Our New ‘Retirement’ Home

Institutionalized . . .

We constantly hear about prisons as a new prison site is being chosen. I have written about prisons, and no doubt will again, but for today, here I go. I spent 5-6 years going to the prison as a volunteer teacher, in Medium Security, was an official witness at the Bishop execution, and so learned a bit more about prisoners than before stepping inside those walls.

I was startled to find that all prisoners do not hate ‘that place’ and often heard the comment that they’d never had it so good, what with three meals, showers, clean clothes, recreational facilities, Heat and Cool Air as needed, and always a place to sleep.

It was a common phrase from the men, that if he were ever ‘freed’, the first thing he’d do would be to commit a crime so he would be sent back. And the nodding heads around the room made me know that it wasn’t a one-man attitude.

And I found that while we think of prison as punishment, most of those 45 or more years old, think otherwise.

To my shock, I found they had their plans for Retirement, just as people ‘on the outside’ do. But with a difference. The older (see above) planned on staying right where they were. Planned Retirement was a real thing to them, and Ethel was slowly getting an insight into Prison life that the average person could not get. And was appalled for they, if freed, even knew which crimes to commit to get back in, based on how long the sentences would be. They know all about that stuff and aren’t aiming for either Minimum or Maximum Security, just nice comfortable Medium.

My thinking began changing. They are required to do nothing except obey prison rules, and, while I’m sure my words will not fit the younger, short term prisoners, but almost all of the older group, are, by and large, contented to be right where they are.

Yes, there are some who came from affluent homes, but a goodly part of the prison population did not, and for the first time in their lives, they have a security they’d never dreamed of having.  With not one cent of expense to them.

But even those who came from homes with the basics given, wish to remain where they are. They know that with time, all families change, and after long years of imprisonment, they know that the family they left is no longer there.

My thinking continued to change. Everything is free, and for the first time in their lives their every need is given to them, and I realized that we have made prisons into very comfortable ‘homes’ for those there in Medium Security, where the sentences are longer, the men older.

The old stereotype of the Chain Gangs in our Southern States was appalling to us, but those men were forced to work and in some way, pay for their keep. Not one of those prisoners were planning on how to remain in prison for a long time, much less for retirement.

I don’t know how it could work, but I came to think that prisoners should be forced to work. And there would be great uproar from people who would say, they are taking jobs from people outside who need the work. Yes, in some ways that’s legitimate, but there must be some answer, for to tell the truth, we have made prison life too comfortable for  the large number of  mature prisoners.

Farms, laundry, cleaning, yard work, painting, upkeep of any kind could be done by the prisoners and while security would be needed, the prisoners should be forced to work. Instead, they get movies, winter and summer recreational equipment. And no-cost classes by volunteers such as I was.

Recently, there have been several Federal Prisons built for older prisoners, who, like people outside, have developed Alzheimer’s and other old age maladies that require the care given on the ‘outside’ by Care Centers. Prisoners from all States, are now sent to Federal Care Centers, where specially trained doctors and nurses are employed.

And who pays for it all? Foolish to ask, for you know it is your tax dollars which make it possible. The people on the ‘outside’, often even victims of those prisoners, must pay for not only their own care, but to also pay for those huge Care Centers being built, along with the upkeep and staff..

I don’t know the answer, but it must be there. When prisoners are actually planning prison to be their Retirement Home, we are helping them along, with these special prisons, built to cater to the prisoner’s needs. Not ours.

To so many prisoners, ‘that place’ is the best thing that ever happened to them;   It is not a punishment, but rather, their old age Insurance Policy. I struggled to NOT accept such an attitude, but the facts are there, and deeply imbedded, as well.

So, will the new prison we are soon to build, also turn into a Retirement Home? Worth thinking about, because, I assure you,  the prisoners are.

Hello Young Lovers – Redux

Ethel is ‘on assignment’ working at another project and won’t be posting a new blog this week.  So in order to hold up our end of the internet, the management and staff here at From Out My Window have decided to make an alternative posting;  we will look back and see what Ethel was writing three years ago this week, and publish it again.  It made for some wonderful teary eyes around here.


