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Posts Tagged ‘Black Lives Matter’

ET struck again.

This morning, we woke up to find our Clinton-Kaine sign vandalized. We would love to have been surprised, but somehow we have come to expect that one neighbor has a vendetta of his making and perhaps another house a few doors down is fueling what one of my friends refers to as ‘deplorable’ behavior.

The cycle of vandalism began in mid-September when my sons and I put up a Black Lives Matter sign.  We were and still am proud of the movement.  Like all movements, it isn’t perfect, but it does do some incredibly holy work by trying to end the marginalization of black people (as well as others).

Unfortunately, our views and/or our BLM sign has incited a neighbor who we refer to as ET. Here is the outline of what has been happening since we decided to put up our sign from September – present:

  • Mid-September – First Black Lives Matter Sign goes up.day-1-blm-sign-goes-up-yay
  • Thursday, September 22 – ET (who we now know as a neighbor) confronted me very rudely outside my garage. He was waiting there at 7:15 AM when I left the house to go to work. At that time, I kept my cool and told him that we would be happy to remove the sign if he showed me the HOA rules. He didn’t. We believe based on interactions that he perpetuated what happened below.  (Btw, Aryeh has been with me during nearly each and every interaction.)
  • Saturday, September 24 – Black Lives Matter Sign pulled out of ground and left on lawn.
  • Sunday, September 25 Black Lives Matter Sign was vandalized to say Black Lies Matter. We then repainted the ‘v’ to return the sign to the original form.
  • Monday, September 26 – Black Lives Matter Sign was stolen
  • Thursday, September 29 – We created and put up a sign that said “God Sees Souls Not Skin” (Thanks for this sign idea Lea!)god-sees-souls-september-30
  • Friday, September 30 – Lakeside Estates Townhouse Community’s HOA gave us 30 days to remove our signs unless they are for a candidate.
  • Friday, October 7 – second BLM sign goes up
  • Saturday, October 8
    • Early AM – Found poop rubbed on sign and toilet paper in yard,
    • Yelled at by ET and others in the alley behind our house. When confronted ET admitted that of course he did it because he didn’t want “that shit” in the neighborhood. (ET seems to hang out a lot with the folks who live a few doors down from our house. There was a group of men hanging out in the garage joining in the rudeness. I did not pay attention to them because ET was in my face and/or louder; he was also outside the garage at the time.)
    • Police called – First time
    • And I decided that I would no longer confront ET on any level.
    • In the afternoon, we found chewing tobacco spit on garage door
    • Police called and came a second time.
    • We then put up a camera
  • Monday, October 17-
    • Second Black Lives Matter sign stolen while my son was walking our dog in the evening.
    • Later that evening, we put up our third and last BLM sign with a message to ET saying, “Grow Up, Have you noticed that we haven’t stolen your Trump Sign” on the back.writing-my-note-to-et
  • Tuesday, October 25 – Black Lives Matter sign taken down to comply with HOA deadline to remove our BLM sign; the sign was replaced with Hillary Clinton for President Sign.
  • Saturday, November 5- Pumpkin thrown at sign and all over yard.

While all of this has been troubling, I have found myself doing some serious soul searching, rethinking how I walk in the world.  How should I respond to external conflict.  Let’s face it, when you consciously interact with the world around you, you notice and experience life intensely.  So now I am trying to take more time to quiet my mind before I speak, breath a little more deeply and into my emotions, and allow for the quiet.

Initially, I was angry and fit to be tied, later I became a little scared. Anyone that has the ability to toss shit at my sign must be capable of doing so much worse. And then lastly, my conviction became fierce. I was not going to let my views or my values be silenced. But that didn’t mean I had to respond with the venom espoused by ET.

At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 25, 2016, Michelle Obama said the words that I believe may have quite literally changed how I relate to the world as both an activist and more importantly a human being. She said, “When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, you go high.

Within moments of allowing myself to get swept up by anger after ET admitted to throwing feces at our second sign, I took a deep breath and allowed Michelle Obama’s words to sink deep into my soul. “when they go low, you go high.”

