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the path back is the path forward


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they laughed. [k.s. friday]

they laughed.

two people in a facebook thread LAUGHED (with the convenient use of laughing emojis) at a post i wrote responding to someone’s perception that there wasn’t a lot of peace and love going on in my town and to a comment about kenosha and what “BLM and rioters have done to beautiful cities” and that “denying that it exists [wouldn’t] make it go away.” i was sincere and fervently hopeful, while recognizing realities:

“here, with a house full of smoke from the fires, within hearing distance of the militia shots in the street. we could hear the blasts of tear gas, the yelling and chanting. we had a visceral front seat. but we also see many, many, many people coming together to try to address a long-standing (forever) problem of this nation. denying systemic racism exists will not make it go away. it is incredibly sad that conversation has to be aggressive and pointed, rather than generative and mindfully intentional. cities can be rebuilt, but lives are lost forever. i don’t want to live in a city that looks beautiful and is ugly underneath.”

and they laughed. LAUGHED. i had to step away to catch my breath before i could respond. what is becoming of human decency these days?

yes. kenosha painted boarded-up windows and painted over graffiti of negative messaging. yes. because, connectivity and love are the beginning. and reminders of those can only help. each positive message – in a city boarded up and burned and looted – reminds us of the most basic of emotions: LOVE. each positive message reminds us – as we walk about in this raw wound – that we are incomplete, we are flawed and we have much work to do. we need listen to each other, without overtalking. we need speak, without animosity. we need respect, without exception. we need conversation. we need connection. each positive message reminds us that hope exists, even in the tiniest brush of paint on wooden board.

this is a time of division, to be sure. day after day i am confronted with this reality and with peoples’ brazen attempts to undermine relationship with rhetoric and falsehoods, misplaced loyalties and inaccurate assumptions, and, worse yet, words of aggressive animosity and actual hatred. i wonder what the fallout will be. will the silken gossamer threads of connection sustain? will empathy fall by the wayside? will love of humanity – in all its shapes and sizes, genders, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic positions, religious affiliations – all its anythings – prevail?

“we live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender.” (john o’donohue) the question is always, every single day, how will we live? how will we spend that time? who will we be?

realizing the vast array of wise words that would also be appropriate alongside photographs we’ve taken in kenosha, i chose to post these words of dr. martin luther king jr., “darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” and i added this in answer to derisive comments about protestors:

“one of the foremost protestors in this land was dr. martin luther king jr. the thousands of people who walked in peaceful protest here, even drove and marched right by our house, were walking in that spirit. there have been rioters and looters in each city of unrest. they are spurred on by the vitriol and angry words of the current president, who seems to revel in discord and chaos. the fact is, the vast majority of people who are protesting in this nation are protesting in peace. just like in kenosha. this nation needs equality – the only way to get there is to listen to those who speak, listen to those who protest. their words count.”

and then, in a fine example of what conversation has defaulted to, i was called a “cupcake”, a “snowflake” and “infantile”. wow. i beg your pardon.

and they laughed? how dare they.

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

CONNECTED ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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and today we wait. [two artists tuesday]

guarding the sidewalk

and today we wait.

you can feel the energy in the air.  nervous tension.  our city waits for the unwanted arrival of the president, who is apparently coming to kenosha to add photos to his photo op collection of inappropriate pictures taken at inappropriate times in circumstances about which he has no empathy.

we wait, nervously, wondering what the afternoon will bring.

in a city struggling to heal and move forward, this president will churn up any dust that has settled.  his rhetoric will spur on angry voices of hatred and division.  his actions and attitudes will suck the hopefulness out of people who have done so much in these last days after the police shooting of a young african american man, the ensuing protests, the riots and looting and arson wreaked by extremists, the pleas for the embracing of black-lives-matter change, the death of two protesters in the streets by a little boy from out-of-state with a very big gun playing militia, and this very president’s lack of compassion, lack of healing words, lack of condemnation of all that is obviously wrong, lack of truth, lack of moral compass in addressing all of what kenosha has experienced in the last nine days.

we wait, nervously, wondering what evil the inevitable rally will unearth, what the retort will be by the people of kenosha who truly care, what the extremists will do, who may enter this city from outside to do damage or stir up violence, what will happen to the baby steps we have taken.

