Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson

          The news is Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson. I don’t want to minimize or trivialize the seriousness of what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri. But I must ask: Is not every person who is shot, stabbed, or killed as important and as worthy as Michael Brown? Is not every Christian who is murdered in Syria, Iraq, Iran, and all the other places as worthy? What is there that makes this terrible death the trigger for so much anger, violence, and demonstration? What needs are met through the name-calling, the tear gas, the looting, the demand to convict, even kill the policeman?

          The demands for justice often seem to be weighted down with one-sided arguments. The scale seems to be loaded in one direction or the other before all the facts are known. Few seem to care if there is a heavy finger on one side of the scale, a scale laden with biases and assumptions, true and false. Disregard for important information is rampant. For instance, there is anger over the release of the tape of the robbery that happened just prior to the shooting. Why? Why would any thinking person believe that the robbery and the shooting are unrelated when the same person is involved in both? I don’t know whether or not the policeman knew of the robbery, but I do know that the robber did. I do know that prior happenings in any circumstance, particularly illegal ones, will affect subsequent actions and results. Psychologically very few people can put things in such neat boxes in their mind that one does not affect the other.

          Facts seem to be unimportant, even when they appear as images in a video, images that are the same for all eyes. It is not the eyes of different people reporting what they think they saw. This is a scene that can be played over and over to check on the details.

          The political smell of the event is so overpowering that it blocks the fragrance of truth. Justice is the cry. Justice seems to be in the political need of the holders of the signs or the; screaming voice of Sharpton and others. When the governor of the state demands justice for some in the incident and for prosecution before investigation, it is very sad. Votes seem to trump many things including the desire for pursuit of justice for all involved, no matter the color, race, gender, ethnicity or any factor. Mr. Attorney General: What is your definition of justice? Looters and burglars and violent agitators: What is your definition of justice? Or do you care?

          I care about the people in Ferguson–all the people in Ferguson. Justice lies in jobs, equal opportunity, better schools, improved family services, fewer entitlements, and more self-respect and individual responsibility. Justice lies in the local institutions that give more hand-ups than hand-outs. And justice lies in the Christian principles on which this country was founded. I know it is in Ferguson. I see it in the streets in the people who are holding back those who would do harm to harmony they seek, love they know for each other, and in the hearts of those who lave pride enough in their community to clean up the streets every morning; after the nights of protests.

          Go Ferguson, Go. Show the rest of us that we have come a long way, and the way lies in the teachings of Martin Later King, Jr. and those who really understood justice and worked for it. It does not lie in the minds of those who would use your tragedy to quell the hate in their hearts, the disdain they have for their neighbors and their country to promote violence, or those who try to get your votes with their smooth rhetoric. Justice lies in our hearts and in our courts and tenets of the great documents that our Founders wrote and gave to us.

          Go Ferguson, Go. Go Ferguson, Go. And may God bless your efforts to take back your lives as you seek the real justice that you all deserve. That’s what will bring justice to the grieving Brown family, too.

Move In–First Day at College

          We had a little family gathering for my granddaughter last night to wish her well as she departs for college, the University of Southern California. It was also a celebration of her birthday that occurs in early in September. This will be the first one not celebrated at home. Lots of bittersweet moments in our evening. Many firsts and many memories. In a couple of days, she and her parents and little sister will load the car with all she will try to fit into her dorm room. The adventure begins with that trek to “move in.”

          Moving in. How many times have I experienced that event through the years as newly anointed college freshman experience their “move in”? The exuberance is evident. These young people have worked long and hard to get to this point. Their parents have looked forward to this day. And here they are, moving in to experience a totally new and exciting time in their lives. As each article is placed in the room, a little of the familiar adorns the new home. And the room becomes a new home away from home. 

          My freshman “move in” was somewhat different; I spent my freshman year in a private home working for my room and board. My sophomore year I lived in a one-room apartment just off campus. But I do remember vividly my entrance to dorm life in my junior year. My mother, sister and her two little ones drove me to the campus with my meager belongings and I “moved in.” Our car was not crowded with the five passengers and all my belongings. Other cars were loaded and some families even had two cars full of stuff. I had no trouble finding space for my things; my closet had plenty of room. But I watched with curiosity as so many freshman girls were starting their college career bemoaning the fact that they had so little room to accommodate all of their things. Many parents walked out with things that just wouldn’t fit.

