The month of February has been designated annually (since 1976) as Black History Month in the United States. In his proclamation address announcing the designation, President Ronald Reagan noted: “understanding the history of Black Americans is a key to understanding the strength of our nation.” Indeed. In 2019, the Census Bureau estimated the Black population to be about 48 million individuals, approximately 15% of the entire US population. This year’s theme focuses on the Black family. It’s fitting to honor Black Americans whose presence has enriched our country.
As a child, reading was one of my favorite pastimes. I couldn’t have been very old – maybe ten or eleven – when my imagination began feasting on the classics. (If you’re familiar with any of my posts in 2013, it should be clear my reading tastes tend to be eclectic.) What I especially enjoyed were adventure tales where seemingly ordinary people performed heroic deeds.
On Tuesday, my conversation with a friend briefly referenced a mutual friend and colleague. My friend characterized this colleague as “bright, ambitious, likable” … but“so misguided about bedrock principles.” (Yes, as one might suspect on Election Day, we were talking politics.) In essence, my friend puzzled: how can someone so smart be so dumb?!
Through the years, I’ve had similar conversations with others. When political philosophies differ, the rigid scale of right or wrong tends to prevail. My political convictions are right, my neighbor’s are wrong (or stupid or ignorant). This is precisely why mothers throughout time have advised their children to avoid discussions of religion or politics! Continue reading “And It Never Happened Anyway”→
The recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has elicited reams of commentary on her life and her legacy. Recognizing the deep affection she had for fellow Justice Antonin Scalia (who died in 2016), I could respect how two esteemed colleagues from divergent philosophical backgrounds remained close friends.
The day after Ginsburg’s death, Harper’s Bazaar reposted a piece (originally published in January 2019) describing the Justice as “our feminist hero,”“a towering force to be reckoned with,” and “a pop-culture sensation.”NPR (online) described her as a “Champion of Gender Equality” and a “demure firebrand.”The Brennan Center for Justice was equally effusive: “small, mighty, relentless and unforgiving.”
My dad earned his livelihood by driving a truck. As a very young man, he delivered furniture. During World War II, he was assigned to deliver supplies to the troops. In the picture below, he’s the young man at right. When Dad returned to civilian life, he continued delivering furniture until he received a job offer from a friend (I’ll call him M.). The company where M. worked needed truck drivers, long and short haul. For the rest of his working life, Dad drove a truck under this company’s name. Continue reading “Cinderella’s Last Date”→
As a tribute to my dear mother, I’ve been compiling certain documents in my possession that add depth to and understanding of her life. A separate section of this blog is titled Blood Type / West and under that heading, I’ve attached a couple related documents. (More documents will follow in time.)
In 2006, we celebrated Mom’s birthday with much more fanfare than usual. We threw a party, Hats Off For Ruthe, and as part of the celebration, I created a book about her life. Given she lived another 14 years, the book is somewhat dated as regards her children and grandchildren. Still, it’s a good record.
Another tab in the Blood Type / West sub-section offers some background information about the boarding school my Mom attended. It was an amazing place for a young girl who came from a modest background and was suddenly bereft (having lost her father) while her mother was thrust into the workforce.
A couple times, I had the privilege (with my Mom) to visit the location of this school (in Newtown Square, PA) which shuttered its doors to students in 1977. The buildings are still there, repurposed. We were able to enter the imposing administration building as well as the inviting stone cottages where students lived under the oversight of a dorm “mother.”
A previously coddled child myself, it was difficult for me to imagine my mother as a six-year-old being brought to this cottage and entrusted (by her own mother) into the care of strangers. It was (no doubt) a crucible for the development of strong character. She could have felt the bitter sting of abandonment; instead, she learned gratefulness for God’s unique provision. She also learned the value of self-reliance.
In large part, the person my mother became reflects the transformation of tragedy (the death of her father) into beauty, as she received an excellent education within a safe environment where multiple benefits (usually reserved for wealthy families) were available to her. Thanks to the generosity of an unknown philanthropist (who’d been dead 20 years when my mom was born), young fatherless girls received a wonderful start in life. Though I wasn’t one of those girls, I’m certainly a beneficiary of aforementioned philanthropy … and how thankful I am.
A couple weeks ago, one of my nephews and I conversed about my limited knowledge of the name he bears … my maiden name Stricker. He is one of three remaining male descendants who carries my grandfather’s name. Whether there will be future bearers of the Stricker name, only time will tell.
My nephew sought information about our forebears, where they came from, how to view himself through the lense of previous generations. It’s always heartening (to me) when someone shows an interest in our heritage. Of course, I acknowledge it’s a consuming lifelong pursuit.
Tensions are nothing new for New York City. According to History.com, an 1857 NYC squabble (illustrated below) involved two rival police forces. It’s an interesting tidbit from history, don’t you think?
With this long-ago situation a variant of what’s happening today in cities across our country, newscasts have become more tedious by the day. Incidents like this, and this, and this certainly give me pause. What’s next? The whipping post and pillory? It seems intentional humiliation of individuals is now an acceptable power tactic to keep the timid, huddled masses in line. Continue reading “Stand”→
Beginning in the Fall of 2014, I commenced a serious personal study of The Book of Job. This ancient biblical account relates the gripping story of Job. Today, we’d say he was highly-privileged and experienced the perks of life few of his contemporaries may have enjoyed.
The book begins with an unremarkable statement: “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job.” The next sentence tells us Job was “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” But within just a couple paragraphs, the situation turns bad — really bad — for Job.
Thus begins an ages-old dialogue probing the goodness (or monstrous cruelty) of Almighty God. The question begs to be answered: why must a righteous man endure suffering? If a man is indeed “blameless, upright and God-fearing” (as the narrative proclaims Job was), then doesn’t he have every right to be exempt from humanity’s pain and affliction?