Book Review message for our times

In today’s NYT Book Review, James Goodman, a Rutgers University professor, reviews Steven Levingston’s Kennedy and King: the President, the Pastor, and the Battle Over Civil Rights. Goodman ends his review with this paragraph:

Kennedy and King will most likely leave readers thinking that what is needed today is not more leaders, a few men and women shaping our destiny, but more followers.  What is needed are ordinary people: alert, informed, engaged, mobilized, idealistic but not naive, critical but not hopeless, confident about who they are and what they want but able and inclined to work with all sorts of others, exercising rights won at enormous cost, starting with the right to vote.  What is needed, in short, are more citizens, prepared to lead our leaders toward a more promising land.”

I am inclined to agree.  I wish I could wave a magic wand and say “Let it be so.”

Morning after the U.S. Elections

November 8, 2016

As a woman who supported Hillary Clinton’s run for the White House, I offer four positive reflections on what this means, especially in Texas:

1)  Due largely to decades of better resources, (or centuries, depending on how historically you look at it) Republican-branded public servants here have frequently outpaced their Democratic colleagues in ready competence, speedy and complete execution of tasks, boldness, and something that can look like nuance. I began to think about this phenomenon decades ago as I participated in party politics and took positions of public service.  I take heart in the thought that when it comes to daily problem-solving, the qualities of collective competence, habits of efficiency, and core confidence can go a long way toward satisfactory results and rough justice (justice delayed is justice denied, after all).

2) The progress that we have made in our country in the 21st century has been wonderful. When I look at my younger colleagues, my children, grandchildren, grand-nephews and nieces,and my students, I take heart. If we encourage these young people, they will lead the way to continued thoughtful progress.  This enormous country cannot move very fast; it’s like trying to turn the world’s largest ocean liner on a dime. Huge groups of stakeholders from all over the political spectrum in the U.S. have not been in a comfort zone as citizens, and our country is based on consensus. Consensus-building is not fast or easy in a country of this size and diversity. May this pause in progressive change (if it indeed proves to be a pause) give every citizen and every group time to reflect thoughtfully.

3) This election cycle brought in new voters and new participants in the governance of a representative democracy. It has helped a younger and older generation to learn from each other. It taught younger women that it’s not unreasonable to dream of being President – not foolish, laughable, or unspeakable. It showed gray heads that perhaps we can count on the younger groups to “show up” in the election process, and to dream big. Whether it was a dream of a woman President, a populist President, or a President with zero resume for public service, it showed everyone that we can still dream big and make the dreams realistic.

4) Texas Supreme Court Justice and now U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett taught me a long time ago that whether the results are personally pleasing to us, we must always trust “the people” of our country. (Something along the lines of “you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”) The people have spoken in record numbers this election season, and I hear Lloyd’s counsel once again. And I’m listening and reflecting on that voice. I know that Lloyd will keep working for progress in healthcare, protection for the young and the elderly, judicial fairness, fiscal responsibility, U.S. honor and strength, and prosperity for all Texans just as he has always done. I will take that approach as my standard and example.

Simple things

Pushing this rotary blade mower today – almost done with 2 out of 4 large yards (over an acre). This is my second day of experimenting with this activity. My thoughts below the visual evidence.

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What if more people around the world viewed environmentally responsible habits as fun? Healthy? Rewarding? Pleasurable?

I am older and not in great health, presently. In fact, I am in physical therapy twice a week and on a medical leave of absence from my university. But this, this activity: balance is not an issue because I’m holding a wide, sturdy bar similar to a walker; risk of harm is low because there is no power motor involved; weight is distributed evenly. Note the full foot and ankle brace showing on right ankle. Whenever I feel tired, I slow down or stop and rest. The activity will take several sessions spread out over several days.  It was definitely aerobic which is challenging for me to find (can’t run, can’t pound the foot/ankle, can’t bicycle due to balance handicap, too cold out to swim).

This experience was filled with pleasure and satisfaction. I felt empowered. The rotary blades did a good job.  Worked off some of the anxiety of the news from Brussels. I was not disturbing my neighbors and community with the noise of small engines, nor was I polluting the air. Mild muscle strengthening. Husband and dog entertained. Form and posture could be worked out, modified, tested through the marching up and down the grounds. A good stretch.  Happily wearing my dorky clothes. Wind blowing the blousy blouse.

Lean in, Pat; lean in!