          But over the years, the scene of “move in” has been pretty much standard. Eager parents and students pull up to the dormitories on the thousands of college campuses and eagerly deposit their precious cargoes, their children. As they carry load after load of belongings to the designated dorm room, nostalgia sets in. Their are hugs and tears, joys and fears, and years of memories float through the mind. Memories of the birthdays, the happy vacations, the greatness of watching their child become the wonderful young person they now are ”moving in.” They will watch with pride and joy as they watch the new home being assembled. 

          I have watched this scene many times. For each family, it is different, and yet when you view the cars pull up, or even trucks with the bikes on top if the student is lucky enough to have one, it looks much the same. Perhaps I saw this more times and more clearly when I was Dean of Women at the University of California at Riverside. Always different, yet always the same. It’s a study in diversity, energy, economic status, maturity, parental love and authority, joy, pride,  independence, dependence,  and so much more. But most of all, for the young people it is “moving in” and moving on, entry into a new environment of infinite ;choice. They have a chance to grow, a chance to take advantage of the opportunities all around them, and a chance to place many new bricks on their very own yellow brick road. They have a choice about that road. It can lead to their field of dreams. Oh, so many choices they will have the opportunity to make.

And my beautiful granddaughter will be in that procession of vehicles with the bikes on top. God bless you, Hailey as you continue on your yellow brick road to become all you were created to be. You have earned all the opportunities a great university offers.   

          Go Trojans. Now I’ll have to get a USC shirt and learn their fight song. It won’t be easy when the Trojans play UCLA.



What’s Wrong with This Picture?


         It took a few days to really fathom the picture of illegal immigrants protesting in front of the White House. How could that possibly be taking place in front of the house of the person who is charged with “carefully executing the laws of the land”? What messages have these protesters heard  or what have they witnessed that would give them the brazen-nakedness to stand at the gates of Our House and demand whatever they were demanding? How could those responsible for the safety of the White House know the motives?

           I was stunned when I saw the happening, but now am perplexed and sad. Living in California for the last 30 plus years has given me a border-state understanding of some of the problems of illegal immigration. I also have witnessed many success stories of hard-working folks who love their families and want for them what I want for mine. I have served on a school board for the last eighteen years, and I know the issues first hand experienced in our schools. I have seen and written about the rampant demise of patriotism among American citizens. I have witnessed the apologetic nature of so many Americans about our great country.

         There seems to be less and less understanding about our exceptionalism–how our founding came about and what it means to the world. I have watched our tolerance turned against us; it is seen as weakness and a point of entry into our national psyche to gain control, to force us to be more and more tolerant toward other religions and cultures. But I see little reciprocity. Rather I see our very reason for becoming a nation, religious freedom, turned on its heels. Our Christian heritage is denied and denigrated while other cultures and religions are celebrated because “we are a tolerant, understanding nation.”

          Has our tolerance reached a point where we can watch protests of illegals, no matter from what country, outside the White House and not do anything to uphold our laws? Have we become so indoctrinated by our educational system that we are afraid to uphold our laws? Have political expedience and desire for political power become so obscene that our “professional legislators” can look on and not have a protest of their own? Is justice really blind?  Can the law see only some illegal actions? Why was there not one arrest?

         Of course, you say. How naive can you be? It would be political suicide to arrest these folks. It would show an ugly side of America, this America that has cradled the huddled masses. It would create a scene that is not conducive to the American image of tolerance and human rights. Wow. What rights? The rights of an American Citizen? I am naive enough to think there is something wrong with that picture–blatantly illegal folks demanding the rights that my ancestors fought and died to give to me. The rights that my Founders gave everything to implement and preserve for the republic they proudly birthed. I am ever grateful and proud of my American citizenship. I cannot change the birthplace of those who stood in front of the White House.

         No, I am not so naive that I don’t know that another group of protesters might have other plans. But one thing for sure: that picture haunts me. I think there was something wrong with that picture that I witnessed a few days ago in front of the People’s House. 

         My country, the nation I love, is either magnificent or stupid. Where else in the world could such an event occur?