Oh, yes, yes, How much I did understand

I recently turned a hallway corner and startled a young couple holding each other closely, sharing a moment of love and tenderness.

As soon as they saw me, they hurriedly stepped apart, blushing, embarrassed, and their reaction was obvious, that I, of another generation, could not in any way, understand their actions or what they were feeling.

I was momentarily tempted to pause and tell them that indeed I did understand.  That I was intensely aware of their happiness, and  could feel the emotion that passed between them, because, as the old song says, ”I had a love of my own, you see, I had a love of my own.”

We live in a world that seems programmed to think that love, and all its glory that ‘makes life worth living’, is meant only for the young.  And that if you are 50, or anywhere beyond, that love is foolish and out of the question.  That any  marriage, at those ages, must be nothing but empty, hollow arrangements and could never have the least thing to do with that most ‘tender emotion.’

How wrong they are.  Oh, heavens, how wrong they are and how much they have to learn as they are taking their first startled steps into the world that is at the heart, and the reason for every birth, book, opera, song, poem, sculpture or work of art.

They were so young, so starry eyed and they think the joys and love they are experiencing can, in no way, be understood by people their parent’s age.  But they must be excused, because every generation thinks the wonders and joys of love and sex are unique to them.

It is the wise (blessed? lucky?) ones who go through the young infatuations, and though moved, recognize them for what they are. To enjoy, learn, but carefully, oh most carefully avoid any acts or commitments that could entail a child, marriage, and so often a divorce.

I read, and still like to refer to Margaret Mead’s book, the world-wide classic, Coming of Age In Samoa written in 1925, after she lived there as an Anthropologist.  Among other aspects of their life, Mead wrote of Coming of Age, or as we say, the Teen years. In Samoa at that time, love and sex were routinely expected, accepted, and tolerated with no criticism. She compared sex as arriving to those of those early years, like  flash fires, bolts of lightning and over just as quickly.

However, if a Samoan pair conceived a child, (and here their rules were adamant and frighteningly strict), and with no censorship, they were automatically considered ‘married’ and would continue that responsibility until the child (children) reached adulthood.  And horribly harsh punishments followed if those rules were ignored.

But then, when those ‘family’ years were completed, they had done their duty to the next generation and were free to do as they pleased, and again with no criticism.  What did it matter, they said. It is the children who are important and must be nurtured.

But back from Samoa to my encounter in that hallway.  Teen-age love comes, and goes, and that young pair I interrupted  has so much to learn.  How swiftly that first wild love can fling them into a marriage they’re not ready for.  A child?  A divorce?  And leaving both disillusioned, bitter and knowing that the rest of their lives have been irrevocably changed.

But life does not stand still. We get older, hopefully wiser and no matter how badly burned or blessed with that first Bolt of Lightning, time passes, life heals, and then another love enters people’s lives.  Not the same as the first,  not taking the place of any cherished memories, and not to be criticized or explained, but entirely different. And welcome.

Yes, I passed the young couple I had surprised without seemingly giving them more than a passing glance, but they could not and can not know what thoughts and  memories they stirred, and at the same time, what hopes and fears of where their  lives, almost out of their control, would now go.

I knew they thought I would/could not understand them, but I understood so well that a smile touched my lips as I recalled  another song that tells us  “Love is wonderful, the second time around.”  And whoever penned those words knew exactly what they were talking about.

And while we’re on the subject, and not in Samoa or even in that hallway, and as if you don’t already know, I’ll tell you a secret.   If you’re lucky, the third time is nothing  to be  underestimated either.  And a fourth time?  You’re asking the wrong person, but each one, in its own way, is distinct, different, wonderful.

Oh me, and all this from a moment’s encounter in a out-of-the-way hallway.

 

The Twelfth Hour

The Doldrums of Summer remain, and claiming another week of vacation, I choose to use a Blog of a few year’s back which (Thank you, thank you) garnered, much approval with good words sent to me. Hope you readers of years ago, as well as the new ones, will also like it. I still do.

 

It’s a poem written by some Wise American Indian Man or Woman and the words impressed me so much that I saved them, and as I pore over them again, I still shiver over the meaning and wish their Montana Paper were still being published. It was good.

