Posts Tagged ‘Survival


Time to Unpack

I’ve called it History’s Quandary. The Middle East, where enemies and allies change by the day and the best we can ever hope for is choosing the least unfortunate. Right now, our president is standing in fallout that is too deep to sort through, and for that he deserves our sympathy. Presidents before him have acted on the best knowledge to make the best decisions only to be judged by generations of history.

Right now, though, the President is not only drowning in the fallout from the troubled Middle East, but also at home. His Israeli peace plan has brought nothing but controversy over a steadfast ally. I have a knee-jerk opinion on what he said, but I like to do a little research before I speak out on the Middle East, so I’ve spent two days reading the blog circuit regarding this speech, Hamas, Abbas, Netanyahu, the Muslim Brotherhood…Finally I came to a conclusion.

It’s time to unpack, America, or our baggage is going to drown us.

Every comment stream I read turned into a circular argument of name-calling, blaming, excuses, and hate. Is this what our great nation has become? Golda Maier said that there will be war until Palestinians can learn to love their children as much as they hate the Jews. What about us? After reading all I have, it occurs to me that Americans are so caught up in rhetoric, we cannot reach a viable solution on any issue. In the name of being right, we have forgotten that love fosters growth, but hate destroys everything in its path. The Israeli conflict is an appropriate backdrop for such a realization. Israel, though a small and young nation, has grown more than many of its peers in the area. The nation is democratic, based on a general concept of freedom. It’s peers are bent on destruction. Nothing can destroy and intimidate its way to prosperity – not governments, ideas, egos, or armies.

We Americans inherited a legacy of peace and prosperity that we have squandered. Now that it is threatened, we are up to our ears in blame and hate that jeopardizes our future. We cannot even agree on good an evil. When we reached out to the Katrina victims, there were criticisms. The Gulf oil spill? Not an environmental tragedy, but a political blame-fest. We fight about gunmen in our schools and killings on the border. Obama compared children being blown up on school buses with the humiliation of occupation and NOBODY SAID A THING. Children are being killed, people, and we have turned it into a political debate without spending a moment to grieve for humanity.

America has always stood for what is right and good. She has been a bastion of freedom and solace. Right now, though, America doesn’t know what is right and therefore cannot stand. Instead, we have replaced good vs. evil with red vs. blue and are battering both to the ground. I promise that our skirmishes over things like abortion and clean water will look luxurious when we are fighting for existence. If we cannot come together and remember that a dead child is a tragedy no matter who her parents were and that injustice is a scourge, we will fall from within.

Right now, we are carrying our own versions of history in heavy backpacks that weigh us down, hindering our movement and keeping us out of the fight. We have got to unpack those so that we can step up and remember that good is worth fighting for. The enemy is powerful, but he should be easy for us to recognize – he’s the one threatening our future and that of the world. Usually, he has less problem saying he is bent on murder than we have believing him.


All That Comes With It

Fargo is my home. This admission has always invited jokes about the accent, the snow, the wind, height, Olle and Lina. Now this admission is a badge of honor. We’re all watching these floodwaters rising and we’re wondering how long they have. I’m sure many of us have questioned the stamina of sand bags. Miraculously, while the sandbags hold, so does the spirit of these people. There are no complaints, no cries of “unfair,” no calls for government entitlements. Everyone has come together to head this off. What we are not seeing on the news is that these people have worked tirelessly in freezing weather that those who live south of the Canadian border cannot relate to. They are wet, tired, and aching – young and old, but still they smile at their neighbors. When they finish their length of the levy, they move on to the next. In this situation, finished is not a word they recognize.

Life is difficult up north. The largely rural area is often looked down upon, but it is even more often underestimated. Heritage runs deep up there and there is such determination. When I posted the video earlier, I was shocked to watch it. I remember these places that are washing away. The best homes line the Red River. There was the bridge we used to cross to get to my grandmother’s house. It’s still standing strong, but it is so nearly submerged. Then Lindenwood Park. That was my favorite place in the whole world until I was about 15 and discovered skiing. Lindenwood park is where I learned to be a child and now it may all be gone.

Watching the video and looking at pictures of this devastation is like having visual proof that my childhood bliss has been taken, washed away in the floodwaters of adult responsibilities and obligations. As I have suspected, there is no going back. All that remains are the lessons learned and the heritage that taught them.

These people who sing while they stack sandbags are my heritage. The spirit that lies within them, pushing them to reinvent rugged individualism as everything changes around them, is in me, too, and of that I am fiercely proud. I have always known their strength. I have seen the farms and the work it takes to keep them running in sub SUB zero temperatures. I know my great-grandmother who got a college education in the early part of the century so she could make a good life for her and her son. I know of my great-great aunt who lived alone in one room so that she could finish high school to move away from the difficult life on those farms.

Childhood may be long, long gone, but what is left is determination and immeasurable strength. It was a gift given me by these people. Now, as the entire nation watches, it is a gift for everyone. A glimpse of what it takes to truly survive.

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