Do you know what I discovered since I’ve been gone? First of all, I’ve been gone from blogging a very, very long time. I really didn’t mean to step away that long, but Baby-girl got married and I decided that being fully present and involved in this wondrous event of my child’s life was my primary duty as a mother. The sorrows and chaos of this world could wait a month or two while I got to revel in one of two major joys humans are afforded on this planet: marriages and the birth of children (hopefully the second part of the equation will come soon for the newlyweds—“Your mother is not getting any younger, Baby-girl!”).
It was such a glorious time. Full of love and grace. Tons of laughter and warm camaraderie. People of different races, religions, and sexual orientations wishing another beautiful interracial couple a happy and fulfilling life. Weather was a perfect 75 degrees, no rain, no bugs, and no Trump. It felt as if Jesus were in our midst—so much loving, so much acceptance, so much tender caring. For 72 hours at this destination wedding on a magnificent island in the U.S. of A, Trump’s name and destructive influence on our country and its people were never mentioned or thought about. If there were some of his hardcore supporters among the wedding guests, they didn’t reveal themselves.
So now I am home—back in the shit storm that is Trumplandia. Since I’ve been gone, things seem to have gotten so much worse both nationally and locally. I came out of my wedding bubble to the man in the White House dealing with more demons whispering in his ear than he had before I entered the wedding euphoria. And the lying…oh, my God, his lying has increased exponentially.
Yet, Trump’s supporters still cling to his every word—especially his Right Wing Evangelical supporters which still has me in a state of shock (Jesus, are you watching this?). The more Trump lies (7 – 10 times a day at the last calculation), the more his supporters worship him. The more his racism shows, the more they cheer him on and wrap themselves in things like the Confederate flag, White Supremacy, conspiracy websites, and Fox News. I saw a poll when I returned that said 91% turn to the President for accurate information rather than their families or legitimate news organizations. A friend just told me the other day that in a couple of prayer groups she attended, some of the members who are Trump supporters refused to pray for the border children who are still separated from their parents, may never be returned to their parents, and who are reportedly some are being abused by their caretakers. (And you ask me why I left the Church?) Then I learned about some rabid Trump supporters in the vicinity (many of them churchgoers) who were trying to run roughshod over the rest of their community by hoisting the Confederate flag and celebrating its “glory” no matter who their actions hurt or terrorized. All I could think was which came first? Did Trump and his demon ways awaken these horrid people from the swamp or did these horrid people awaken Trump?
In the meantime, while all these agonizing thoughts were running through my head, it came to my attention that it was time for my annual physical. Oh shit! How did this come upon me so soon? I had planned to lose those 20 pounds from the last time I saw my doctor six months ago. In fact, I told him—swore on my mother’s grave—he wouldn’t have to worry about me shedding them because I had the wedding as an incentive. I was not going to be a fat mother-of-the-bride—no siree! But, instead, I had gained five more pounds!
Can I confess something? I hate going to the doctor because I never get all A’s, and for a perfectionist, that is a real pain in the ass. It’s like being called to the principal’s office, being stopped by a White policeman when you’re driving while Black, and your father catching you sneaking back into the house after curfew—all at once. I got a chance to review the lab results before the appointment, and they didn’t make me feel any better. I’ve just turned 70 and every number counts. Everything was elevated: my weight, my cholesterol, my A1C, and my blood pressure. I just knew my doctor was going to be pissed at me and fire me as his patient. I’ve been fired as a patient before because I take no grief from doctors (that’s another blog, entirely). Instead, what he did do, shocked me so much, you could have knocked me over with a feather…
DOC. H: Morning, Mrs. Tomczyk. How’s everything?
TRUCULANT ME: Not great, as you can see. First of all, why do you and every doctor I’ve ever been to make me weigh in before the nurse takes my blood pressure? Of course it’s going to be 160/90. Your lyin’ scale just gave me the shock of my life! And why is the scale always out in a public space? I took off so many clothes to get a more accurate read of my weight that some old man put his hands over his eyes, started to scream, and fled the building, leaving his cell phone and his cane behind because he was so horrified by my Stormy Daniels’ striptease.
DOC. H: Now, Mrs. Tomczyk, we’ve been over this before. Knowing what you weigh at the beginning of our session helps me figure out what you need as a patient. Wouldn’t you prefer a little embarrassment in order to get a more accurate diagnosis?
PETULANT ME: Hell to the no!
DOC. H: [Sigh] Let’s see what we have here. Hum, all your numbers are elevated. You were doing so well six months ago. What happened?
WHINING ME: What happened? WHAT HAPPENED? Donald Trump happened! His mania is spreading all across the land, or at least it is giving “permission” for the crazies to come out of the sewers. The Governor of Virginia has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville because it is the one year anniversary since the murder of Heather Heyer by Confederate sympathizers and Neo-Nazi White Supremacists, and he doesn’t want a repeat of last year. Virginia also has a man running to become one of its senators (Corey Stewart) who is a “Lost Cause” trumpeter who adulates the likes of Nathan Bedford Forrest and calls himself a rebel sounding the clarion call for the keeping of Confederate statues in place and unfurling the Confederate flag here, there, and everywhere because…you guessed it: He says, “it’s my heritage.” What the hell? This dude grew up in Minnesota, for Pete’s sake!
