Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Triumph of Evil?

The recent actions in Charlottesville and the subsequent comments by our President have created so much backlash that it is difficult to say anything more without it being repetitive. One thing in particular I didn't hear - of course, I may have missed it - is that if the rally had not been so highly publicized in advance, there would not have been anyone there to protest against the hateful groups. Of course, the KKK, the neo-Nazis, and the White Supremacists wanted the publicity. That way, their numbers might increase each time they congregate. With their current seeming acceptance, if not encouragement, by the President they continue to get bolder and more military-like in their appearances. I also think the huge media coverage of their events encourages them as well. 

I was reminded of an incident in Denton, Texas in the summer of 1993 or 1994. My best friend Carol and I met at my Barn, along with her gentleman friend at the time. We had heard there was to be a Ku Klux Klan rally in the Civic Center Park (later named Quakertown Park) that afternoon. We made our "peace" and "love" signs, stapled them to wooden posts, and set off to show the Klan that love could overcome their hate-filled rhetoric. I ran across an article presented for a Master of Science Thesis by a University of North Texas student, Gary Ray Webb in August 1994. In part, he wrote about the Klan rally:
"Female keynoting significantly differed (from the males). As the rally began, a group of 4 protestors, 3 of them female, arrived with signs in hand. Two of the females, dressed in clothing reminiscent of the 1960's, stood near the center of the crowd, singing peace songs. At one point during the rally, 6 of the 8 people bearing anti-KKK signs were female." 
Quakertown Park by Glenn McLain
It was a large crowd, considering one they held earlier in Grapevine was cut short due to lack of interest. There were enough angry, aggressive anti-Klan people attending that if it were held today, there would probably have been some sort of violence. The speakers were often completely drowned out by not only shouts from some in the audience, but my friends and I got others to join in singing loudly with us, "Let There Be Peace On Earth" and "Love is the Only Power". I don't think all of the speakers had their chance to be heard before they gathered themselves together, looked at us with disgust, and with their police escort exited the area. Police had the foresight to have them park very close to the rally space, so they didn't have to walk the gauntlet except for a short distance. The only violent acts we witnessed were one young black man hit one of the Klan members in the face before he was stopped by police, and another one spit a huge amount of something red on a Klansman's white shirt. We continued singing as they drove off. 

Some churches in the area chose to hold a type of peaceful prayer service rather than attend the rally. Their thinking was that it was better to ignore them. I fear that that way of dealing with the Klan and other hate groups has been instrumental in the growth of such groups in recent years.  A good article regarding "Silence=Complicity" was written by Kevin Curry, a blogger at The Admitted Liberal . I urge you to hear his voice on the subject. I'm not advocating violent resistance at all, but there must be a way to show their rallies are not welcome other than resorting to violence. I like to think that a loving presence such as the one shown by many of us, kept the aggressiveness at bay.
(ABC News)
The Klan members who spoke that day had done their best to appear like ordinary, upstanding citizens. The men were dressed in business suits, and the women in dresses. They were not accompanied by anyone carrying signs or flags.. or dressed in any kind of uniform. There were young, clean-cut men handing out brochures of some kind to those who would take them. Looking back, this seems scarier than the marchers we saw at Charlottesville.. armed and carrying Nazi and Confederate flags. At least one was able to tell who the "bad guys" were.

There was an element of religious leaders present in Charlottesville holding the peace -- and probably praying during the rally. And last night, thousands of people gathered to hold a peaceful candlelight vigil, marching along the same route as the white nationalists, carrying torches, had used days before. They were "showing up" against racism, bigotry, and hatred. Sooner or later, this kind of resistance will surely make a big difference. And we will triumph over evil.
("Blessed are the peacemakers.." Matthew 5:9 KJV)

Let peace begin with me... and you... and you... and you!

Thursday, August 3, 2017


The older my grandchildren get, the harder it is to keep up with all of their activities. I'm always curious about the ones in high school or college. They can change their minds frequently about their plans for the future, and this grandmother likes to be "in the know". 

Ashlyn is the middle child of my daughter Carajean and her husband Branch. She has been something of a social butterfly most of her young life. I could always count on a good story from her mother about her antics. I also resort to questioning Carajean about Ashlyn's college life and courses. This time I enlisted her help in getting Ashlyn to slow down long enough to let me know about her busy, busy life. She will be a Senior at Oklahoma State University this fall, and has been working most of this summer. I was thrilled when I got the following. The first part is a speech she gave at her best friend's wedding. I would have loved to hear this in person.

Maid of Honor Speech
"First off, I’d like to say how happy I am to be here to celebrate this beautiful couple. For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Ashlyn, and 16 years ago I met a really loud, crazy little girl whom I didn’t know at the time, would be my lifelong best friend. 

