PC: Politely Considerate; A study of two viewpoints

I read two editorials in The Washington Post this morning. One was about the Republican Party, the other about J.K. Rowling. Two diametrically opposed subjects that somehow made me think about the same thing.

In his article, Wake up Republicans. Your party stands for all the wrong things now., Stuart Stevens says Republicans have become a party of white grievance in the midst of a population of diverse “immigrants and multiculturalism” by labeling kindness and compassion with a somehow evil label of “PC”. He’s not wrong. I’ve felt this way myself. Political correctness is not evil. It is thinking of others before shooting your mouth off. But this got me thinking about the many times I’ve been browbeat as “part of the problem” by my fellow liberals. Sometimes I’m not PC enough, evidently, to really be considered a liberal. Which I admit. I’m a fifty-year-old, born-and-raised-in-the-South, white lady. What do you expect?

And still, I try.

In her article, Has J.K. Rowling figured out a way to break our cancel culture?, Megan McArdle muses about the intriguing J.K. Rowling case, in which the hugely successful, Trump-hating, liberal author dared to support a woman who said binary sex is a biological fact that cannot be denied, not because she thought the woman was right, but because Rowling believed the woman had a right to her opinion. And the mob swarmed, according to McArdle, but Rowling has yet to acknowledge any wrongdoing. She has not deleted her tweet, she has not scheduled any conferences with groups who could educate her as to why she was wrong, and she has not apologized. Instead, Rowling is ignoring the would-be mob, letting her reputation stand for itself.

I mean, yeah, but damn. That takes courage.

These two articles got me thinking about what troubles me about left-wing liberals. They’ve taken the whole PC thing to a militant level. If you don’t watch every hand gesture, every word, every joke, every casual remark or tweet, you are “part of the problem.” You must stay well to the left of the white line and tread carefully lest you wander into the middle of the road. Because to those on the far left, there is no common ground. But if all the left stands for is being PC police, then we are in as much danger as the Republican party right now. As Stevens says, “Republicans now partly define their party simply as an alternative to that other party, as in, ‘I’m a Republican because I’m not a Democrat.'”

“You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” —Aaron Tippin

Yet, as McArdle says, “we fret about the opinions of officious strangers, possibly thousands of miles away, who swarm social media like deranged starlings…” In other words, instead of forming our own opinions based on our own beliefs, we let others mandate them for us. McArdle does attribute this behavior to both the left and the right (the left being the offender in the case of Rowling), but in my mind, the left is becoming exceptionally less accepting of other opinions, and that is dangerous. If we are to be the party of acceptance and tolerance, we must learn to accept and tolerate a multitude of ideas without attempting to summarily cancel them.

In the end, if we hear out the opinions of those who disagree with us, we can choose whether or not to accept them into our beliefs. Yes, be polite and considerate—in fact, that is what PC should stand for—to all. Even those who disagree with you. Accept into your own heart what you believe is right. Blow the rest away like unimportant dandelion fluff.

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Yes, I did write that last line so I could use this picture.  Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

Poem: When Justice Falls

ancient burial cemetery creepy

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

I’ve been struggling with my feelings about the impeachment of Donald Trump. Last night, watching the votes rack up and the opposing sides face off, I felt as if I were torn in half. I never wanted this. But since the day I realized Donald Trump would be our president, I knew it was coming. It was a matter of when. With each of his horrific policies and statements, I wished it would come already. When immigrant children were separated from their families at the border to be placed in group “homes” and “facilities” without protection from God only knows what (death and abuse), I prayed for Donald Trump to be impeached. When he pulled our military out and left our Kurdish allies to bleed and die, I prayed for Donald Trump to be impeached. When Donald Trump overturned the military courts and allowed war crimes to go unpunished, I cursed God for not listening.

And now I am confronted by the reality. Donald Trump is impeached. And every Republican stood behind him, defending the indefensible, turning the truth to fit their own version of reality, spitting in the face of what is right. And I know that when he is acquitted in the Senate by his majority, something precious will die. And all I feel is sad.

 

When Justice Falls

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

You’d think I’d be happier, right?

Justice is blind, but Truth lies at her feet.

How can she not see what lies before her?

Come, Justice, set us free from tyranny!

