I have dreams that the world is ending. When I was a child, there was so much "end of the world" talk in my religion, that nightmares plagued my sleep. As an only girl, I had the "privilege" of having my own room most of the time. I never liked it. Another person gave me a buffer between reality and my nighttime imaginations. My imagination has always gotten the better of me. Then my nightmares had fire and even swords raining from the sky. I began writing stories in the third grade and have only stopped when busy schedules dictated otherwise. A story I wrote that captured my 7th grade class's attention was of piling bodies up to protect people from the danger of whatever was killing us. (I can't remember, but just remember the teacher was a bit horrified, but the kids loved it.) Such are the stuff of dreams.
Now my nightmares have creeped into my nights again and have intruded into my otherwise idyllic days. The realities of today are scarier than my imagination ever created. It's the Twilight Zone. It's not fire from the sky. It's not swords raining. It's not bodies piled around my life. What is raining from the sky and keeping me awake at night is the normalization of cruelty. It's turning callousness toward the suffering and the poor, into patriotism. It's blaming victims of poverty and abuse, instead of the bullies in power that keep them there. It's blaming women who are targeted by sexual predators. It's using celebrity and power to do whatever one wants at the expense of those without it. It's not doing enough to change the climate that rewards rapists and lewdness above decency. It's withholding healthcare, education, and basic need from our most vulnerable populations. It's taking us steps backward from racial equality. It's denying the reasons that our LGBTQ populations are at high risk of suicidal ideation. It's selling off our public lands to the highest bidder. It's a short-sighted evil that is reaching down to the core of our society. The truth is that our days are darker than I ever imagined possible in the "land of the free, and the home of the brave."
I hope that more of us wake up. I hope that more of us become Senator Flake's and call out the crap that is going on in Washington and in our own state governments.
Sunday, March 5, 2017
Recently I was dismayed to hear that a former LDS General Relief Society President, Elaine criticized the women's march that happened through the nation and the world in January after the inauguration. While speaking to a group of LDS women, she praised them for being leaders in "contrast to those women who marched." She assumed that LDS women didn't march. "We were in a cab, and as I watched those women marching and yelling," Dalton went on to say, according to a report in the LDS Church-owned Deseret News, " ... behaving anything but ladylike and using language that was very unbefitting of daughters of God, my heart just sunk and I thought to myself, 'What would happen if all those women were marching and calling to the world for a return to virtue?' "
I grew up in the church. I loved serving young women and standing to repeat a motto that includes the words, "I will stand for truth and righteousness..." Ironically as I participated in the march locally in Ogden, Utah--those words kept coming back to me. I will stand for truth. I will stand and more, even march for righteousness. Those words that I must have repeated aloud hundreds of times and in my mind hundreds more times. To me, standing for something means to defend it. How we choose to defend something we believe in can take many approaches. My approach has been "boots on the ground." Even though for an introvert this is way out of my comfort zone, it feels right to me. I've defended the rights of my LGBTQ friends in Pride marches. And I will continue to defend women in any way that I can. I'm sure Sister Elaine Dalton spoke from a place of misunderstanding rather than purposefully disparaging a diverse group of women, which included in every march around the world, LDS women.
Dear Sister Dalton,
Thank you for your countless hours of service on behalf of women (this is sincere--you've certainly given and continue to give your all for our church and for women.) My heart sunk recently when I heard what you said about those of us who chose to participate in solidarity for women and march with over a million others worldwide. You might be surprised to hear that one of the reasons I chose to march was to "call the world for a return to virtue." Virtue by definition means goodness, integrity, decency, honor, ethics, morality etc. I believe that if you had taken the time to get out of your cab and talked to some of the vulnerable and brave women marching you may have found out that their varied reasons were something that you would have supported and believed in. It doesn't take more than a casual observation of the news in the last year leading up to the election to see that decency has been eroded by arrogance and misogyny. Our current president is anything but virtuous in his treatment of women, regularly calling women who dare challenge him the b word and even sometimes the c word. He called Hillary nasty. He said a woman reporter would look pretty "on her knees." I can't even write those words as they are so offensive to me and others. The man bragged about assaulting women and grabbing them by the "pussy." Numerous women have confirmed his own admission. Many women who participated in pageants including our own Miss Utah said he would walk in the dressing room and kiss woman without asking. Need I go on? We were marching to denounce this kind of lewd and unvirtuous treatment and assumed ownership of women. As our own Sister Laurel Thatcher Ulrich a Pulitzer prize winner for history said, "Well-behaved women seldom make history."
