Monthly Archives: January 2009

The World Was Watching

Once a month, I have dinner with four friends — four bright, funny lesbians. There’s lots of laughter and an incredible amount of irreverence, and I look forward to it every month. Tonight, as it was mentioned that Obama signed legislation today to close Guantanamo and put an end to interrogation techniques that involve torture, someone made the statement, “Can you believe we are even having this conversation?”

Think about that for a moment. An American president officially ending America’s official, supposedly lawful, policy of torture.

During Tuesday’s inauguration, I watched as the cameras panned the millions of people on the Washington Mall. I saw tears in so many eyes and was amazed at the depth of emotion that I felt. I realized that this outpouring was not just for the man being sworn in on the platform — it was for the country that elected him.

And, all of a sudden, I understood a movie I recently saw, Valkyrie.

I’d enjoyed it and I learned a lot. I had no idea they came so close to assassinating Hitler and replacing his government. But I wondered about the central figure of the movement, Colonel Klaus von Stauffenberg (played by Tom Cruise). He was considered a war hero after being severely wounded in Africa. He had a wife and several small children. Yet, even with so much to lose, he was willing to risk it all. High ranking officers in Hitler’s inner circle, like von Stauffenberg, knew that Germany was within months of defeat, but still they made this final assassination attempt. And the reason they did this was to show the world that all Germans were not like Hitler.

That’s what I felt on Tuesday as I knew the world was watching.

No, I’m not comparing George Bush to Adolph Hitler — I actually think Bush is probably a decent guy. But the idea that the end justifies the means sets a course down a very slippery slope. It may be a way to win a battle or even a war, but at what cost?

We still have a long way to go to be everything that was envisioned by our founding fathers, but we are better than what’s been presented over the last eight years.

It feels good to be back!

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JFK to Rick Warren

I have few memories of JFK before those surrounding his death. The doings of presidents meant little to a twelve year old back in 1963. But I remember exactly where I was the moment I heard that he had been shot. And I bet that most of you do, too. That’s a connection we will always share.

From then on he became “our president”. Who knows if he would have had a successful administration. Maybe — maybe not. What we do know is that he became a symbol for a new generation. And that symbol was immortalized in the words “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

When did we turn our backs on that sentiment? When did we decide that we have to go on the offensive every time something doesn’t go our way? When did it become about me instead of about us? Or am I being naive and its always been that way?

I know that Rick Warren was a poor choice for the inaugeration. But let’s face it, Barrack Obama has repeatedly said that it is his belief that we can disagree about certain issues but still find some common ground to work together. We are not going to like all of his choices — and neither is anyone else. Wouldn’t it be better to give him a chance to at least get sworn in before we judge what kind of a president he is?

Besides, if you think about it for a minute, which religious leader could have been chosen for the invocation that would have met with eveyone’s approval? Ah…maybe that should be the focus of some of this dispute.  There shouldn’t be an invocation during the inaugeration. No matter who does it — no matter what they say — a large number of American citizens will be offended and feel as if their beliefs are not being honored. That’s the whole point of separation of church and state.

I think we’re a little scared. We’ve allowed ourselves to believe that it was our turn to take our equal place in society. We got bruised pretty badly in November. Now, we’re wondering if Obama said all the things we wanted to hear so that we would help get him elected.

Personally…..I’m still hopeful. I’m still excited about the inaugeration. If Rick Warren starts spouting religious hogwash, there’s always the volume control button on my remote.

This is going to be my president — I’ve waited a long eight years for him to get here.

Sometimes a Dime is Worth More Than Ten Cents

My partner saved dimes. I don’t know why. But they didn’t weigh much or take up a  lot of space, and it was one of those small things that made her happy. So, we filled jars and tins — until we would hit one of those really rough stretches. Then we would make lots of little stacks, count them and cash them in. She never seemed to mind having to spend them and sooner or later we would start filling containers again.

This morning, as I was about to get in my car, I spied a shiny dime in the grass right next to the driver’s door. My immediate reaction, before the rational side of my brain kicked in, was that it was a gift. A little sign that she’s still around and that she knows I’m having kind of a tough time. Knows I’m struggling with some decisions about moving on and that she’s giving her blessing.

Naturally, that other part of my brain wanted to make the case that I had simply dropped the dime getting out of the car last night and it meant nothing. I thought about that for a moment. Certainly more rational. But…

You see, I’ve never believed that anything was meaningless. Or that something could be explained away as coincidence. Meaning comes from within each of us — it’s how we choose to respond, interpret, react to what we encounter in life.

Finding that little dime gave me an instantaneous shot of happiness. Whether I dropped it or it appeared for some other reason is irrelevant. The result, the meaning for me, was the same. It put me in touch with what I already know — the awareness that it doesn’t matter whether I’m making the “right” decision or not. It’s simply time for me to make some sort of movement forward.

And that I’ve always had her blessing — no matter what — and that I will always take it with me, no matter where I go.

Maybe I’ll hang on to the dime. Just in case I forget…..