The first time Channing ever came over to my house, my mom had made us dinner. She asked Channing what she would like to drink and Channing, being the impressionable little 5-year-old that she was, responded in her raspy voice, “I’ll have whisky on the rocks”. Obviously, she had no idea what whisky on the rocks was, and of course my mom gave her orange juice. This is just one of many examples of how she has brought my family and myself endless laughter and joy over the years. 

Channing and I have been through many phases of life together. From my parents saying we weren’t allowed to be friends anymore (for reasons some of you may know and some of you should be glad you don’t), to being the most loving and supportive friend I could ever ask for during all kinds of change, loss, and heartbreak. I am extremely lucky to know Channing. Ever since we were kids she has always shown so much compassion for people, whether she realized it or not. It has always been in Channing’s nature to care for people, but just in this past year, the amount of change I have seen in her is incredible. 

Ashlyn, Nimbus, Channing
There was a time when I felt like I was out of touch with myself, and I felt like I was drowning in a sea of self-doubt. Channing looked me right in the eye and told me 'Ash, I know who you are. Don’t think for a second that you are alone, because I am here. It’s okay to not be okay, but just know that this is not forever.' This was a defining moment in our friendship, and in my life. Those words were so comforting, and impactful.

They say that you are friends with people that you want to be like, and I can 100 percent agree with that statement because not only is she the life of the party and can light up any room she enters, but because she is the most intentional person I know. I believe there is something we can learn from everyone, but I think there are so many things we can learn from Channing. She knows herself, and inspires people to get to know themselves. She unknowingly shows God’s love by example every single day, and I can honestly say she started a change in me ever since that day she spoke.

I remember when she met Josiah, Channing told me, 'Ash, he might be the one', and I have to admit, I thought 'oh that’s just Channing being Channing... she will be over him in a couple of months' (sorry Josiah). In my defense, Channing has always been intense... she feels intensely, she loves intensely, and I had to learn to take what she said with a grain of salt at times. Boy, was I wrong. Ever since she let herself love and be loved by Josiah, I have never seen her any happier. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but the girl glows… As if she could be any more beautiful. Their love is so real, and so contagious. Seeing them together has given me the courage to refrain from settling… both in love and in life. 

I’ve had little time with Josiah, but it didn’t take long for me to know that he loves Channing. People say that it is important to marry someone that brings out the best in you. I believe it is evident that they bring out the best in each other, and I have complete faith that God molded Channing and Josiah for each other. I couldn’t have picked anyone better for us to spend the rest of our lives with. And I say 'ours', because we are a package deal. They don’t know this, but I’ve been looking forward to our trip to Cancun for weeks now. I wish I was being serious... unfortunately, I have to let her go, but I know she is in good hands. 

Congratulations Channing, and Josiah. I wish an endless amount of happiness, patience, and love for the both of you."

Ashlyn continues:
"This summer has been one of my favorite summers that I have had in a long time. I spent 4-weeks shadowing various PAs (Physician's Assistants) and nurse practitioners in different departments throughout the BSA Hospital system. I am also taking two online classes one of which is forensic psychology, and the other is one that monitors my shadowing hours. I really enjoyed shadowing, and have made the decision to officially pursue a career as a PA. I really enjoyed working in the ER. I think I need something fast paced, and more hands on than clinical work. A couple of months ago I was really upset because I didn't know if I wanted to be a PA, and had the urge to get my Masters in Psychology. I wanted to be a therapist. I thought my personality was better suited as a therapist, because all of my friends tend to come to me if they need someone to listen, but I quickly realized that I don't think my heart can handle being a therapist.

Kappa Alpha Theta
I leave next Friday for Stillwater. (She attends OSU). I have rush for my sorority a week before school starts. I am going to be in 16-hours next semester, so it definitely will not be easy. I'm in Nutrition Pathophysiology of Chronic Disease and Human Metabolism I, which will be my toughest classes.

I am planning on graduating in May 2018, and moving back to Amarillo to work for a nurse practitioner I met here in Amarillo. I want to be a CNA, which is a Certified Nursing Assistant. I am doing this instead of jumping into PA school, because they require hands on experience, which I thought was stupid at first, but I am actually beginning to appreciate. I want to love what I do, and don't want to jump into anything too fast. 

These are just future plans, but I've realized that there are just some things in life I can't control, so who knows what will happen. I'm just going to try the best that I can, and go from there. I'm really nervous/excited for the challenges I'm about to face. My life is about to change a lot in this next year, but I'm going to try my very best to just embrace the change, and see that so much good can come out of change. I've always known I am very blessed and live a great life, but this summer I have realized that I am so extremely thankful for my family and friends. My parents have provided a life for me that a majority of people don't get, and I am going to do everything I can to make them proud."

Oh, my sweet Ashlyn, you have already made them prouder than you can ever imagine. You make your "Fancy Grandmommy" pretty darn proud as well! I see a wonderful life ahead of you... You can do anything you want to with your many gifts and talents. The speech you wrote is so moving and beautifully written, you might even do some writing in your future.

Love, pride, and gratitude for all the children in my life,