THE TWELFTH HOUR

For long centuries the world’s been told
“This is the Eleventh Hour.”
And we felt it to be true.

But quietly, almost secretly, the 11th Hour passed
And now, the hoped for, but also feared,
Twelfth Hour is Here. No longer for some vague to-morrow,
BUT RIGHT NOW, THIS IS THE TWELFTH HOUR.

It is the time to know your own Truth,
And cease looking outward for another
To tell us what to think and do.

It can be a glorious time. for
The River is flowing fast.
So rapidly that many are afraid
And cling to the shore
Crying out that they are being torn to pieces.

But The River knows The Destination.
Let go of the shore and,
Dive joyously into the midst of the stream.

See who is with you and rejoice!
Look fearlessly at your fears
And never once reach back to the shore.
For whenever we stop to ask questions
Our Spiritual Journey also stops.

The River knows the Way and
Will carry us with it!
Look to no other for counsel
For the time of asking others is long past.
Be Still and allow yourself
To Know, and then to act in a sacred manner.

That Wondrous Hour
Is no longer anticipated
But is Here. Now. Today.

In deep humility know that
You chose to be part of the Change. And
You are one of those the world has long awaited.

Yes, we shiver, for we know the 11th Hour is past history. That cusp has been passed, and that it is now the 12th Hour. Long, long ago, in One of God’s Preparation Rooms, you and I held up our hands  and volunteered to be here, at this crucial, blessed time, and to do our part.

Read again the last line of that Wise Native American Poem. It says that You and I are part of Those Brave Long Awaited Ones. The ones the world has waited to welcome, and  now, we are here, and who can know, but perhaps we’ll be blessed to someday meet at The River’s Destination.  Why should it not be so? ??

Wake Up

Waking up, my way . . .

Sometimes there’s a moment when we awaken, but are still in that indescribably comfortable fetal position. where not a muscle moves, yet we know our sleep time is over…

It’s a priceless moment. Doesn’t happen often, so don’t be in a hurry. The Mind is very awake, but, at the same time, we see the body as a dormant ‘thing apart’ and know that the two have not yet become One for the day. It’s an odd happening, that of actually seeing, and experiencing our dual makeup. So take time to explore what’s going on. It’s all us, and we know it, but incredibly, we so seldom actually see our duality.

However, we also know it’s time to get up, but that fetal position is so wonderful we hate to break the spell.

So, begin to slightly wiggle your toes. No, NOT the foot, just the Toes. And not another muscle in your body, (when did we become one?) and the luxury of sleep only a breath away. But then, even as we watch the toes, slightly moving, we’re surprised to find that our fingers are stirring, too. Not the hands, not the feet, but although we didn’t tell our fingers to move, they are. What gives???

I’ve been told there is a relationship between our muscles. I don’t know how or why, but begin with just your toes, and soon we’ll find our fingers begin to move, then our hands. Our feet. And with no planning, maybe a shoulder will tense and relax, and then the other one.

Anyway within 5 or so minutes our entire body has stretched and relaxed. We are no longer in the fetal position, yet still on our back. The body and mind have fully made their connection, and all the result of just wiggling a toe or two.

It’s the neatest way to waken to the day that’s ever been invented. And who did invent it? The body? Mind?

Doesn’t matter, for we’re still in bed, stretched out on our backs, the covers are still around us, and, for me, this is the time, when without thinking of doing so, my arms reach up over my head, and as each arm stretches, I find the fingers stretch too, then the other hand and we’re awake and even might find ourselves yawning once or twice

Ok, ok, now clasp the hands over your chest, touching your chest, with one hand a fist and the other holding the fist. Push the right hand with the left hand resisting the movement, and then switch hands and push and resist the other way. You’re stretching the arm muscles to strengthen them.  No hurry, do it slowly.

And then do the same with the legs. Still on your back, bend and bring your feet close to your ‘sit down’ muscles. Clasp your hands around the left knee, and pull it up to your chin and then do the same with your other leg. We’re strengthening our body, and  though we’ve never yet left the bed yet, we’ve awakened every muscle in our body. Feels great, too.

