Jail Break!

Here we are … 8, 10, 12 weeks in with this crazy (and seriously overheated, if I may offer my personal opinion) pandemic. Have you enjoyed this bizarre social experiment as much as I have? (Granted, one of my last posts noted my comfortability with self-isolating.)

It’s been relatively easy for me to follow the guidelines. We live in a state where stay-at-home recommendations (for the most part) were modest, mostly respectful to sensible adults listening and heeding medical and government guidelines. Truth be told, my Beloved has trudged off to work every single day. It’s what he does.

Then, a week ago, we saw the headline “New York Times lists COVID-19 daily growth rate in NWA as highest in the nation.” Imagine the reactions! This isn’t something we aspire for top-list status. For myself, I’m hoping herd immunity kicks in soon.

Still, we’re adjusting here. And the good news I’ve been reading about – seemingly everywhere –  is that rioting, looting and pillaging cures the spread of COVID-19! It certainly takes the spotlight off  all the dreary predictions and public shaming (when someone isn’t wearing a mask … or sin-of-sins, failing to maintain proper distancing).

Long after a range of normalcy is restored across the world, the awful effects of COVID-19 will remain. So many individuals have lost their livelihoods and scores of businesses have been crippled beyond return. I’m no doctor, but even I can see this virus will go down in history beyond the number of people who died from the disease itself. I can’t help but think of its long-lasting psychological impact on children.

Further, the ease with which government encroached on personal liberties was stunning. (If that doesn’t bother you, maybe take some time to read the US Constitution.) Measles, influenza and smallpox were serious concerns for the founding fathers, but somehow they managed to secure our nation and enumerate certain rights of citizens … despite the numerous health challenges they encountered.

Don’t misunderstand, I know the virus was (and remains) a notable threat, especially for elderly folks with other health complications. As various states continue to transition through phases of re-opening, I’m optimistic we’ll see states and the country as a whole flourish and regain some economic and spiritual wholeness. But please, let’s not forget the essential freedoms previous generations fought and died to uphold; let’s hold them close, close enough we won’t let go.

In the meantime, a sonnet reflecting my thoughts on the lock-down.

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Let’s Go to the Tape

As in Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem, our “stockings were hung by the chimney with care” … save one minor detail – we don’t actually have a chimney, just a mantelpiece (where a gas insert is supposed to go). Twenty stockings in all were hung, one for each of our grown offspring, as well as the in-laws and grands, with an extra stocking included for my Beloved’s brother who lives nearby.

Given the number of people coming together, our Christmas gatherings usually have a boisterous and sometimes chaotic quality. Children are everywhere, running inside and out, upstairs and down, constantly asking when we eat next, or more importantly, is it time to open presents yet!

The pandemonium was short-lived this year. Because Christmas fell on a Monday, out-of-town family members were quick to depart. A ski slope beckoned. Others had work responsibilities. The adults didn’t even have time for a customary late-night poker match.

Once the house fell silent, I remembered a blog post I’d read before Christmas:  Why Christmas Never Lives Up to the Buildup. Posted by Tony Reinke, a senior writer at DesiringGod.org, the post mainly addresses Christians living in what Reinke calls “the space between.” (With both Christmas and my birthday coming on the same day, I experience this “buildup” as a kind of double whammy.)

Continue reading “Let’s Go to the Tape”

Survivors All

Our culture reveres survivors … and rightly so! The stories of concentration camp and holocaust survivors so stir our emotions, we often see these stories turned into movies. The Diary of Anne Frank was produced multiple times. I’m surprised The Hiding Place (from 1975) hasn’t been remade. In 2014, Unbroken was produced and directed by actress Angelina Jolie who deemed the survivor story of Louis Zamperini compelling.

Cancer survivors have their unique stories. Sexual assault survivors reveal horrific tales of abuse and torture. Given the admiration we accord survivors today, marketers exploit our curiosity by producing numerous movies, games and television series with a survival theme. (I must confess my fascination with Alone, now in its third season on the History Channel.) Continue reading “Survivors All”

The Big House

On separate occasions over the last couple weeks, two of my grandchildren have asserted:  “My house is bigger than yours.” Perhaps this is a twenty-first century equivalent to the claim from my era:  my dad is stronger than your dad!strong man

When the five-year old initially made the statement, I gently disagreed with him. “Yes, you live in a big house, but not as large as this one.” Factually, I was correct but this grandson would have none of it. Some weeks later, when my four-year old granddaughter posited the identical suggestion, I admitted the possibility. (She does live in a larger home than the grandson.) Continue reading “The Big House”

Where Is Excellence?