we walk or hike every day.  lately we have walked a lot in our neighborhood.  we turn the corner down a ways and, tucked in front of the fence, next to the sidewalk, positioned in front of the clover on a broken piece of glassware are these two military figures.  both armed and at-the-ready.  what is this?  what does it mean?  even these kid-toys sitting there, day after day, seem to be a statement, seem unsettling in this climate.  and so we wonder.

and we wait.  the stress is palpable as the town listens for the giant military helicopters to arrive or the motorcycle brigade or the national guard entourage parade.  and we wonder what the evening will bring.  will the peaceful protests be overrun by presidential fuel added to the embers?  will all hell break loose?  will kenosha lose ground, the slightest of forward-moving crawling it has done?

we wait, nervously, and wonder how our city, our state, our country can overcome the ugly division that is forming a wall between factions resistant to change, impenetrable, armored to the hilt.  we wonder how we can be a city, a state, a country of dignity and inclusion, respect, equality, safety, peace.

we believe hate-speech is not the answer.  we believe pushing people down to raise oneself up is not the answer.  we believe people in the streets armed with weapons of destruction is not the answer.  we believe divisiveness, in all its colors and genders and socioeconomic forms, is not the answer.  we believe falsehoods and stoking fire and inciting animosity and violence without impunity is not the answer.  we believe abhorrent agenda-riddled self-indulgence on the part of the leadership of this country is not the answer.

stand up, little plastic soldiers.  look each other in the eye.  look the enemy in the eye.  put your guns away.  start with love.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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“hope.” so do not come. [merely-a-thought monday]

hope

do not come.  president of this aching, grieving, diseased, severed, chaotic country, do not come to kenosha.  for you have missed the glimmer of hope on our horizon.  you have ignored the pain of a family wracked with the police shooting of their son.  you have minimized the impassioned pleas to live in a world where black lives matter.  you have distorted the value of lives lost on the very streets of kenosha, lives taken by a little boy with a big gun.  you have stoked the flames of violence and are inciting division in all the ways your cold soul knows how.

do not come.  we do not need a rally for your ego.  we do not need your smug law and order wagon to come through.  we definitely do not need you to instill further tension and fear in the residents of this small city by touting approval of civilian militia groups or extremist patriots.  do not start fires so that you can take credit for putting them out.  we do not need your arson.

do not come. we have been through enough this past week.  we are trying to pick up the pieces from violence and injustice and unrest so that we might move into the winds of change, so that we might listen and, with all good intention, step forward into a place of unity, of healing.

do not come.  politicizing death and destruction and vengeance and ratcheted ferocity have no place on the streets of a community that wants more than that.  we the people desire a more perfect union and domestic tranquility and it is becoming clear that unity is not your ultimate goal and that domestic turbulence and divisiveness are your weapons of choice.

do not come.  for our city needs level wisdom, calm compassion, fair and candid conversation, truth, not your screaming vitriol, your punting self-agenda, your endorsement of hatred, your lies.

do not come.  for your intentions are not with hope in your heart.

and without you, in the heart of kenosha, there is the glimmer of hope.

do not come.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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we hold our heads. [d.r. thursday]

morsel

our go-bags are packed.  the dog crate is in the car and the cat crate is in the sitting room, ready.  important papers are in a tote bag and the backpack awaits our laptops and all the related power cords.  one more bag sits open for a few clothes and toiletries.

i feel unhinged.

i wrote to my children that it is unbelievable and real at the same time.  this is true.  we have no idea what dusk will bring, what the dark hours of the night will be like in our downtown, in our neighborhood, a city wracked in pain and fraught with the tension of social injustice gone exponential.

we sit.  holding our heads.

we drove through downtown today for the first time.  it was the first time since sunday that we had even been out, beyond taking a short walk in the neighborhood.  we went to the grocery store where they had humongous stacks of water bottles near the door, ready for protesters, first responders, law enforcement, anyone thirsty in near 100 degree feels-like temperatures.  we picked up a few things and headed home, taking a slight sidetrip through our very-nearby downtown.

it was stunning.  heartbreaking.  it made me cry.