And while I’m at this ‘healthy way to start to the day’ I remember what a doctor told me about weight.  Yeah, during pregnancies, doctors stress this for women. What he said was, go to the grocery store and pick up a ten-pound sack of sugar. Yeah, it’s heavy, and you’ll probably use both hands to do it. BUT THEN, pick up another, and dang it, it’s hard to hold two 10-pound sacks of sugar, but if we’re 20 pounds over weight, that’s what we’re carrying around.

And then just think if we’re 30 or 40 pounds over weight. Try, right there in the grocery store, carrying 3 or 4 ten-pound sacks of sugar. NO??? Well if we’re thirty pound over weight, the good doc said, think about it as carrying three ten pound sacks of sugar. And yet we all do it.

Well, enuff ‘body stuff’ for today, but the method of waking in the a.m. works and the ten Pound sack of sugar idea, is, in another way, a real awakener, too.

Who knows what I’ll write about next week, but for today??? Why not think about that body you walk around in.   It’s the only one you’ll ever get and replacements aren’t given out. So, let’s be kind to the one we have, from our first breath in the a.m. to when we crawl in again at night. Have a good one, I try, why not join me?

Quiz Time

Yes, it’s the hot, sweltering days of Summer and I’ve searched and found what Gerard Mosler sent me on another hot Summer day. I enjoyed his words (questions) and hope you do, too.

And it’s the perfect Quiz for such days as we are having. It’s a list of puzzle questions, and try not to peek at the answers at the bottom of my column, but, what the heck, it’s Summer. It’s hot. I don’t know who you are, so cheat on every one, if you want. I won’t know. And, if the truth be know, I cheated the first time (and the second time, too) that I read it. Who’s looking? Who cares?

1. Which was the smallest continent before Australia was discovered?

2. You have prepared ten pounds of peaches because you’re making jam. When you start to put them in the kettle, you remember the old recipe advised, for improved flavor, you to add the juice of a lemon for every dozen peaches. You don’t remember the number of peaches you’ve prepared, and so how can you determine the proper number of lemons to squeeze?

3. An old fashioned, antique six-day alarm clock will run at least five days without winding. True or false?

4. What is the only word to the English language that can be written without pen, pencil, chalk, or any other pigment?

5. Behind each girl is a boy. Behind each boy is a girl. What is the smallest number of children that will fulfill those specifications?

6. A planeload of famous people crashed near the boundary of two countries. A question of International Law arose about where to bury the survivors. It was finally decided that each country would bury half of them. Do you agree?

7. Can you make sense of the following sentence by adding to it question marks?  “Before popping the important man often time.”

8. Three women are standing under one umbrella without anybody’s getting wet. How is this done?

9. What word will be shorter if you add a syllable to it?

10.Can you tell in what case two times two is six.
 
ANSWERS

1. It has always been Australia whether we knew it was there or not.

2. Just count the peach pits.

3. No non-electric clock will run without winding, five days, five minutes or otherwise.

4. The word already is “written.”

5. One boy, one girl, standing back to back.

6. Who ever heard of survivors being buried?

7. Before popping the important QUESTION man often MARKS time.

8. It isn’t raining.

9. Short.

10. In no case!

See, I told you it was a ‘hot, sweltering summer day’ quiz. But Gerard Mosler must have enjoyed putting it together, and I enjoyed it enough to tuck it away to be found at a later date, and the same to you. And you. And you.

See you next week.

Amazing Grace

. . . in God’s eyes, we are One

I think that President Obama’s address, in So. Carolina, at the funeral rites of Reverend Pinckney, the murdered Leader of the AME Church there, and one of nine killed there, will stand in history along-side Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and will define what 160 years of The Nation’s emotional and physical evolution has brought about.

Lincoln and Obama, both spoke of the same turmoil in our Nation, but after that century and a half of time, and while the core of that turmoil might be the same, the Consciousness of the Nation has grown and matured, allowing Obama to speak from a different viewpoint.

He emphasized, as Lincoln did, that he spoke as OUR President, and to ALL of us, BUT inasmuch as so much has happened to ALL of us during that last century and a half, he was addressing a more mature, and I hope wiser people than Lincoln did.

