Monthly Archives: September 2016

Fer Klempt, For Good

There are sometimes my heart is so full that I get choked with emotion. Last Friday we walked to Mercerdale Park on Mercer Island, a suburb of Seattle, to watch the high school homecoming parade. Really we went to watch the high school band. Really we went to watch our grandson play the trumpet in the band.

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A combination of things came together to overfill my heart. First and foremost was seeing our grandson, 16, standing amongst his band mates. I felt so much love and pride mixed with awe that the baby I’d held (not so long ago, was it?) was now this accomplished young man. I was completely fer klempt.

The sound of the band and the nip in the air stirred something in me too. I had a subliminal instant flashback to the days of Garfield High and the UDub—going to the games with my friends and with my dad. In this troubled world, it was comforting to see untainted exuberance. There was a small town innocence without the feeling of xenophobia that we’ve been witnessing on the news. And I didn’t think too hard about injustice and prejudice for a moment. I just enjoyed.

The next day, the breaking news on television was the rally and  march in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was a peaceful protest against police shooting black men like Keith Scott and Terence Crutcher. Hundreds of Charlotte residents turned out—blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics, gay, straight and in between. Parents pushed their kids in strollers, teenage kids with drums beat out a cadence—much like what had happened the afternoon before on Mercer Island.

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It was the white people wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts that got me fer klempt the second time in two days. They get it, I thought as I choked back tears. They understand where the focus has to be—not right now on all lives mattering, but on the lives that haven’t been mattering.

America is a complex country with systemic problems. It’s no fairy tale and a lot of times there are no happy endings. It’s better to acknowledge that, instead of covering it up. Otherwise, we’re just ostriches and the status quo will rule. Call me sentimental, but I’d like to see Americans working together with mutual respect to solve our problems. In this country, we have the potential to do just that. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

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Facing Terrorism

When I opened my computer today I saw the following headline:

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-10-36-33-am“Oh, boy,” I said aloud. “The Muslim community must be going crazy.”

I hadn’t read the article yet. Didn’t know that Ahmad Khan Rahami had been radicalized. Didn’t know he was 28 and that his family lived in New Jersey. I just saw the name and guessed he was Muslim.

It reminded me of when I first read about Madoff. “That’s not a Jewish name, is it?” I asked my husband.

I was hoping that uber-scoundrel was not Jewish—not of my tribe. I knew that if one of us does something wrong, the rest of us gets painted by the same guilty brush. Even if we are completely innocent.

I was afraid of a backlash and that was before the recent resurgence of anti Semitism that is plaguing our country and our world.

I can only imagine what the law abiding Muslims across America are thinking right now. Gone was their hope that their names wouldn’t be linked with the identity of this terrorist. But the truth is that Ahmad Khan Rahami did this. Not a whole group.

When I opened the article I learned that Ahmad Khan Rahami shot the first officer who approached him in the stomach. He injured another. His intent was to injure and kill as many innocent citizens of New Jersey and New York as he could. He was going after civilians enjoying the last days of summer, just as all of us are in our own hometowns. The bombs were loaded to inflict huge damage to flesh and bone. No wonder he is called a terrorist. His actions are terrifying.

So what do we do? What is our course of action? Do we stay indoors and hide? Do we say that all Muslims are terrifying? Do we give into the terrorists’ acts?
I say no. Let’s stay on a steady course. Let’s not be afraid to live our lives. Let’s not forget the acts of bravery by the police and fire departments. Let’s use reason and rational judgment before we act. Let’s be intelligent about how we analyze what has happened and how we should react. Let’s be guided by wisdom and actual facts.

 

R.K.VR.Y Quarterly

This is a fun interview I did with Laura Taylor for rkvry quarterly. My essay, A Fine Line, is in its current publication.

photohttp://rkvryquarterly.com/interview-with-cyndy-muscatel/