be in line with our beliefs, morals, ethics, and goals. We need to reflect our authentic self. It is also within the home that we define what issues we want to actively support outside of the home. For me this would be animal rights, the rights of women and children, the right to decent healthcare, the right to a decent education, and being supportive of mother earth.

Within our communities: For me, my time, effort, and money needs to be spent within my community first. I help whenever and wherever I can. I educate mysef on the issues, and I vote. I shop locally whenever I can. For me, this means to balance my Internet spending with "real time" spending. It might be more expensive to shop locally, but we need to keep local shops open, to literally keep our money local. I support holiday food drives - fiinancially and with canned goods and non-perishable items. I support local animal shelters, and those who help animals. Here is a link for writers and teachers that want to help.

Within our towns/cities: One of the best tools that we have is our connection to our political representatives, and our vote. I keep up with the issues, and give my input. I doubt that any of us will ever forget what a bad election the recent election was. It resulted in a totally inappropriate individual taking the highest office in this land. We need to work very hard to limit his effect over the enxt four years, and to make the 2020 election a reflection of our priorities. We need to speak up when we see inequalities - such as racial bias (whether it is being expresssed by an individual, or by an organization, such as the police department). We need to back our cultural organizations/events. Without money, there will be no arts, no dance, no theater. Do we really want to lose this precious reflection of who we are?

Within our states/country: Our local and national governments need to reflect who we are as a people. We need to fund education. We need to fund culture. We need to keep up our infrastructure, before it falls down around us. We need to protect our right to free speech, to free expression. We need to protect state/national resources. Whatever we can do to support this is necessary, whether it is our voices being known, whether is is through voluteer work, or whether it is financially. We need to do whatever we can do.

Globally: If we are doing all that we can do on each of hte other levels, we will be going a long way taking care of issues on the global front. We cannot advocate globally for that which we are not willing to work for locally. The global community is mankind on a very wide level. We may tend to think of it as big business to the nth degree, because I think we all realize that big business expresses itself through its political funding. We need to remember that each country is made up of individuals, just like ourselves. We can give input to our politicians. We can work through specific groups. We can respond to national emergencies as individuals. We can work through our various religious organizations. We can make sure that the picture other countries see of us reflects who we are, as much as who our politicians are. And we need to remember that "talking down" another country or culture helps no one.

Whatever you decide to do, however you decide to express yourself, the first thing that you want to do is to vet the individual, company, or situatio at hand. Get as much information as you can before you form your opinion, and take your action. Make the decision to get your thoughts/needs out there. Use the skills and abilities that you were gifted with to make a better world. As writers, and as individuals, we can do this!

(c) November 2016 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written consent of the author.     

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Impressions



As those of you who follow this blog will know, I am very fond of my Great Auntie Vee. She was a teacher, and a very caring, gentle person. In doing some cleaning this past few days, I came across another lovely book of hers - "The Birds' Christmas Carol", by Kate Douglas Wiggin (author of "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm", amongst other books). The publisher is Houghton Mifflin Company, with a copyright date of 1888.

The book is small - 69 pages. I immediately sat down to read it. I noted that my my Great Aunt had written her name in the front of the book, as she was wont to do, with the word "personal" above it. I was in my own little world - holding something that my Great Aunt had held, that was published by a cmpany that I hold in high esteem.  

The storyline is that of a Victorian family, at Christmas time. On Christmas Day, the mother gives birth to a beautifu baby girl. They call her Carol, as the mother hears Christmas carols being sung right after the birth. All goes well with Carol, and her older brothers, until the age of five. Then Carol becomes ill, and eventually is bedridden.

On her tenth Christmas, Carol experiences a strong wish to give to others. Her solution is to have a Christmas party, in her bedroom, for a neighboring family of poor children. Games, Christmas dinner, a Christmas Tree, and Christmas presents ... it is a great and wonderful day.  Thhat night, as her family is listening to Christmas carols, Carol passes away. But she is happy, and her family is happy.

This all sounds like a huge "spoiler", and perhaps it is. This is a lovely book, and I am very happy to see that it is still available. Pure Victorian sentiment, with incredible Victorian artwork through out the book. It is amazing!

But this is not all that I found in this book. I started to see small notes, written in light pencil, throughout this book. My Great Aunt was marking scenes, which told me that she was involved with putting this on as a play, perhaps with her students, or perhaps with the children in her church. How much do we learn about people through what we leave behind!

This is something to keep in mind as keepers of our family's records, but also something to keep in mind as writers, which many of you following this blog may be. What kind of legacy do you want to leave?

(c) November 2016 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written consent of the author.  

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