Open Letter

I have a facebook friend who posts things that blows my mind.  She is someone I used to know in “real” life.  I have not seen her in years. 

We were work friends at Delphi Packard.  Besides being co-workers, we were both artists, so we had other things in common.  She did pottery, owned her own kiln, and I know she also painted as she had a painting of a nude rejected by a local gallery when they censored her work. 

At Delphi, we were both in skilled trades, pulling union wages as Journeymen Tool & Die Makers, positions neither one of us would have been “allowed” to persue if it were not for affirmative action. 

SIDE NOTE:  That’s “allowed” as in saying there was never any carved in stone rules saying that women were not allowed, but before affirmative action laws, the opportunities for women to get hired on at a machine shop must less land a skilled trades apprenticeship were extremely rare, if at all.  My first attempt to get hired in a shop was in 1978.  Most places told me flat out no… the foreman at one shop told me that he could not hire me because they did not have the facilities to hire women.  The lack of a toilet designated for females prevented my employment.   I began applying for Delphi’s apprenticeship program in 1991.  Or rather Packard Electric as they didn’t spin off from GM until years later.  I hired on as an apprentice for the class of 1998, so do the math.  A full 20 years passed before I got a chance to become a Tool & Die Maker.  I don’t know all of her story… she hired in before I did, was already a Journeyman, but if it wasn’t for affirmative action, neither one of us would have had the opportunity to learn the trade, nor earn those top dollar union wages.

I was reading her posts on facebook this week, mostly shares with a Tea Party spin.  I have wondered for some time what the hell happened to her.  How did she get sucked into all that? 

Posts included anti-union, anti-this, and anti-that, slamming poor people and all sorts of crap.  The most disturbing facebook share was an altered photograph of our President dressed to look like a hick sharecropper or something with a message saying, “if you voted for this person, you owe the rest of us an apology.”  

Like if agree?  Absolutely not.  It struck me as being blatently racist, which essientially just shows the true colors of people who pass such things around. 

I am thinking about de-friending her, if she doesn’t read this and de-friend me first, but it so bothers me that she has become this Tea Party activist person.   I wonder if something happened to her, how she got drawn in so deeply into the hateful underworld of the ultra conservative fringe. 

Now I don’t mind friends having difference of opinion when it comes to politics or whatever, variety is the spice of life, it makes for interesting discussions.  I actually like to hear opposing opinions, to see things from various perspectives other than my own. But this constant echo of hate circulating on social media has a darkness to it that bothers me something fierce.  It bothers me even more when it is spun off as the “Christian” position, as it is definately does NOT come off as being very Christ-like.  Would Jesus drug test the poor before feeding them?  Deny a child medical care?  Call the widow’s pence an entitlement?  Et cetera.  All the biased hate based propaganda is just too much.  I don’t want to see it anymore. 

Still, it bothers me.  It saddens me. 

Did she always harbor prejudice towards minorities?  A hatred for the poor or disenfranchised American people?  Did she secretly resent the union while reaping the benefits of unionization? 

So many questions… did I ever know her at all?

What good does writing this do? 

Not a thing.  All I am doing is thinking out loud on virtual paper trying to understand things that are impossible to comprehend.   If she reads this, she is free to respond via her method of choice.  I live by the rule:  don’t say anything behind anyone’s back that you are not willing to say to their face.  If our paths should cross, I would ask her what happened, tell her that I don’t understand.  I would ask her if she fully embraces everything she posts, if her activism has become her life. 

A tag line running across the screen on the morning news today said someone compared the Tea Party to the KKK.  A quick google (since I didn’t catch the name) tells me it was a congressman from Florida who often says controversial things.  He used an image of a burning cross labeled to spell out “Tea Party” in a fundraising email sparking an outcry for being insensitive to people who were terrorized by that hate group.  So he went a little overboard, but in light of things shared by members of the Tea Party on social media, I can see the simularities. 

What is the undercurrent common to most hate groups?  FEAR.  Fear of the unknown, fear of people who look or talk or think in ways different than they do, fear of anything or everything. 

I think the Tea Party attracts people who are scared, then feeds the fear with propaganda wrapped up in a cloak of Christianity.  But, where is the Psalms 23? 

Life is dangerous.  We don’t live in a pollyanna world of wine and roses.  I am all too aware of rising crime rates and economic uncertainty, a million other things that can make people scared.  But we are offered a choice:  choose to walk in faith, not live in fear. 

Ropes (the long poem)

There is a line in the sand I cannot cross,
Drawn so long ago.
There’s a million fears I cannot touch,
Steeped in crimson woe.

My fortress became a prison,
I hold the only key.
The door stands wide open,
But I have fears controlling me.

Facing the demons,
The haunt of the past,
The night of no endings,
The dawn has been cast.
Rumbles of thunder,
A crackle, a flash,
Goblins are thirsty,
I hear teeth gnash.
I cannot stay here,
The wall’s crumbling fast,
The only way out
Is not a quick dash.
The winds are a howling,
Crude branches do thrash,
The road is ablaze,
Atop shards of glass.
It’s a walk through fire,
How could I last?
Oh God, can you hear me?
I need a free pass.

“Remember the ropes?”
Huh?  What ropes?  Oh….

My mind wanders back
To a time of dispair,
When winds of change
Raged tornatic warfare.

Oh… wait a minute.
Did God just speak to me?
A stray thought?  Birdie whisper?
Call it what it be.

I saw the ropes
No one else could see,
Draped across aisles
In front of me.
Call it neurosis,
A temp psychosis,
Past maximum stress
What else could it be?
I studied the shadows,
Light patterns on beams,
But found no logic
To explain what it means.
So I took it as a sign,
I took it as a warning,
They were there some days,
But not every morning.
I saw thick cords,
Thought of ships at sea
When ropes crisscrossed
In front of me.

Illusions continued
Till someone hung a noose
And I deflied work rules
To go cut it loose?
Did they write me up?
No, bosses let it snooze.
But the old walrus saw
And spread the news around,
Then the hanger wandered in,
Thanked me for taking down
His alternative exit plan
From a company leaving town.

I quit seeing ropes
Crossed in front of me
After hacking down the rope
Everyone else can see.

We talked of despirations,
We were all biding time,
Of accidental suicides,
And clarity of mind.

Now I may be crazy,
Just a little out of joint.
That is a true story,
But not quite the point.

The thing about ropes:
They looked as real as can be,
But when I approached,
They vanished in front of me.

Remembering the ropes
Revealed the secret I need,
My fears are delusions
And faith is the key.

There’s a line in the sand that I must cross,
Drawn so long ago.
There’s a million fears that I must face,
Steeped in crimson woe.

N. ©2013