He was also speaking as one who, at this time of turmoil, was also remembering that he, OUR respected President, is a product of both sides of the tension, and as such, how his heart bleeds with understanding for both.

And with that history, OUR President spoke as a man, who is in the position of political leader of ALL of us, and with his background, to be the one striving to bring understanding and peace to all, no matter from which creed, color or race.

And, with no apology, Obama, asked for the Grace of God to be upon both sides. Tears came to my eyes as I listened and sensed his feeling of understanding and empathy for both. Who could know better? Who else could speak out with such understanding and power?

Torn?   No, and that was the wonderful part of his words. Just as the families of those who were murdered in that So. Carolina Church, were calling upon forgiveness for both the Murdered, as well as forgiveness for The Murderer, so did Obama ask the same of us. Me and you and you and you. 

He spoke of God’s Grace, and knew that God did not separate people and that His Grace fell upon both sides, and that, in God’s eyes, there were not and never had been two sides, and reminded us of that Grace, and – – – suddenly my body shivered as he, my President, your President, with no introduction, began singing. Singing that familiar and wonderful hymn of “Amazing Grace”.  And not to the camera, not to the Press, but only from his own heart, did he sing.

And almost before that first phrase was complete, the congregation, one by one, two , three and then soon, everyone was standing and singing along with him. It was not a rehearsed moment. It was spontaneous, accompanied by claps of approval, different types of voices, but with the same words and emotions.

Our President was not speaking or singing for the Nation or the world, but was  speaking and singing for himself and to you and me and every person, who knows that at the Source, we are all One. And for all  to rise and praise That Source, for the last 160 years of  evolution of the Nation’s emotions, and brave enough to show our true feelings.

Forgiveness. The answer to all our problems, not only this particular  one, but the answer which covers all. Forgiveness not only for those others, but primarily, forgiveness of ourselves. Forgiveness for our actions. Forgiveness for our thinking.

Forgiveness that rises above our pain, our anger, or any justification. Obama, for that hour on June 26th, was more than our political leader, for at that time he bravely stepped forward, and spoke as a Spiritual leader as well.

He rose above all justified resentments, and spoke of the Oneness of All. And asked us to step forward with him. More bloodshed is not the answer, for as the song he was singing says, we are all sinners, “A Wretch like me”, is how the song tells us, and that wherever we are, whatever race we come from, whichever creed we follow – – – –  in God’s eyes, we are One. You, me, those people, as well as any other people,  we all seek Shelter under God’s Grace.

And if our President has the humility to speak and sing those words, in his untrained voice, to the Nation and world, so do I, and You, and You.

And I think, that somewhere, in one of God’s ‘Next Rooms’ Abraham Lincoln also stood, and with tears in his eyes, joined in the song of God’s Amazing Grace.

Our Dreams Bring Messages

. . .if we but listen, for dreams do not come with sub-titles.

And so we dream. Every night you go to bed and dream and every night, I also go to bed and dream.

We laugh and often our first words the next morning are “My gosh, I had the craziest (weirdest, saddest, sexiest, wildest, most puzzling) dream last night” and then tell all about it.

But once you begin to understand the meaning of your dreams, you stop broadcasting them to the world, for it’s most akin to you undressing in public. Rather, you share them with one you can trust implicitly, or save and ponder them in your own private, silent heart.

For the fact is, if it’s a dream we remember, we can be sure it has a message. For us. The dreams that are the result of eating, or drinking too much, a sudden noise, or getting twisted in the blankets, are meaningless and soon forgotten. But pay attention to those you remember. They are you, reaching out to you. 

I once had a horrible dream, repeated three consecutive nights. Oh, there were differences, but all with the same message, bothered me so much that it finally sent me to a doctor. Yes, and in less than one week, I was operated upon and said TYG many times over.

Our dreams, the experts tell, consist of the unconscious part of ourselves trying to communicate with our conscious part. My dreams are me, talking to me, and yours are you talking to you. Well, except for the ones mentioned above.

They are trying to give us a warning (see above) on some area in our life where we could use help or need some wise advice. And everything, every T-H-I-N-G, in that dream is us. If we see ourselves in a messy, cluttered house, that house is us, and the dream is telling us that something in our life, needs ‘cleaning up’.

