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Father/Daughter Father’s Day bike ride 2020.

Today on Father’s Day, I am used to being without my father. Still, how is it 19 years have passed since I spent a Father’s Day with my dad? Facebook is full of tributes to men like my father who are no longer around—some long gone and some whose recent losses leave sharp, new aches. But I am glad that so many of the people I know still have dads who are alive, including my husband and his brothers. I am grateful that Duane is still here and living in his own home—and I love seeing pictures of living fathers I knew in my youth and living fathers who I don’t know but who matter to people I know.

And, most importantly to me, I rejoice that my kids’ father, Sherman, is out celebrating at this time by riding his bike with our daughter. That he is doing so was not a given, because, despite his age and fitness level, he had a heart attack 2 ½ years ago. Thankfully, due to the addition of a stent as well as medication and diet changes, Sherman continues to ride on this earth, exercising as he always did—but with his heart pumping more effectively.

This man of my heart rides his bike—mostly by climbing up steep hills on his mountain bike—from three to five times a week. He is dedicated to staying strong. And, because he cares that others continue to have the opportunity to move as they are able, he wears a face covering.

I’m going to guess that many people these days are worried about their dads, grandpas, husbands, and other loved ones. But it appears that some other people don’t seem to worry about dads, grandpas, husbands, and loved ones who fall outside their circles.

To the man who took time to mock my husband and me for wearing masks as we walked our dogs outside, what about protecting my 91-year-old father-in-law, let alone my husband who still has heart disease—despite his activity level—or my 20-something son, who has asthma? You might call wearing a face covering the act of a sheep, but we call it wearing our hearts on our faces.

Because, seriously, how can people go around saying that all lives matter when they find so much offense in the suggestion of wearing a mask to protect others? If you really believe all lives matter, then show it by following general guidelines to protect all in these days of COVID-19. Understand that we all have special people who matter to us—and that what we’re saying by wearing face masks isn’t that we’re weak (although some of us might be, and wouldn’t protecting us still be worthy of showing that all lives matter?), but that we know that everyone has people in their lives that matter to them and people who they want to help stay well.

On this Father’s Day, let’s honor the wellness of all our special men—whether they are elderly, have medical conditions, or appear to be fit enough to battle whatever may come their way.

I don’t get to have a father to worry over anymore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t worry for the men I know in my life—or the men I don’t know—who matter to others. And, yes, that means men who society has traditionally treated as if they don’t matter. And—sigh—it also means the kind of men who would refuse to attempt to protect others or who, even worse, go out of their way to physically harm or mock those who look, think, or act differently than they do.

I have to admit, though, that I’m having a harder time these days attempting to care about people who aren’t afraid to shout that they won’t try to care for all. All means all. Since I can only truly work on my heart, it’s to my own heart where I have to return. So, I’ll repeat it for myself—and anyone else who needs to hear it.

Love one another. Our Father in Heaven gave His Son that message to give to us. Are we listening?

Love all the fathers. And everyone else. Keep wearing your hearts on your faces.

P.S. Miss you, Dad! Glad you are already safe.

Giraffe imposed on text about Newton's 2nd Law (momentum). Vintage TV with interference on screen instead of head.
Sticking my neck out. (Sketch by Christiana Lambert, 2015. For more, see: http://reviva-arts.com/)

The truer I am to myself these days, the more I realize how far I’ve strayed from a good majority of the people I know. And, why should I—the junior high social outcast—be so surprised over 40 years later?

There are so many factors that have contributed to my arrival at this sense of isolation—and some of those started with who I was born as. I didn’t agree with all I was raised to believe or that my peers desired.


But . . . it seems to me that maybe one of the biggest steps I took toward not fitting in was turning off the TV. My cultural connections began to diminish when I wasn’t watching shows that many people brought into conversations. By now, I can look back and see how off-the-grid it was not to get cable—and to never watch reality TV (except for in the rare situation where I was around some who was watching it). I stopped watching the local news after Columbine (1999) and I never watched cable news in any format (again, unless when I briefly saw it away from my home). I’ve also chosen never to listen to talk (yell?) radio.


I don’t live in a vacuum, though. It’s just that I like to read my news. That means I get to choose how much of a story to hear—or whether I think whoever wrote the piece is a trustworthy “narrator.” In my day job, I read for a living and spend time assessing the validity of statements and sources.

While I’ve always read news, I didn’t used to get a sense that I personally needed to keep an eye on my country’s actions. I believed in the checks and balances built into the operating of this country (yes, I realize there’s quite a bit of privilege and naivety built into that belief). My philosophy was that you and I might disagree on some major issues, but there was no need for us to get into those kinds of discussions as long as we had other connections in common.

Therefore, when I joined the social media world, I took great pride in keeping my presence neutral. Even my blog was a “slice of life” forum, where I chose to avoid challenging people. I had such a wide variety of Facebook friends that FB couldn’t even figure out what kinds of political ads to give me for the 2012 presidential elections.

By the 2016 election year, I had moved to hiding a lot of content and sources, and I started hiding more people. Facebook finally could “know” me. I was done acting like Switzerland (a country that really gained a lot of benefits from all sides by remaining neutral, didn’t it?).

