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Perhaps it is a knitter’s disease, or something stirred up by the breeze of shuttled needles, but, like every knitter I know I have three or more unfinished projects at all times. These past few weeks I’ve been making a concerted effort to put the final stitches on the incomplete socks, coat, pillow covers and sweaters spilling out of the basket. Despite such industry, I suspect I will never get ahead of the future projects waiting on an overstuffed shelf. Balls of yarn beckon, and I yearn to start something new.
What is it that makes me turn from one project to another leaving dangling threads? It might be some deep-seated wish to deny the possibility that life itself will ever end. All those partial projects waiting for an uncertain completion date might also indicate a temperament inclined to boredom, or alternately a short attention span. Or, they might indicate that I’m inclined to take on more than I can accomplish. Women, they say, tend to multi-task, and I confess to finding a certain satisfaction in moving from sock to sweater and back again in just one evening.
My knitting habits might willfully be exchanged for a more linear approach. But, I don’t think I’ll ever make the switch. Each project holds dozens of tomorrows woven into its fabric. Tomorrows linked not by a failure to finish, but, by the promise of accomplishments yet to come.
When Henry Louis Gates was arrested at his home for disorderly conduct, I wasn’t surprised. More than twenty years ago, in a suburb south of Boston, a black man was arrested as an intruder while sitting in his car in his own driveway. Last week, the ‘profiling’ that made national news began when someone called the police to report black men breaking into a house. Separated by twenty years, the incidents reveal something about harbored fear and prejudice that extend into the heart of American thinking.
I had a friend who called a medical hotline to discuss his emotional state. Al was at times diagnosed as bipolar or schizophrenic, and on this day he felt the need of some advice. Deciding that this man was a ‘danger to himself or others’ the responder called in the police without informing him. Al’s agitation increased when the police arrived at his door. At one point an officer drew his gun, and despite this man’s efforts to assure the police that he was going to be okay, they took him off to a psychiatric institution.
My friend is white, but, his emotional issues presented the police with a problem they couldn’t resolve. When police officers don’t know how to de-escalate a situation they arrest someone or drag them off to a treatment facility. Sometimes, what should be the last resort becomes a knee-jerk response when an officer lacks the right training or temperament. And, yes, police officers are just as likely to act out of prejudice as the rest of us. Angry black men, and ‘mentally unbalanced’ white men raise specters of fear they don’t deserve and haven’t earned.
Traveling through a small town in Massachusetts, I was stopped and issued a speeding ticket. I tried to reason with the officer, but, my entreaties met with the response, “Officer’s discretion.” What an arresting thought, that police officers should use discretion, not to invoke their power to arrest, but, to gain sufficient distance from an unarmed man who is using only enflaming words to express his anger and shame to choose between arrest and quiet resolution.
This week is the fortieth anniversary of the lunar landing. The blast off was in 1969, but the mission took off in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy challenged the legislature and the people to put a person on the moon before the end of the decade.
The President spoke, and it was done. Of course the fact that Americans saw themselves competing in a race for space prominence with the Soviet Union helped to spur the project. It was also a challenge that met the self-perception of Americans as a ‘can-do’ people who could outstrip the technological abilities of anyone, anywhere, anytime.
When will that ‘can-do’ attitude bring health-enchancing, preventative, chronic and acute medical care to every citizen? Picture the outcome. No more families brought to their knees by medical bills. No more young adults refusing to buy health insurance so they can pay the rent or meet school bills. No more elders paying for health insurance instead of eating. No more maladies unexamined because it costs too much to even visit the ‘doc in a box.’ Imagine earlier intervention for diabetes, chronic heart problems and cancer.
Repeated attempts to reform health care have failed. The recent move toward reform is being opposed by many. Where’s that ‘can do’ spirit of the ’60′s? Why aren’t we eager to outstrip countries that have national health care with a bigger and better program? Where are the dreamers?
Calling all dreamers and doers. It’s time for us to speak out, to help our country to take a giant leap into the brave new world of health care rights for all Americans.
At General Assembly a minister confessed she hadn’t written anything to her blog since February, and that her spouse often remarked to her that she should write something. Both statements fit my situation; so, I hereby resolve to post to this blog once a week, whether I have anything to say or not.
I’ve been away from the pulpit for four Sundays. What a delicious break from the routine of mining topics, developing themes, and trying to craft words that carry a message. The struggle that accompanies sermon development brings me to the blogging screen with some trepidation. I want to offer cogent arguments, compelling stories and complete thoughts. I tend to see the post as a mini-sermon; every word reflecting something of what I hold most dear.
Of course, my sermons don’t always hold to that high standard. Once in a while I sit down to write the announced sermon having forgotten what inspiration seized me weeks before. Wondering why I didn’t write copious notes the very moment a brilliant idea arose in my fertile mind, I bend to the task of making new sense out of old topics. Sometimes even a thoroughly mulled, completely comprehensible theme defies mastery at the keyboard.
If I’m to keep this new resolve, I will have to dislodge the goal of creating a mini-sermon. I will have to just write. What emerges may be epic or profoundly personal, it may reflect confusion or inspiration. At worst it will be half-formed thoughts shared in the heat of the moment. At best it might help me to order my experiences of the world, and to express myself in immediacy of thought, without aiming for the ‘perfect presentation.’