And They Came To Believe And It Came To Pass ~ Late Evening Thoughts

[updated video link 9/26/2012]

Hopefully, by the time I’m done this post will make sense.  Starting with Friday, this was an amazing weekend for me.  I celebrated a dear friend’s birthday, went with two VERY dear friends to Rocky Horror Picture Show with a wonderful, silly and noisy audience, and Sunday went to a club where I actually felt free to dance and not worry about the “youngers” standing on the sides going “ewwwww”!  I also, at the club had my inner theater geek (30+ years in theater will do that do you) explode as I got to see ~ but sadly not touch ~ the computerized controls for the entire light system.  Yes, it was an amazing, exhausting but fun weekend.  A true mountain top experience.

As we all know, you really can’t live on the mountain top ~ you inevitably must go down into the valley.  And that’s where I came to today.  One thing I’ve learned is that there’s really no good grass or water on the mountain top, it’s down in the valley.  While the valley may not be totally comfortable and it’s certainly NOT the high of the top, it still is very, very important and extremely worthwhile ~ if you let it.

As I was dealing with the “down” of today, my mind went to some of my friends complaints that I have a tendency to believe in people far longer than I should.  I know that it is sometimes a problem.  I had one person I was trying to help who fell into the pattern of using me to “have a place to stay to sober-up, get a little food to eat, clothes washed and a little money” – rinse, repeat.  I have another that I have such a soft spot for…a couple of years ago, he was trying to spark a business and I made an investment.  Not in the business, but in him.  I believed in him then, and I believe in him now.  I’m seeing some pay-off from the investment, but I must be the only one so far.

But as I was wondering in my mind ~ there is a saying that “My mind is a dangerous place to wander in, unaccompanied ~ especially at night ~ I began to question my belief in people.  Then, my inner “me” took me back through much of my life … the problems in college, relationships that failed – badly, the three suicide attempts.  It was the third attempt  (which I posted about here before – feel free to read the history),  when at the CRU – the Crisis Residential Unit – that someone actually said they believed in me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there were plenty that believed in me, but somehow I had to come to the bottom before I could really realize it.  And as I climbed out of THAT “slough of despond” I became acutely aware of how powerful our belief in someone can be.  Oh, I’ve done it before, but there always seemed to be an agenda.  Now, I’m working agenda free.

To me, that’s where the power really begins.  You see someone not just as they are, but as they could be for themselves…..not as the person YOU want them to be.  I can’t change anyone, I can only encourage and believe in them.  They may not take the paths I would have or would have chosen – but they are on their own journey not mine.

I’m going to post more on this at another time, but also during the “down” of today, I found this video.  Here’s the power of only ONE person believing in someone.  He had only one person, his grandmother…I still cry each time I watch this video.  I want my life to be as she is … in the background, but believing.  That’s one of the things I’d like to be remembered for when – in the not too distant future – I’m gone that someone will say: “He believed in me”.

First off, I’m sorry there will probably be an ad (it is from You Tube after all) and please watch it all the way through and see what terrible power being told “you’re not good enough” can have over someone.  I’m not saying we have to encourage someone when they obviously can’t do something.  There’s no way at my age and (ahem) physical condition I’ll be an Olympic athlete – but there’s other things I can do…. and so can you.

[It appears I own an apology to Freemantle AND X-factor UK …Here’s the video embedded]

See people where they are, and for who they are … and as I used to tell my speech students, don’t change the pattern, just eliminate the flaws.

And We Got Here How? (Part 3) ~

As I continue this ramble through time, I stopped last just at the Birmingham riots.  As I said, these riots and other events that followed showed us that we were not living the quaint life we all thought we were.  As I said, we knew that the “Leave It To Beaver” shows were far from reality, but it was a “reality” that we seemed to cling to as what could be and, more importantly, what SHOULD be.  The race changes knock a deep hole in that belief.  As I was growing up during that time, a lot of “get back to where they belong” and “they don’t know their place” seemed to crop up in a lot of conversations.  No, those exact words weren’t the ones that were used but the intent was the same.  “Uppity” was also a word I was introduced to …

This whole upset I don’t think has ever really gone away.  Because what seemed to come on the heels of all that was, of course, the Kent State demonstrations and the photograph that still haunts today …. (BTW this photo was taken by John Filo)

Now, the second hit arrives.  This wasn’t a death by a terrorist, by a criminal or an accident.  This was by someone who was a part of a group that we all believed were there to protect us, help us and get us through the tough times.  Now, we had new terms “dirty hippy”, “radical” “peacenik”, idiot sponger” and such.  Also remember, during much of this time Dr. Carl McItire and others like him were causing everyone (including myself) to be frightened of communists everywhere – but especially where you least expected them.  This was actually a “whistle” to be afraid of anyone that didn’t look like/sound like/act like/marry like/eat like/smell like whatever the standard was at that time.

So, this allows folks to easily move back and forth from “not like us” and “not white like us”.  . And this also cemented even further the cynicism and distrust that had bubbled onto the surface of so many lives.

Sunday is the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the events that would (in my mind) show how we got here ….

And We Got Here How? (Part 2) ~

Over these next few posts, please keep in mind that much of this occurred while growing up in Montana.  Some things seemed very far away, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t deeply aware of what was happening – especially as a university student.  Of course, Montana didn’t have a large population of ANY Ethnic group….as Dick Gregory once said at the University of Montana – Missoula: “If someone wanted to hold a race-riot in Montana, they could use the high school Gymnasium…”

We, in Montana, were not the only ones with a quaint view of life.  Even my Mother knew that “Leave it to Beaver”, “Ozzie and Harriet”, “Father Knows Best” were not exactly the reality of all time.  That didn’t mean, however, that this didn’t color how we wanted our world to be/look.  Also be aware, that I grew up in a “peace at any cost” household, so a son who was sticking a toe in the waters of activism – let alone some of the OTHER choices I was making in my life – probably caused no end of consternation.

Probably nothing hit our lives more than the one photo that I posted … the fire hoses being turned on school kids.


Now, this part of the story is a little muddled in memory, so bear with me.  I even contacted my sister – she’s “slightly” older than I am to try and clear up some confusion.  I think we really confused each other even more …

In the late 50’s, my Father’s Rotary Club wanted to sponsor a foreign exchange student – from Africa.  At that time, in our town of Kalispell – there were one family of blacks and one single guy who’d been a shoeshine guy for as long as I can remember ….

There was concern about what – if any – problems there might be.  (Remember our quaint view here folks).  At that time, one of the more popular cafe places in town STILL had a sign in the window that said: “No Coloreds Allowed”.  My Dad took it upon himself to visit every business in town and find out if he would be able to shop there, eat there, go there, etc.  According to my Mom, the results somewhat shocked him….and he went on a campaign to change that.  Sadly, the sign in the cafe stayed – but everything else seemed to work out.

Problem solved, you say … and I’m sure in many minds it was.  But you know the drill – as long as everyone knows their place.

Birmingham not only challenged that, but showed that there was a lot more going on then people were willing to admit or even face.   At that time, there were more blacks in town.  I have no idea what they thought, but I do know that what out neighbors and friends thought pretty much mirrored what was being said/thought elsewhere.

More on that next post … which WILL be sooner, I promise!!!!