And watch which room, bedroom, bath, kitchen, basement, garage, you’re in.  Upstairs? Your Higher Self.  Basement? Your Lower Self.

It all has meaning. Your car is you, and if you are driving up hill, good for you, you’re on the right course, and if going downhill, pay attention, for in some way, you’re headed the ‘other’ way. Bathrooms are clean-up messages, and are well worth pondering over.

Our dreams reflect the culture and thinking of the era we live in. When Freud first dipped into our dreams, he came up with the fact that 95% of dreams were concerned with sex. And he was right, too. For that day and age.

The world of his time was an inhibited place with sex a big unmentionable no-no. So, his clients, in that locked-in-concrete atmosphere, had dreams of sexual freedom. But, I understand, in today’s world, where there is sexual freedom never before known, our dreams are gradually reflecting a desire for change. Of course there are exceptions, but I understand that a ‘home, with a picket fence’ is beginning to be reflected in dreams. Oh, not for you, or me, but that’s what the experts are finding. No fooling.

Not Puritanism. but ’tis said, that when the pendulum goes too far either way, in any aspect of life, our dreams nudge us toward what is ‘normal, or a balance’.

We too are told to look at our dreams, as was Joseph, in Biblical times. And the same as with Joseph, everything is in symbols, left for us to interpret, for dreams do not come with sub-titles. To-day, the majority of our dreams (like it or not), are not of freedom of sex.

But remember, dream symbols are explicit. Terribly explicit. Surprisingly explicit. Sometimes horribly explicit. So if you decide to figure out what ‘You are trying to tell yourself’ don’t hide half your dream as being ‘not nice’, or shiver and say, “I would never do that”. Take a second look, knowing it’s only a symbol, and that every T-H-I-N-G, and every O-N-E-,  in that dream is reflecting some part of you. Don’t toss it aside, for some part of you is struggling with what your dreams are revealing. And dreams do not come with printed Instructions. 

Get your self a good dream book, (not from the supermart), and begin to pay attention to how you are trying to bring harmony into your life. It’s sorta fun, and sometimes, as what happened to me, can be very good for your health. It’s one great big eye opener as to how smart we really are. And that we really are our own best friend.

“The Dream Book”, by Betty Bethards, published first in 1983 and still going strong, is used as a textbook, and highly recommended. I paid about $13.00 for one in the 1980’s, and liked it so much that I gave copies for birthday gifts that year.  So try Amazon and get one for less than $5.00. It’s good stuff and you’ll keep it handy by your bedside from now on.

——

This is a repeat blog. Vacation time comes and I jump at it.

——

The Invisible Scar

“Bombardment, barrage, curtain-fire, mines, gas, tanks, machine-guns, hand-grenades – words, words, but they hold the horror of the world.”
Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front

 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (hereinafter PTSD) is thought, by many people, to be an outcome of around the last 15 or so years of global warfare. But tales from my family’s history, going back to World War One, reveal it to be an old, old sickness that had not yet been recognized. And anyway, they thought it affected only a scattering of the returning veterans.

However, book after book, following our Civil War also tell the sad tales of men coming home after the War, as changed, and never again the same husband, son, or brother as the one who had left them to fight for either the Confederacy or the Union. Which ‘side’ didn’t matter, war is war and the returning men were ‘Never again the same men who had left’. Call it whatever they might have, we now know it was also PTSD.

Parley Goodall, my mother’s younger  brother, ‘came back’ from France of WW 1, and retreated to his farm fields in the then isolated small town of Santaquiin, Utah, and never again left their peace and quiet. Not even, I understand to go as far as Provo, or certainly not to Salt Lake City. And now I realize he was a lucky man, in that he owned fields that he could retreat to and be able to support his family in that manner.

But Parley left us words that, a century later, remain part of the family lore and vibrate with his emotions. His words were: “If there’s another War and they ask me to serve again, there will be two men who will never go. Me and the man who tries to make me.”

My Uncle served in the French Trenches, which faced a similar line of German Trenches.  Neither progressing, but neither giving up. A yard ot two won today, with a yard or two lost the next, but either way, thousands of lives were lost in that back-and-forth futile maneuvering.

