When We Know Better, We do Better!

Tattered but Salvageable

“While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s Creation.” ~ Maya Angelou

I’m feeling very emotional as I write this post today. It will be published on American Independence Day and that brings mixed feelings for me almost every year, but particularly this year with all the demonstrations and influx of Covid-19 cases. The demonstrations against racism and declaring that Black Lives Matter are necessary to help bring about real change. It’s just another step in our evolution as a country. The influx of Covid cases is, in my opinion, a lack of strong leadership coupled with people claiming their First World Privileges that put us all in danger.

But I want to take you through my thought process that led to this post.

A few days ago I was chatting with a college friend for an episode of Story~Power. We were talking about musicals since she loves them. And she was pointing out something I had never thought about before, that there is always a dark side to almost every musical. Since we were recording close to July 4th, I mentioned the musical 1776, which she had never seen. That surprised me. It’s one of my favorites. It’s not one of my favorites because it glorifies the unprecedented, at that time, declaration of intent to separate from the mother country. It’s because the musical has scenes and two songs that acknowledge the imperfection of the process of trying to form a new country.

The first song is one I find oddly relevant it’s “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men”. It’s about the conservative landed men who have become rich in their new land, and that their aim is to make sure their set stays on top of the population heap. If you watch this on TCM, the commentator will point out that this song was removed from the first theatrical release because President Nixon had previewed the film and didn’t like the song. It was too close to home. It exposed the tactics of his party and himself. He asked the producers to remove it. The link will take you to the site where you can find the lyrics for this and all the songs in 1776.

The second song, “Molasses to Rum” is even more devastating. The lyrics point out the connection between molasses, rum, and slaves and the fact that this trade triangle wouldn’t exists if not for the ships sailing out of Boston with bibles and rum heading for Africa to pick up a ship full of slaves bound for the Colonies. The music and lighting are hauntingly beautiful which belies the dark reality of the words.

The movie also shows that this country was made possible because those who wanted to end slavery had to compromise with those who promised to block separation from England if they didn’t allow it to continue.

The formation of the United States of America was a huge experiment. People like John Adams and Benjamin Franklin wanted a clean beginning for our country. But they couldn’t accomplish that at the time. They had to make a choice, to attempt to separate from Britain, or to continue to suffer under Her rule. We know the choice they made.

Like all experiments we’ve tried and failed over and over again to free people from oppression. Less than one hundred years after we became a country, we fought a war to end slavery. One hundred years later, the Civil Rights Movement made some progress for the rights of blacks. Now fifty-five years later we get a new opportunity to reset our experiment and try again.

The thing I love about The Black Lives Matter movement is that its bringing up not only inequities of how blacks have been treated, but all other populations of color as well and that’s a good thing.

The title of this post is, I believe, a quote by Maya Angelou. The Founding Fathers did the best they could at the time they declared independence from Great Britain. But of course the slaves, women, Native Americans, and many other groups of people were left out of the “We the people of the United States …” written into the Constitution. I’m hoping that from this 4th of July forward we, as a nation, will do the self-examination necessary to make those rousing words of The Declaration of Independence and our Constitution finally become reality. I’m committed to not turning away from the work. I now know better so I have to be committed to doing better.

Thank you for reading, commenting, and liking. If you like what you read here, please share it with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2020

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards.

Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published.

Grateful but not Proud

Tattered but Salvageable

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ~ Virginia Woolf

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” ~ Coco Chanel

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” ~ Ronald Reagan

When George W. Bush was President, Barry said, “I’m grateful to be an American, but not always proud.” That’s how I’m feeling today, and I’m not alone. Alex Tanzi of Bloomberg published an article July 4th titled, “Americans Are Less Proud to Be Americans This Year.”

In fact, Tanzi says in the article that our level of pride is at the lowest point it’s ever been. Less than half of Americans consider themselves, “extremely proud” of our country. And if you ask them how they feel about the political, health, and welfare systems, only about a third of respondents say they are proud.

Since the day before yesterday was Independence Day in the U.S., many of us had a chance to reflect on how our country got started, the mistakes we’ve made in our history, and what changes we’d like to enact to make our country better.

It’s a 4th of July tradition at our house to watch the musical 1776 by Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone, based on their stage play of the same name. Now, I know, there are lots of people who don’t like musicals because they aren’t realistic, and they’re schmalzy. But this is not one of them. It shows the congress passing silly and unnecessary resolutions, John Adams and his harshest critic and opponent, John Dickinson, getting into a physical fight, and the intense struggle to even get the idea of declaring independence from England to the floor for debate. And once Thomas Jefferson has written the document, it is ripped to shreds by the delegates.

The dialogue is snappy, at times funny, and at times tragic. The songs move the story forward with the sentiments being debated among the delegates, and the personal struggles of the main character John Adams.

You may not know that Jefferson included a clause in the Declaration abolishing slavery, but, of course, the Southern delegates would not agree to ratify it if that clause was included. This debate is summed up in a beautiful and devastating song, “Molasses to Rum”, in which Edward Rutledge of South Carolina sings about how the Boston shipping companies, participate in the slave trade by trading molasses for rum, and then buying slaves and taking them back to be sold in the New World. John Adams may want the Northern colonies to be blameless of slavery, but they aren’t, and this song brings that fact to the forefront of our consciousness. Other songs, like “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men” and “Momma Look Sharp” are equally as moving in different ways.

This movie shows what a wonder it was that the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the delegates of all thirteen colonies. And it’s even more surprising that we eventually won the war against a vastly superior foe. Miracles happened, but we were born a nation with blots on our ledger and more than just the fact that we continued to allow slavery in our new country. The government promised the Native peoples things, which they didn’t keep. There was also religious intolerance from the beginning, and women, of course, were not granted equal rights.

I know that none of us get away from facing our “stuff”, the mistakes we’ve made, the wounds we have inflicted, or suffered. That goes for individuals and nations too. We’re at a critical juncture in this country. We need to address those old, old wounds that were left unresolved by the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

There are days when I’m tempted to bury my head in the sand and not deal with my part in where we are as a country. But in my personal life, I’ve worked to clear out the things that were unhealed and something about who I am can’t turn my back on the problems we’re facing in this country either.

As the last strains of the finale music from 1776 played, I said to Barry, “This movie gives me hope.” What I was thinking was how miraculous things happen against all odds when we least expect them to. But miracles don’t happen in a vacuum. We have to work for them in both big and small ways. I’m probably not going to be like the Founding Fathers, but I’m committed to doing by part in small ways.

Just writing this blog post makes me feel better. I’m still not happy with the human rights violations, corruption and dalliances with dictators of this administration, but I have to remember that this country is made up of lots of people who were fleeing TO freedom. And in the end, I can’t see us allowing ourselves to become victims of a dictator. At least, I hope we won’t. I’m praying for another miracle.

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. Welcome to my new followers.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.