But she can’t hear me above the multitude of lies.

Blind and deafened, she doesn’t see Truth…and stumbles.

 

You’d think I’d be happy, dancing…

But instead I just want to cry blood and rain.

I want to scream, wake up, stop this!

Please, please…open your eyes.

It’s not a dream, not an illusion—it’s real.

What you grind under your feet doesn’t grow back.

 

You’d think I’d be happy to tell you I told you so.

I’m not—in truth I never wanted to be right.

I just knew, inescapably and undeniably, that I was.

Now I sit, bowed and broken and old and tired,

At the graveside of ideals with Truth for company.

We wait together—eventually, Justice will fall beside us.

Poem: Being Monkeys

In this Christmas season, a lot of people are seeing no evil, hearing no evil and definitely speaking no evil. Congrats.

Being Monkeys

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

Turn your back—you didn’t see it.

Close your ears—you didn’t hear.

Cover your mouth—don’t speak out!

It’s no business of yours if we fall.

 

In one thing only we are united today.

Denial of the truth binds us all together.

If we don’t admit our wrongs, our mistakes,

How can they be marks against our history?

 

It’s a dangerous pass we’ve chosen to tread,

A treacherous and awful way to proceed.

Ignoring one story to side with another,

Passing up wisdom in favor of greed.

 

What do we do now, how to fix what’s broken?

In a world with no laws, how can we be safe?

Stay by the fire, ignore the cries of others—

After all, you are blind and deaf…mute, too.

 

Aren’t you lucky? No one expects you to speak.

 

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Stay by your fire.

 

A Poem Thing: Four Columns

Our columns are crumbling and we will all perish. Our nation implodes around us, but no one seems willing to stop it. And so the great Democracy experiment ends at last.

Four Columns

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

We stand in a great hall supported by four huge columns.

 

Truth

Justice

Equality

Honor

 

Colossal in height, enormous in strength, radiant in beauty.

Columns meant to support our roof for eternity.

But those columns have not been cared for.

 

Paint peels with each passing year.

We ding them and pepper them with bullet holes.

Long cracks run from ceiling to floor.

 

I wish I could put my arms around them.

Hold them together by sheer force of will.

Someone ties a flag around one, but it’s a poor bandage.

 

And then there is him. He’s bigger than us. He grasps a hammer in one hand.

He takes aim at Justice, strikes a heavy blow.

Yellow-white hair flies back as he howls.

 

What has Justice done to you, I cry, but my voice is lost.

He turns to Truth and strikes again and again.

One blow can’t bring down the mighty column—but he doesn’t strike just once.

 

Stop, I cry, rushing forward, but held back by the heavy mass of others between us.

I scream at them, pummel them with my tiny fists, spit arrows at them…

No one cares. No one listens, and he turns the hammer on Equality.

 

WE WILL ALL PERISH IF YOU LET HIM CONTINUE!

But they don’t stop him, and I wait for the damage to climax, the roof to collapse.

And when it comes, it is Honor that falls first.

 

It makes sense. Truth, Justice, Equality—all can take a beating from him.

But each blow on one of them also damaged Honor, and it crumbles at last.

It topples the others, too.

No apologies: I write what I write.

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Romance is a window on the reader’s soul, not the writer’s. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It’s a truth for most romance writers, I think. Our friends and family are almost afraid to read our books. As if they might find out something more about us than what they want.

Why don’t you write something else? I have this great idea for a book you could write.

It could be funny.

I could almost laugh.

Why am I amused? The reason is simple. Any good writing lays your soul bare because you do tell secrets about yourself. It’s the only real way to make your writing read true to another person’s soul. The trick is to write it so no one knows what is true and what is fiction. And I can guarantee you, even those who know me best don’t know what’s true and what’s fiction in my books.

I always say I’m never in my books. And it’s true. I’m not a character in my books. But I am in there. I’m in every word and phrase I write. When you hold my book, you are holding a part of my soul. Is it a window onto my everyday wants and desires and loves? No. Like all writing, and especially fiction, my words are filtered through the reader’s experiences and is more likely to reveal something about them than me.

I guess that’s why I say, no apologies. I write what I write. If you  have the courage to read it, that’s great. If not, please understand when I chuckle a little when you suggest I write something different. I love you, but my visceral answer to such a suggestion is an unequivocal “no.”