After WW 1, both France and Germany built over 3,000 concrete Bunkers which faced each other and became known as the Maginot and Siegfried Lines. And no matter how well built to protect, and to even keep the men’s feet dry, those Lines were found to be utterly useless when Hitler began WW 2 and thousands of airplanes flew over those expensive, supposedly uncrossable lines,  as if they were not even there.

But getting back to PTSD, those early vets never recovered from what finally became known in WW1, as Shellshock, and also from Trench Foot, caused by living weeks upon weeks with wet feet. It was said, there were no dry feet in the Trenches, giving those men a condition that would be theirs for the rest of their days.

One man I know served in that most horrible final WW2 Battle of the Bulge and has lived a very full and productive life, in all ways, of home, family, church and business, but is only now able to allow small phrases and words of that time, to be spoken or appear in his writing.

The veterans of Vietnam and the Korean wars were for a long time almost ignored or forgotten, for they were the leftovers of LBJ’S most unwise and unpopular decisions, but that did nothing to alleviate the post war sufferings of those men. Aromas of gun powder, sounds of explosives, whether back yard fire crackers, Fourth of July celebrations, or even certain foods that were brought back and made their way to our own tables. A man I once knew  from Magna left his own family dinner table, trembling and crying out in utter terror when such a dish innocently appeared at a family meal.

But today, the men and more and more women, are returning and their suffering is now recognized. Our hospitals are full of them, and Kenneth, a most likeable, busy, man I’ve known since his childhood, is battling his way back from Afghanistan, to a normal life in Arizona, with as much help as the overcrowded hospitals are able to offer.

If I, in my really sheltered life, can know of at least one veteran from the last century of wars and suffering, I flinch at how many others there must be. Let’s be kind, loving and understanding of anyone who has served and then blessed enough to return home. Whether it shows or not, each suffers from what has become known as The Invisible Scar.

They received those scars as they fought for me, you, and those who have never even heard of those old fights. So, for all who will carry that The Invisible Scar, plus the additional thousands whose  scars  are very visible with lost arms, legs, and upon their bodies, May God Bless Every Single One Of Them.

Education Funding In Utah

The rest of the story . . .

We all flinched at the headline on the lower left corner of the front Page of a recent Salt Lake Tribune issue which read: Utah Last Again in Per-Student Spending, telling the world, or at least implying, how little we really care about our children’s education..

But although we cringe to see such words, we also know  that they’re not exaggerated. They are proclaiming the facts, for Utah is and always has been among the lowest, of all 48 and then 50 States. in how much we pay yearly, for each of our children’s education..

The point, however, is that we most certainly care deeply about our children and the above headline , is only the tail end of the story, for all that headline told is the Result, while the Cause of why we have such low funding, per student, is seldom, if ever, mentioned.  

There’s so much  more behind the words in that headline, and it takes a brave (gutsy?) (stupid?) soul to dare tell of the whole thing. And so, Ethel being Ethel, I speak out.

We all know the reason for the problem, seldom spoken about, for the answer comes in how many students that money must be divided amongst. And here is where the half-told and twisted news stories come about.

In any manner of reckoning, Utah is not a Poverty State, and yet those headlines make it seem as if we are poverty stricken, or worse still, and more untrue, is the implication that we care little about our children’s education.

The truth, of course, is that we are far from being a Poverty State, and we care deeply about our kids, and the solution is both simple and obvious. You can take $100.00 and divide it among ten students and each one gets Ten Dollars. Divide that same $100.00 among twenty students and each gets $5.00. But divide it among 50 students and each poor kid gets only $2.00 each.

We happen to be among the States with the most crowded classrooms, and so our tax dollars must be divided among the greatest number of students. Ergo, we’re among the highest in percentage of money received for education, but among the lowest in how much can be allotted to each child.

A few years ago a national weekly, (Newsweek?) pointed out the above truths, in a two-page spread,  by naming every one of our 50 States, and showing the rate taxation for schools; and again, State by State, the number of students that money must be divided amongst.