The march may have sounded like a group of loud misbehaved women, but we were standing for truth, equality, and a return to decency and kindness. And yes virtue. Next time Sister Dalton, I would welcome you to join us. I have a friend who will even crochet you a darling hat.
Monday, January 23, 2017
A hand gesture conveys so much. On Saturday, I reluctantly joined hundreds of others who gathered at the Union Station in Ogden. Reluctant because it was cold, snowy, and I’m an introvert. I much prefer to spend a stormy Saturday home with a cup of hot cocoa and reading a book by the fire. Besides sometimes gatherings of people no matter how well-intentioned can get out-of-hand. Unlike Pride in SLC which I’ve participated in several times, we didn’t have police escorts or security of any kind. But this is Utah, and we’re a tame bunch…right?
The group of marchers started the half mile walk and I got in line. Our first hurdle came within minutes or even less. The intersection WALK sign only allowed a handful to cross the street, so a man who I believe was a veteran stepped out into traffic and began to direct, rather professionally to get more of us across the road. A truck who could have mowed down dozens of people and didn’t seem to care if he did, began to rev his engine and pushed his way through the crowd, forcing marchers to jump away. Their were children with us and some older folks too. A couple others followed the driver’s example and did the same—honking all the while. It’s interesting that we could usually tell the cheerful honks, the we’re here with you sisters, to the get the hell out of my way honkers. Inevitably the supportive honkers would open windows and cheer. The cheering buoyed me an I'm sure others. The hand waves, made me smile. Some of the business owners on Ogden’s Historic 25th street came to their windows as we passed and waved—most seemed sympathetic to the cause—and if they weren’t--we didn’t know because they were respectful.
What a difference between the cheerleader passersby, the peaceful happy marchers and those with trucks rev-ing, horns blaring, middle fingers saluting, and obscenities flying. I’m really a very timid person. I hate confrontation and go way out of my way to avoid it. Some of you, won’t believe that because sometimes I find myself right in the middle of it. I’ve been accused or complimented depending on the person’s point of view many times over the years of being “brutally honest” or of “speaking my convictions.” My answer to that is that you have no idea how many things I keep to myself, of how many times I scroll past a Facebook post, or overhear something that makes me cringe, or just like on Saturday, how often I feel that punch to the gut that comes when someone looks right at me/us and flips us off and tells us to go to hell. On Saturday when it happened, I felt a visceral reaction, that I squelched. Then smiled. I actually felt sorry for the guys who have so little respect for a group of peaceful, mostly women, marchers carrying anti-misogyny, pro-equality, anti-Trump signs that they feel that they need to lash out. I understand that because I often have to look the other way when I feel my values are confronted. I guess they didn’t have enough self-control to look the other way. And yes, Mr. Middle Finger, I am you. I’ve childishly flipped someone, more than one someone off when I haven’t been in control of myself. And guess what, it did not make me feel better. It made me feel stupid. So I’m not too angry with you. I’m just glad your finger wasn’t on a trigger—because sometimes hate out of control, in the moment leads to disaster. I’m so grateful that all over the women’s marches were peaceful (not to be confused with the rioters who had nothing to do with us.)
So why did I march? Because my daughter was marching in DC and though I’ve always been so proud of her, I was especially proud on Saturday. I wanted to be there myself with her, but let my fear cower me into staying home. Because we raised our children to care very much about equality, even though they’ve lived a rather privileged life. Because we taught our children to stand up for right and truth. We taught them to care about the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised. Because I didn’t want to look back on one of the most historic marches in my life-time and say that I chose to stay home and read a book about feminism instead of participating in feminism. Because stepping out of our comfort zone to confront principles we believe in head-on isn’t easy.
But the main reason I chose to march was because a friend asked me if I would do it with her. See we all need friends who say, I’ll do it if you will. Without that friend, I would have stayed home and read that book and I wouldn’t be writing this, instead I would be envying those millions of people world-wide who said, we are in this together. We will not let fear reign.
For me, the grief I have felt ever since this election season began makes me want to hole up, stay home, read, watch TV, hibernate and eat Cheetos. But I know me. And what helps me get out of my own pessimistic thinking is to engage in the process, meet like-minded individuals and just do something. Marching alongside the energetic people practicing their right to come together and protest a president that has maligned every single marginalized group and then some has offered me a bit of peace, and whole lot of hope. Love to all of you millions of marchers around the world. “Love can change the world. It’s the only thing that ever has.”