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard about Northerners goose-stepping behind Nathan Bedford Forrest (slave trader, creator of the KKK, mass murderer of surrendered Negro troops, and the grand wizard of the KKK) and worshiping his image. They have all been Trump supporters, of course. Their bottom line can only be in the name of White Supremacy. What if this happens where I live? I’d have to fight to expose this lie, of course. I would not let my community wake up awash in Confederate flags while the African-Americans started feeling like second-class citizens in their own homes. The fear of this keeps me awake at night.
I know you won’t believe me, but I don’t break my diet (well, not often), and I exercise like crazy. Admittedly, I don’t get much sleep with all that is going on and all that I worry about. But I can’t stand by and let the lies of our current President seep into the local soil where I live. I can feel the zombie racism creeping toward me and mine. I WILL FIGHT THIS EVIL WHERE IT SPROUTS. I WILL ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO FIGHT IT. I WILL NOT SURRENDER TO TURNING THE CLOCK “BACK TO THE CONFEDERACY!”
DOC. H: All right, General Grant. I hear you, and, believe it or not, as a White man, I get it. I can’t tell you how many of my patients have come to me in tears because of what is happening in our country. Grown White men sobbing because of the racism they see happening to people of color. As one very lovely Italian man in his seventies told me, he thought we had won the war against racism long ago, and what he sees now is breaking his heart. Not only do I understand what you’re saying, but I’m going to say something that will probably shock you. Your numbers are elevated not because of how you eat or exercise but because of the inordinate stress you are suffering from events happening to you on a national and local level that seem beyond your control. The stress is causing an increase of cortisol in your system, and it wouldn’t matter how little you ate or how much you exercised, you still wouldn’t lose weight. And because you’re gaining weight as a result of the stress, all of your other numbers are increasing.
SUSPICIOUS ME: Does that mean you’re going to up my meds? You know those are fighting words to me, Doc. I refuse to become one of those old people on too many drugs who can’t remember their names or what day it is. I have to take care of myself the natural way as long as I can through exercise and diet.
DOC. H: No pills, I promise. But here’s your new prescription:
#1. You must fight this evil disguised in the Confederate flag! You must expose this evil! You must lead against this evil wherever it washes up on your shore of influence. You can’t fight everything everywhere, but you can fight what is within your jurisdiction, your writing arena, and your voting power. It is for this day, this place, and this time that you were called to be. Don’t shrink back from the fight. Write about it. Protest it. Stand! We need people like you, more than ever.
#2. However, don’t let the fight kill you. You’ve got to get away from here—from the battlefield—if you hope to survive.
#3. To keep you from having a heart attack or a stroke, I suggest the following:
- Wage war where and when you can, and then pull back for a respite—on a daily basis
- Watch or read the news, but only for an hour (bad news can wait); organize your battle plans, but only for a portion of the day, then…
- Spend the rest of day in your garden, reading, engaging with your husband, spending time with good friends, enjoying your children, practicing your hobbies, thinking about all that is lovely in the world. Be fully present! What’s that Bible verse I learned as a kid? “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8).
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep
- Walk 10,000 steps a day—everyday! Give that Fitbit a run for its money. Keep that body moving, Lady!
INCREDULOUS ME: What? I think you’re gonna make me cry, Doc. A doctor who understands his patient. A medical person who gets my struggles. A physician who doesn’t think I’m lying about not eating fried chicken and chocolate bon-bons? Who knew there was such a creature? I could just kiss you!
DOC. H: [Smiles] See you in three months. Oh, and Mrs. Tomczyk—one more thing. Above all else—be civil. Among the many things the man in the White House has destroyed is civility. You can’t win this war without civility. What’s that Michelle Obama maxim: “When they go low, we go high!”
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES ABOUT THE CONFEDERATE FLAG AND CIVILITY
“The Confederate Battle Flag was the emblem of Jim Crow defiance to the civil rights movement, of the Dixiecrat opposition to integration, and of the domestic terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens’ Councils of our all too recent, all too awful history. White Christians ought to think about what that flag says to our African-American brothers and sisters in Christ, especially in the aftermath of yet another act of white supremacist terrorism against them.”— Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission who called for Christians in the South to forsake their affinity for the Confederate flag after the Charleston massacre of Black Christians
“I believe that our president has fostered a culture and climate that has allowed for what was there and has been there for years to bubble up. It has empowered people in a horrific way. Absolutely. I don’t think there’s any question about it.”—Rev. John Gray, pastor of Relentless Church in Greenville, S.C
“Civility is not not saying negative or harsh things. It is not the absence of critical analysis. It is the manner in which we are sharing this territorial freedom of political discussion. If our discourse is yelled and screamed and interrupted and patronized, that’s uncivil.”—Richard Dreyfuss
“Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.”― Stephen R. Covey
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