Earlier this month, I posted a video of the most honest “commencement” speech young graduates of today should be required to hear. Almost every day this week, I’ve talked with at least one person (most of whom were educators) who expressed his or her deep concern about the current state of education and learning in our country.Scholarship-clip-art-300x264In my state, there’s been an ongoing discussion about Common Core and the state Board of Education has been re-evaluating. Earlier this week, it appeared they’d be adopting another curriculum. However, decision-makers have ruled against the recommendations of a review committee and the process is dividing educators and reviewers. Continue reading “Where Is Excellence?”

Refuse To Be A Victim

Back in the days when I was in eighth or ninth grade, my girlfriend and I decided we’d work out together. (In those days, we called it exercise.) It was summertime, we planned to sunbathe in our two-piece swimsuits, and a sudden interest in boys dictated we look our best.VintageAdWe were fourteen or fifteen, easily impressed by the silly advertisements in newspapers. No doubt, we were conscious of ads like the one above. How Do You Look In Your Bathing Suit? We wanted to look good.

So we did what people usually do … we took our measurements, height and weight, and recorded them on a chart. The chart was tacked to a wall in my friend’s basement where we exercised. Everyday, we recorded how many sit-ups and jumping jacks and other calisthenics we did as well as noting changes in our weight. We were consistent with the routine for several weeks. Continue reading “Refuse To Be A Victim”

Exult In Monotony

Children (and grandchildren) are such great fun! When we’re at play with them, they have a way of wringing every possible measure of delight from whatever activity has captured their attention at the moment.children_at_play Push a child on a swing, push him or her high, high, and higher! You’re bound to hear the child squeal, “Again! Do it again!Ring around the rosy, all fall down and inevitably, the activity must be repeated. (They scramble quickly to their feet for another round.) It’s rare for any child to lose interest before the adult begs off from the tedium.

I’ve heard my young grandson tell me from time to time, “I’m bored.” This high-energy kid loves to be active and doing-doing-doing things non-stop. The idea of a child being bored amuses me. (I wonder if boredom is simply a modern invention.) What my grandson is really telling me … he needs direction. As I guide him to a new activity, he’s immediately distracted by it and moves forward quickly to entertain himself. Continue reading “Exult In Monotony”

Home.Edu

Chances are good that sometime in the last week you’ve interacted with at least one adult (perhaps more than one) who was educated at home. People in the workplace, teachers and professors, business owners … don’t be surprised to find some of them are products of home education.home-schooling-header-copyWhile schooling within the home and family has been a common practice for centuries, states began adopting compulsory attendance laws about 1852, ceding broader oversight of education to towns and local governments. Though precise figures are hard to nail down, as many as 2.2 million children are currently being taught in the home.

From about the 1970s (give or take), the home school movement has grown. That being the case, the earliest home schoolers are now in their early to mid-40s. Yes, there were home educated students before 1970. In fact, HuffPo provides a 2013 short article and pictorial of eighteen successful people who received their education at home. Long-time observers of home schooling could probably add to that list. Continue reading “Home.Edu”

Imperfect Family-hood

Children are known for acting foolishly. Teenagers are notorious offenders, sometimes showing reckless regard or on other occasions failing to weigh the risks. As one example, we’ve all read the tales of teens driving and texting. Not every teen ends up slamming into a tree because of his or her poor judgment, but some do. (The statistics are sufficiently troubling.) Because children (especially teens) believe they’re invincible, they rarely spend time considering possible unintended consequences.

Since children don’t always have the maturity necessary to make good decisions, we give them the benefit of the doubt. When a child has a run-in with the law, his or her records are usually sealed and sometimes expunged after a certain period of time. Today, I’ve mused several times how different the world would look if the records of all juvenile lawbreakers were unsealed and open to public scrutiny. The media frenzy surrounding Josh Duggar’s admission of “inexcusable” behavior in his early teens is a case in point. Continue reading “Imperfect Family-hood”

Better To Have A Millstone

In other countries around the world, “marriage” often looks remarkably different than the celebrations we have in America. In recent days, reports from the Middle East (specifically countries where ISIS continues to gain more ground) have revealed even prepubescent girls are being married off to adult men. Other girls are being sold into sexual slavery. Either way, the situation is dire.6.00658986000024

According to Zainab Bangura, a special representative to the UN general secretary, facts on the ground reveal the disturbing and inhumane treatment of young girls who are stripped naked, exposed to “virginity tests,” and many of them are sent to “slave auctions” after their villages have been attacked, and they’ve been subjected to the “killing their husbands, fathers and brothers.” Bangura speaks of one girl who was traded off 22 times to different men. Other girls are exposed to repeated rapes and subsequent surgeries to “restore” their virginity. Continue reading “Better To Have A Millstone”