My media-related sense of isolation came to a head during that awful year when I realized how different what I valued seemed to be from that of those who would support such a cruel and bombastic reality personality as the man who became our president. All those years ago–when I intentionally chose not to watch TV shows where so much of the entertainment value seemed to come from cheering for participants to be voted off an island–didn’t prepare me for how different I was from so many of my peers. While I wasn’t watching, so many were. I never envisioned how our society would change to one where many people would not only accept the backstabbing inherent in getting rid of all competitors, but would also adulate a leader who excelled in a kind of scripted brutal power built on bullying and cheap showmanship while scorning the pursuit of true knowledge and accomplishments.

These days, it’s beyond amazing to me to realize which FB friends have become my tribe. And which FB friends support ideas and beliefs that I cannot.

Now, here we are in 2020, a year all to its own in acclaim. The rhetoric—drummed up to a fever pitch by the bully-in-chief and his misuse of language long before COVID-19 arrived on our shores—continues to inflame how we discuss differences. If our emotions have the ability to manifest in our physical bodies, then for me, the rashes on my ears are saying, “Enough!” Other than a brief healing response to medication prescribed remotely by my doctor, the skin on my ears is burning up. I cannot tolerate all the awful things I hear—both by those in leadership—and by people I formerly respected who support what is being said (and done) in our country’s name.

There are topics I don’t debate—and I am certain for many of you there are other topics you don’t debate. Both sides of an argument are not always equal. We don’t have to pretend to be friends anymore if doing so means constantly accepting words that feel like accelerants on our core beliefs. We come together on social media by choice—ostensibly for connection and entertainment. I listen to opinions that are different from mine but when I consistently feel morally outraged by a position, maybe I’m not being narrow-minded—maybe I am responding in a manner that is absolutely consistent with who I am.

And who I am is pretty much that person who often questioned what I was told. Being in this position is no more comfortable than it was when I was a kid—but I can’t hide it anymore. In 2020, it’s obvious that it’s no longer just about me. I don’t know what it’s going to take to stop our country from burning up, but I have an obligation to speak up.

But I’m not obligated to listen to everything others say in the name of both sides. Choosing isolation doesn’t mean I don’t hear things that I don’t agree with—it just means I get to put boundaries on how much I let in. The only way I can continue to fight for what I believe is right is for me is to stop listening to so many of you who have shown that what you value is pretty much the exact opposite of what I value.

raised fistMy kids attended a small “school of choice” for middle school. One of the main focuses of their middle school was teaching the kids leadership, including learning the difference between acting in a proactive versus reactive manner. Their school operated without services (which could be provided though the other more traditional schools in the district, if necessary). They got a percentage of a principal, if you will, meaning the teachers pretty much ran the school. Like any institution, the school was subject to the personalities of those in charge and to how those people applied the policies.

The school’s kids had access to large practice fields for their recess time—or whatever you call recess for middle schoolers. The teachers often stood at the top of the hill while the kids milled around below them.

One day, during spring of 8th grade for my son, he was being harassed by one particular kid. There were two groups made up of girls and boys around those two boys. The kid pushed down my son. My son got up. The kid pushed him down again. He got up again. After the third time the kid pushed him down, my son got up and swacked the guy with his baseball hat. Ah ha—the teachers spied that move and called out both boys.

Despite all the eye witness accounts, each boy received an equal suspension from school. The “percentage” principal was called over to talk with both boys. When he met with my son, this man who barely knew him said, “Your hair is greasy and you smell bad. Don’t you ever wash?” I have no idea what he said to the other boy—the one, who by every student’s account, even those from the other group, was the aggressor.

My husband and I were called in to talk with the teachers. And we asked them, “So if our son is walking down the hall and someone reaches out and hits him—and he responds in any physical way—he will be suspended? And they said, “Yes. We have zero tolerance for violence.” Well, I guess that’s zero tolerance for the violence they personally see. I mean, they seemed to imply they just couldn’t believe our son responded in a reactive manner to how he was being treated. And no praise for the times he resisted the urge to respond.

As if most 13-year-old boys have the maturity to walk away, especially if they tried to do so and it didn’t make a difference.

So, the teachers didn’t appear to have the responsibility to de-escalate a situation, weigh any circumstances, or recognize that they pretty much had tolerated violence—until our son responded to violence committed against him. As we heard it, they couldn’t help it—their hands were tied. A rule is a rule. Until it’s applied differently for different people.

And, yes, we had previously experienced this sort of uneven treatment when our daughter was pushed down and injured in grade school. One sore arm and $200 x-ray for her . . . led to the school talking with the boy and his parents. That was it.

So much for zero tolerance.

For my kids, those were a few of the memorable times in their lives when the people in charge did not treat them justly. Turns out that life is not a game. However, even as really little kids, all of us know enough to feel outraged when people use different rules in order to win. Cries of “that’s not fair” are common from our youngest days.

Imagine a society where day in and day out, some people are reminded just how much the rules work better for people who aren’t like them—and that many people are just fine with that—if they’re the people getting the better part of that deal.

As long as we as a society accept the validity of treating certain people one way while treating others another, we shouldn’t be surprised when rage builds, especially when systemic inequities exist in the application of justice and opportunity.

But for those of us willing to admit that applying rules unfairly is not okay—now what? If we want to avoid being at the end of reactive responses to aggression and suppression, first we have to see and point out such oppression. And then we need to be proactive, both in leading and in choosing leaders who will unshackle this nation from its lopsided history of establishing justice for only some.

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