In other news…

I’m on Book Reviews by Jasmine today promoting Becoming Magic by talking about what I’d do on my day off if I worked in show business in Hollywood. As you might expect, it’s magical!

And on Smashwords and its affiliates, Close Up MagicBook 1 in the Sleight of Hand series, is FREE just in time for the holidays! Read it if you dare!

DNA and our hunt for a more colorful origin story

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Origin stories aren’t always as colorful as we could wish. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Every fan of superheroes knows what an origin story is. Every birthday, we celebrate our origin stories. I tell my kids about the day they were born. How I was feeling, how I knew when it was time to go to the hospital, how long I waited there. What the weather was like. How it felt to hold them for the first time. That’s their origin story.

But recently, science—possibly junk science, depending on who you listen to—has made it possible to find out a bit more about your origin story. And which one of us doesn’t hope we can add a little to our origin story by exploring this avenue?

A little color.

Like many others, I have always been told there is Cherokee blood in my ancestry. I remember visiting Cherokee, N.C., as a child. We have pictures somewhere of Native Americans (we called them Indians back then) in full tribal headdress. My mother bought me a little doll from one of the gift shops. A little girl in a fringed leather dress with a feather in her black braids. I loved that doll. I dreamed about one day being a part of that all-too-colorful heritage (if you go back to Cherokee now, you’ll find a much more down-to-earth and realistic celebration of a wonderful civilization). The Tsalagi (Cherokee, originally Aniyunwiya) of North Carolina are the remainder of the proud nation who were forced West on the Trail of Tears by white men, the ones who clung to their traditions and the little bit of land they could lawfully acquire while their families and neighbors were forced on a journey many of them didn’t make it through.

Colorful, tragic, and beautiful. I always wanted it to be true that there was Cherokee blood in my veins because surely it ran a deeper vermillion than the European blood I knew was there.

And yet, when I had my DNA ancestry tested, I came up just about as lily white as can be. 71% England, Wales (this is vaguely interesting) and Northwestern Europe, 27% Ireland and Scotland, and 2% Sweden. Not unexpected at all, but it might have been nice to find something more exotic in my DNA.

I’ve accepted this lily whiteness and the blood that my ancestors have left on my hands. I belong to the most brutal of all races. White Europeans. The ones who destroyed the peaceful civilizations they found in North America and enslaved Africans to work they land they stole.

I saw in today’s news that Elizabeth Warren is being criticized for publicizing the DNA results which showed she has some portion of Native American ancestry in her origin story. Republicans don’t believe her, Native Americans say it’s problematic that she is claiming this ancestry and, hey, why the heck has she not been advocating for Native Americans all along if she wants to believe she’s one of them?

The answer is, I believe, a fairly simple one. All us white folks want to believe we’ve got something special about us. Some of us know we belong to a brutal race and wish we could be one of those our ancestors tortured to ease our guilt. That group includes me and Senator Warren. You’ve got nothing really to fear from us because we see a nobility in your suffering and perseverance. But the others of us want to believe their race is lily white because it’s superior. They won out over all other races not through brutality but because they were chosen. Those are the ones we should all fear.

Poem: Alternative Anthem

united states of america flag

Photo by Gerritt Tisdale on Pexels.com

Alternative Anthem

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

Oh say, can’t you see

In the day’s last blue light

That our country has bailed

And the darkness is looming?

 

What good are stripes and little stars

When we don’t do what’s right?

And our laws are all botched,

By our government’s scheming?

 

And the lies that we’re told

Well, they’re really getting old!

And there’s proof of what’s right

But we must stand up bold.

 

Oh say, can’t you help me raise a flag we can praise—

O’er a land of truly free and a home to all the brave?

Poem: Standard Haiku

I never really claim to be a poet, but I like writing poetry. I love haiku. Its beauty is in its simplicity. A rigid format that nonetheless lets you play within the boundaries.

 

Standard Haiku

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

We once held the Truth,

It squirmed away, leaving just

A bloody remnant.

 

Better than Justice,

Who left us what we didn’t

Use—her blinded eyes.

 

Oh, Morality!

What have you become? Twisted

Past recognition.