we had seen pictures of the downtown all boarded up, but we had not been there yet.  we did not ambulance chase nor were we there to help board up or bring food or water in the last few days.  we, paralyzed and from our home, wrote about this experience, wrote about the surreal feelings we had listening to the sounds of inequality, the smoky smells of injustice, the taste of fearful adrenaline all must feel in the situations that have brought us here.

and so we hold our heads in our hands.  we weep for the families of every person victimized by violence.  we stand in the muck of a society that has perpetuated this unfair treatment, that has made excuses for it, that has steeped itself in hatred and bigotry.

and we fear what is to come when the sun sets.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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THREE GRACES ©️ 2012 david robinson

 

 


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the boulders. [two artists tuesday]

IMG_3933

8pm curfew and we can hear car horns and sirens blaring, smoke is in the air.

midnight and we hear gunshots, loud booms, sirens.

4:30am and the sirens continue.  a storm arrives; the thunder adds to other unidentifiable sounds and is unnerving.  we sit, awake.

early morning and the sun has risen to a stormy day.  smoke fills our house from buildings, structures, vehicles burning in downtown and uptown kenosha.  it is hard to breathe.  but we are very much alive.

the town is shoring up the lakefront.  the bedrock is crumbling.  every time a storm comes, particularly from the north or northeast, the erosion is profound and feet are lost along the shore.  enormous boulders are being brought in to nest next to the smaller granite boulders already in place, to protect lives and property.  the theory is that these granite boulders will buffet the shoreline against the raging winds, the elements, the squalls, and the resulting rocks flung westward when those aggressive storms come.

the tempest of social injustice is railing.  the coastline between white and black is hot and the fire of anger is raging.  jacob blake, an african american man, who is right between the ages of My Girl and My Boy, was shot seven times in the back by a police officer on sunday.  he is fighting for his life and the community is fighting to be heard.

what will tonight bring?

as the bedrock of this community crumbles we wonder what seawall will be built to protect all, to guard against inequity, to keep everyone safe from violence, to stop the injustice against black members of our community, our state, our country? what intelligent, articulate conversation will take place?  what questions will be asked; what wisdom will be proffered?  what compassion and generous action will be offered?  how will we buffet against the rocks of hatred and bigotry flung by aggressive hostility?  what will the boulders of change look like?

“the wise man built his house upon a rock, house upon a rock, house upon a rock.  the wise man built his house upon a rock and the rains came tumbling down. 

the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the rock stood firm.

the foolish man built his house upon the sand, house upon the sand, house upon the sand.  the foolish man built his house upon the sand and the rains came tumbling down. 

the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the sand went splat!”

we have some decisions to make.  as a community, a state, a country.  what will we do?  will it be sand?  again?  or will it be rock?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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words on a wall. [flawed wednesday]

you hate me framed

tenuous.  we are all walking on the thinnest of threads.  the thinnest threads of life, health, relationship, value.

i don’t know what it would take to graffiti an outdoor stairwell with the stenciled words “you hate me”.  it stopped me as we took a friday night walk – miles around our downtown, across the bridge, through simmons island beach, along the lakefront.  we started down the stairwell to the channel and there it was.

“you hate me”

anonymous.  you hate me.  who’s the you?  who’s the me?  the anonymity factor adds concern for me.  someone, on that thinnest thread, felt tenuousness enough that they stenciled it on the concrete wall.

that it wasn’t “i hate you” and that it was “you hate me” makes it even more distressing.  it makes you wonder which sad and lonely face you passed might have been that of the stenciler.  it thrusts questions about your local community on your heart.  it is a gut punch that foists pondering upon you.  it forces you to search inside, to see if you are emanating that to others.

there are so many reasons right now to disagree with another, so many reasons for anger.  conflicting opinions distort the absolute importance of connectivity, of community, of the healing of love.  people with differing thoughts opine as experts in fields in which they have no actual experience; people proselytize and preach and persuade.  the bandwagons of what-seems-like-the-cool-gangs line up, circling, handing out candy to those who would like to be in the club, aiding them up onto the wagon and then looking away from their individual needs, only paying attention to replenish the candy and keep the furor going.

and so people feel hated.  enough to write it on a wall.

“to reconcile our seeming opposites, to see them as both, not one or the other, is our constant challenge.” (sue bender, plain and simple journal)

i wonder what i would have felt if upon the concrete wall the words “you love me” had been stenciled.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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