Onward!
Chava

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“The words are purposes.
The words are maps.”
~ Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck

Congested

In so many ways the world is so very dark and yet perhaps we need to look through different eyes. It is time to open our eyes a little wider and listen more deeply.

Yes – Bureaucratic hatred is rampant under the guise of conservative realism. Yes – Human rights are being thwarted by those that lack the ability to consider life outside their own castles. Yes – Climate Change is a farce (NOT!) and the nearly 97 percent climate scientists are wrong.

The prevailing opinions of many of today’s conservatives are hard to stomach. Some believe it is time to cleanse the United States by rounding up that say Allahu Akbar or connect to the core religious tenets of Islam. And if you a black person, you better consider keeping your hands up and make no sudden moves when you encounter many of the police officers who are protecting our cities. (I know not all officers act this way.) And it didn’t seem fair that I had to prepare my Native American son to look people in the eyes and speak clearly or else he may be seen as an immigrant and treated poorly.  (Note: Of course I want my son to speak clearly, but I wish it wasn’t fear or anticipation that made me drive him nuts with my corrections.)

While I could get stuck in this deplorable place, I am choosing to look at the world through a different lens.

Instead of focusing on the darkness, I am celebrating those that inspire me to reach outside myself and take care of the world – all of the world. I am doing exactly as Mr. Rogers said by “looking for the helpers”. There are so many people working towards impacting the world for good and honoring human rights at every turn.

Blessings are flowing in every crevice of our society.  There are so many people doing what they can for tikkun olam, repairing the world.  There are those that are:

  • working with the homeless population.
  • educating people to see refugees as people that have the right to thrive without daily doses of terror.
  • creating opportunities to help every facet of the human race.
  • engaging in a Two State solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • rejuvenate our environment to lesson the impact of climate change.
  • healing the sick and doing their best to wipe out AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.
  • standing up with and for Black Lives Matter.
  • speaking out for the immigrants and doing all they can to support their presence in the United States.
  • trying to stop the NRA from controlling as they do and hopefully one day eliminating the terror that they seem to instigate with their policies.
  • and so much more. . . .

In this moment, I am trying to decide whether to do as much as I can in many different areas that need change or do I simply do the my part in only one aspect of tikkun olam (repairing the world}. Passion literally courses through my veins. Caring about human beings, means that I find shutting down so very challenging to do. While I know that I am not alone, I feel relieved that many are doing their part to improve the world. My job is to figure out where my power lies.  For this moment, I love knowing that I do find ways to make a difference. Even though, I often navigate how to best use my voice, I love knowing that I do not walk in silence. I use my voice, my actions, and my teachings to make a difference for good.

I do my best to do what I can. How about you?????  There is a huge world out there that needs our voices, our actions.

May I never forget that my voice and my actions have power.
May I always use my voice and my actions for good.

May we all remember that we are part of ONE RACE – HUMAN!!!

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“From a certain point onward
there
is no longer any turning back.
That is the point that must be reached.”
Franz Kafka

This has been the year of trials and tribulations.  In so many ways 5775 has been a nightmare and in many more ways it has been the year that I will always remember for the many and very real blessings.

Sunrise ove the Boise River which flows through Treasure Valley Courtesy of Dianne Hoff

Sunrise ove the Boise River which flows through Treasure Valley
Courtesy of Dianne Hoff

Sunrise always came, despite the floods that seemed to leave me profoundly dark and sometimes fearing for how I would navigate life.

This was the year that I said to good-bye to so many chapters of my life. My marriage formally ended, I nearly lost my profession, and hope was nothing more than a dream. Loneliness became my friend, becoming destitute was nearly a reality, and I was forced to say good-bye to some of the most beloved souls within my life.

5775 was a nightmare, it was a dark tunnel.  AND within the dark tunnel, I found some of the most amazing sparks of light.

Financial Challenges

My position as a Jewish educator ended abruptly, leaving me void of income and the finances to move forward. Yet doors opened up and my family never starved.