It shocked me with its matter-of-fact telling of the situation for ALL States, and I vividly remember how clearly it showed, for uninformed ones, such as Ethel, why the rate of taxation for education ranked Utah among the highest, yet how we ended up among the lowest in what each student was ‘given’.

I am, I suppose, a slow learner, but I doubt if much has changed since I saw that graph which outlined the ‘why’ of where every State ended up, and Utah was not the only State to shiver over where ‘they’ each ended up.  But for us, it showed that Utah is high in rate of taxes, but low only when that money gets down to each child.

And now when I read of how little Utahns spend per student, I no longer flinch, but become angry. The news ‘stories’ are giving people only half the story, and should either spell out all the details of the difference, or leave the story alone. We’re often given the ‘Result‘. but the ‘Why’ is slurred over, or seldom or ever mentioned.

This dichotomy, I’m sure, is one of the biggest causes of the escalating number of requests for Home Teaching and Private Schools. They can’t get away from being taxed, but they can control the kind of education their kids get. 

And that’s not bad. We should look at the whole story,  and then, perhaps begin helping the Private Schools, too.

 

Indian Stories

Whose moon is it, anyway?

I tell you an old story this week. But, no,it’s really two stories, and while the first one is well documented and included in odd happenings in our Nation’s History.  The second part I can find no official words telling of it, but just the same, I’ve read about it from places where others have thought it true.

It’s a good one, came from a good source, and rings true for its time and space. So, here’s the first story. The one nobody questions, and tell of it with pride.

During World War 11, the Allies, England, France, United States, Canada et al looked long and hard for some language or code to use for their private and terribly important plans for the War. A Code that wouldn’t be routinely broken by Hitler’s people, within a few weeks. It took time, but finally they found one, and it was purely American and was our own Navajo Indian language coming from centuries back, that did the trick. Notes, in that language, went back and forth during the entire war, and far longer when needed or wanted.

It was never once broken, but now, since the ‘sacred secret’ is well known, they no doubt have other methods, but who knows and who would tell, anyway?

But now for the second story. It was a couple of decades later, when, in the 1960’s, we were making our first steps in exploring Outer Space, and there were many who wished to send a message to be left on the Moon, or whatever Planet we might land upon.

And when a Navajo employee, asked if he could add a message along with other messages being allowed, and was told “Of Course” but also told that all of the messages had to to be checked and okay-ed by those in charge, before finally accepted.

So he wrote his note, but in Navajo, and after going from desk to desk with no one able to decipher it, was routinely sent, with all others, to Code Headquarters in Washington DC, to see what it said, and if allowable. Or if it was something that just might need deeper investigation.

The letter, in Navajo, of course finally reached the desk of a Navajo who just happened to be one of those who had worked The Code during the War years, and recognizing his own language , he read it and then laughed.

When asked what was so funny, he told them that the message was to whoever in Space it might end up with, and that they were advised to treat the visitors very well, for they were likeable people, but to be careful, for, in the long run, they could not be trusted.

He told that they (You and I. All of us.) would make promises upon promises, but their Goal, and their (our) ONLY ultimate goal, was to gain control over the land and all of value upon, under or over that land and when they finally accomplished that, they would kick the original people out to wherever they could go, but just to get out.

Everyone laughed, but every one did so with guilt, for, again, everyone well knows  what happened to the Indians when ‘their’ land was being ‘explored’. And we also know  how many empty promises we made, but which, as soon as something valuable, such as oil, farm land, timber, railroad rights, became suddenly of great value, the Indians, were pushed back and back and finally forced into reservations to live solely upon what ever we doled out to them. And, of course, a thousand excuses for our broken promises.

The Navajo man who wrote the letter, was speaking from his people’s long experience with us. He wrote from our true history, and his one wish was to warn others of such amiable, friendly people.

I don’t know if the last story is true, but it is supposedly well documented and was well passed around during the early days of our Space Exploration. And if not true, it should be.

I hope the ‘right’ people read and are keeping it in mind, for our reputation concerning our early explorations has not always been as pure and honest as we, today, might like it all to have been.

Good stories, both of them, and to me, the very truth and oddness of the second one, makes both of them worth keeping. And heeding.