Tag Archives: women’s rights

It’s Not Easy Being Green

23 Feb



It’s Not Easy Being Green

L. Stewart Marsden

Control v. the lack of control is a conflict I’ve lived with for most of my life. It’s at the heart of AA’s mantra — and gaining the wisdom to know the difference is, in my experience, a life-long pursuit. In retrospect, I’ve been far more foolish than wise.

I’m hesitant to write these thoughts, as inevitably someone will point out there are no excuses for some/many of what I struggle with. The good news — at least to me — is that I do struggle with them. In a world that seems to have become black and white on so many issues, I’m in that fifty shades of gray area, and I’m not talking about the book and its focus. 

What I absolutely cannot and did not control:

  1. When and where I was born;
  2. Who comprised my family;
  3. What level of social status I was born into;
  4. What level of income my family had;
  5. What my level of innate intelligence was;
  6. What my skill tendencies and talents were/are;
  7. When and how I will die;
  8. What levels of pain those I love will go through, and whether or not they will endure them;
  9. Who I am attracted to;
  10. What tragedies will impact my life.

No doubt there are more, but the short list should suffice.

It has taken me these many years (I’m approaching seven decades on this earth) to realize and accept the responsibility that all of the above are not excuses, and that I have either controlled or abdicated control over the effects of those things over which I had no control. In other words, allowed the uncontrollable to control me. It’s the laissez-faire tendency that has been a challenge to overcome. The “well, that’s just who I am” attitude of helpless resolution.

I’m currently watching (binging, really) the Netflix series, “Grace & Frankie.” To mark just how far and to what extent American culture has changed, the show would never have been produced back in the early days of television. That’s not what goes through my head as I watch it, though. What goes through my head are the various elements of the series that I struggle with. I’m supposed to simply be and let be, right? And if I am uncomfortable about various scenarios of the show, that’s an indication there’s something wrong with me, right?

I won’t spoil the series for you with detail, other than the basic plot is two male partners in a law firm announce to their respective wives they are gay, and are divorcing their wives so that the men can marry each other. Archie Bunker would have dropped dead. I’ve never been an Archie Bunker type, but found myself not understanding it, either. 

What does that make me, then? Homophobic? I probably am. And I could probably point to the era into which I was born as an excuse, or the implied revulsion of the Bible over people who act out their same-gender sexual orientations. Or the myriad of conclusions the rigidly straight world makes as an explanation to one recurring question, “Why did God make me this way?” I won’t belabor the responses, which are just as fantastic as dogmatic believers explaining how the world was created in six days. That particular “sin” has found its way to the top of the charts, and has remained so in the religious minds of many.

Still, I admit to being bothered by it. So I’m left with what can I control about this issue? My mouth, for one. Not out of fear of being labeled myself, but making sure whatever I say and however I react is carefully measured for its impact. 

My children are more tolerant of far more than I. I’m not sure that means they are better people than I am — whatever that means — but they are certainly more understanding. They have lived with a variety of change that really wasn’t change for them. 

I grew up when the south was segregated. Separate, but equal, ran the dogma. Bathrooms. Movie theaters. Schools. Water fountains. And my parents hired black women to do various necessary things about the house — even though my mother didn’t work outside the house. Not every white family had maids or people to do yard work. But we did. How do I reconcile that past with what is now the norm? It clearly falls under the controllable part of my life. I wasn’t born a racist. As Rogers and Hammerstein clarified in South Pacific, “You’ve got to be carefully taught.” But I have worked sincerely on that aspect of my life in a variety of ways, yet, I suppose the term racist does apply to me at some levels. 

I grew up when “gay” didn’t refer to someone who preferred to sexually and emotionally connect with members of their own gender. Or when the other parts of LGBT where code words, and not political referendums.

I grew up when sex was not explicit — either in attire or behavior — on the scale it is today. When one-night-stands were not necessarily planned, and when females were more coy than aggressive in relationships. When married TV couples slept in single beds separated by a lamp table.

Grace & Frankie takes shots at many of these, including guns (another sacred cow). That’s probably the only controversial issue I have settled for myself: I don’t and probably won’t ever own one. It’s your right, however. What I cannot understand is how we’ve gotten to the place nearly all school children from kindergarten up have to be drilled in safety procedures to protect them from someone with a gun.

It’s a difficult transition from the world I grew up in to the world in which we now live. My pathway has been along lines that are less absolute. I wouldn’t have either thought of or predicted that when I was sixteen. But when I was eighteen? As I’ve written before, the convergence of civil rights, women’s rights, and Vietnam was the point 9 earthquake that seemed to shake things up forever. Of course, these are not excuses either.

I’ve often looked back to wistfully remember “the good old days.” I realize they weren’t good for everyone; that the agonizingly slow change for the better for them has not been as easy for me and others like me as well. We had to either change as well — or dig in. Many chose to dig in. Others of us have elected to change within. Either choice has its results and/or consequences. Neither is easy.

It’s not easy being green, said someone very wise.

The Clocks Are Ticking

20 Apr

The Clocks Are Ticking
by L. Stewart Marsden

There’s a clock
that keeps stock
of the National Debt,
Seventeen trillion so far
and counting;

There’s a clock
keeping stock
of those fallen to cancer,
nearly two million this year
and mounting.

And deaths
from drunk driving?
Over 3,000’s the toll.
A significant number:
teens’n alcohol.

One ticking
the deaths from tobacco
every six seconds one gasps,
More than 40 mil smokers since this century began
have finally breathed out their last.

Every stat that exists
is measured like this
tick-tock, some more dire than others,
As the hands circumspect, ignored, I suspect
We’re too busy to see or be bothered.

But there’s a clock
that is keeping stock
of the loss of a national treasure
and the total sums there really do scare
me and others well beyond measure.

I believe that one day
we’ll be called to repay,
in the presence of all those dear children
whose lives were forfeited when the crimes were committed
and those babies we let slip away.

This is not a politically correct poem and I’m not trying to point fingers. Since 1980, worldwide, more than 1.25 billion abortions have been performed. Didja get that? One point two-five BILLION! It is a staggering statistic! More than a billion lives lost, not to war, not to disease nor starvation, not to catastrophic natural events such as tornadoes, earthquakes or hurricanes. Not to accidental death. The rate, worldwide, is more than one abortion per second. However many seconds it takes you to read this poem and footnote, that’s how many abortions have been performed PLUS about half again more!

The majority of these abortions are due to unwanted pregnancies. There is a simple solution to drastically reduce these numbers: birth control. Birth control may fly in the face of many religions, but, really, what WOULD Jesus do? Then there’s the guy who says “But I want to feel it, Baby!” Then, when baby begins, the guy is content to say, “Well, I didn’t think it would happen.” The operative words here are, “didn’t think.”

But, he will be glad to drop you off at some clinic so he won’t have to “father up.” I can identify. My brain was in my penis for quite some time. When people ask me “How many kids do you have?” I have to answer honestly, “Five that I know of.”

Don’t laugh. This truth is not funny. Bill Cosby does not have a routine about abortion to my knowledge. The popular TV show, “Two and a half  Men” should not be the standard men — or women — aim for.

It’s not a pretty reality. But I’d like you, regardless on your stand on abortion or women’s rights or the sanctity of life, to click here and visit the clock I’ve referenced in the poem above. Take a look at the various data and think about them. That’s all I ask. Just think.