Whenever I feared that I would be destitute, jobs came out of nowhere.  Jobs emerged because my friends found positions for me. When my career went half-time and then ended, care-giving allowed me to care for people that were sometimes at the end of their lives, but always challenged by life circumstances. Physical pain was part of their every move; emotional challenges were inevitable. My kindness, my gentleness, and my strength allowed some beautiful souls to live with as much dignity as possible; I made a difference.

And when care-giving couldn’t sustain me any longer, so many friends afforded me the possibility to survive and ultimately thrive. While I feared survival, I never really had to a reason to worry. Everything I needed to survive was available to my family. A friend gave me a home to live in for six months, beloved friends and family gave us what we needed to move and survive until I could start working, at every turn positions allowed our family to have exactly what we needed.  And just as I was getting ready to sustain myself on hourly wages, and another friend nudged me to apply for the position that lead me to be exactly where I am supposed to be at this time. As tears run down my face, I can’t believe how fortunate I am to be in Houston with an amazing community including co-workers that fill my life with joy.

I love forever. 

And this year couldn’t protect me from the pain of loss. I did have to say good-bye or let go of what could no longer be part of my life.

After years of separation, my marriage formally ended. For now, I can share that when I married nearly 26 years ago, I didn’t believe that my marriage could end in any way other than death. It did end and while I have had years to get used to what that ending meant, it is still profoundly sad.

When I was forced to say good-bye to our beloved Shachar, my sweet puppy. I was comforted by the belief that my family gave her enormous love in the year that we had her. Her abused spirit ended too early, but for one year she was treated with the love that was part of our every interaction, even the ending of her life. And as I was struggling for our family’s loss and some very physical pain, Jennifer and David showed up. They didn’t hesitate to come to Aryeh and I who were buckets of tears and pain. They just held us metaphorically and helped us move forward.

Finally, I had to let go of my best friend, a person who I thought would be in my life forever. For reasons that are somewhat beyond my grasp. . .there are no tomorrows. Sometimes all you can say is good-bye. I only wish I had the grace to say good-bye without sharing the deep loss that was a part of me; my heart quite literally shattered as my entire being yearned to understand.  This was the year I was forced to simply let go; I was given no choice.

With each and every step, I was never alone; I was surrounded by love. My friends always showed up in some very profound ways.

This has also been the year when I faced my inability to be present for those I love. I can send love letters, I can pray and send healing energy.  But I have so many friends who are facing very real physical pain.  Their pain is deep and all I want to do is wrap my arms around them and I can’t and I may never again.  The reality that sometimes there are no tomorrows cuts like a knife. While my life has been full in all the right ways, today I don’t have the means to be more present.  And there are people that I love as deeply as I love my family, they are my family of choice. Realizing that I can not be there breaks my heart.

As I get older, I have learned that life ends, accidents happen, physical pain hurts. . .with and without warning.  When my dear friend Helen died a few years ago, I was crushed that I couldn’t be there for her family, but I couldn’t.  At the same time, I have learned the most valuable lesson possible. I have learned to love completely and to treasure what is.  Even when you lose a beloved friend or lover, what you had lives on.  That love is what made you what you are.

The World
And the world, can we talk about Israel, Black Lives Matter, Our Nation, Refugees, Climate Change. . . .the list goes on and on; my mind never shuts off.  The world is struggling and I am struggling with her. Beauty comes as I stand with so many other individuals that care. I am not alone. Regardless of what language we give to each of the issues, I am surrounded by passionate people who care and want to make a difference for good.

While I can never do enough; I am doing what I can and that has to be enough for this moment.

Finally
Moving forward means acknowledging the pain, but willingly deciding that life is worthy of swimming upstream.  Thriving is not optional. The world is precious and full of so many beautiful souls. While tomorrow is not a given, this moment is here. So to quote my ‘virtual’ friend Jeff Keni Pulver, “Live, Life, Now!”

Every morning the sun rises. Life may sometimes have painful moments, but I know that I am always surrounded by light.

5776 – Hineini, Here I am!

Onward with love,
Chava

PS – To each and every one of my friends that have been there for me – thank you! I wouldn’t be where I am without you.

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