George Santayana is credited with the quote: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Of course this is true. If it were not so, the first war would have been the last. Nor would there be facisim. Or Nazi’s. Who would repeat such atrocities if they had remembrance of the original sins?
When I look at the faces of those who marched in Charlottesville, under the swatiskas, the Confederate flags and other banners of hatred and indifference, I see young men. They are at an age that should be filled with promise, not debilitating anger. I must question why.
What have these youth been taught about the traditions of tragedy they seem so eager to repeat? Why here, in America, in the 21st Century, would they seek to re-enact the worst moments of history?
What aspects of slavery, war, and genocide don’t they understand? Why don’t they grasp the gravity of the ideologies they seem to have adapted? Who are their heroes and why?
Who are their teachers, their mentors, their leaders? How and where did they grow up?What kind of environment foments this level of fear, denial and hatred? What is it about equality and diversity that so threatens their sensibilities that they feel they must take up arms and march through the streets against those ideals?
These are questions we need to ask ourselves at this moment in history, not as a political exercise, but as a moral imperative. This is the time for America to rise up and slay the beast, before it tears us apart. It’s not the time to be polite, silent, or disengaged for the sake of one’s own peace of mind. Not now. Now is the time to educate.
How do you teach those who are too young to remember, the truth about such things?
Can we load them all up on buses, drive them to the nearest airport and send them off to the concentration camps for a first hand look at the relics of Hitler’s final solution? Make them sit among the piles of shoes, glasses, and other personal effects from those who died there to make it more real? Can we lock them behind the gates, under the watchful eyes of the armed guard towers and surrounded by electrified barbed wire to recreate the horror for them? Fire up the furnaces so they feel the heat, force them to breath the ashes of their loved ones? Take everything they own, starve them and make them work until they drop into shallow graves onto piles of rotting corpses, the remains of their family, friends and relatives?
Can we steal them from their homeland, wrap them in chains and load them up on boats, in fetid sweltering quarters, with insufficient water, rotten food and no sanitation, and ship them off to foreign lands? Can we sell them to the highest bidder, enslave them and their offspring for 245 years and force them to work in unforgiving conditions for the benefit of those who bought them? Can we make them non-persons? Can we discriminate against them when they finally find themselves free men? Can we make them sit at the back of the bus, bar them from eating in our establishments or using our facilities, or keep them from attending certain schools or voting in our elections? When they protest, can we spray them with fire hoses and sic the dogs on them, and beat them with clubs? Can we hurl vial insults at their little girls on their first day of school? Can we subject them to these indignities, and more, in the hopes that they might understand the struggles of those who have endured them previously?
These are, of course, rhetorical questions. But why should we need to even consider them? All of the atrocities mentioned above have been documented, adjudicated, proven. Shared in first hand accounts. Attested to by eye witnesses. Captured on film and in written record. We know these truths to be self evident. Denial of these truths doesn’t make them less true.
The reality of hatred is out there. Anyone can learn about it and be taught to understand it’s consequences. Anyone can teach truth to their progeny. Everyone should. Our youth cannot be allowed to forget the end results of hatred, bigotry and racism. America at this moment needs to be reminded. Because the cost of forgetting is not something we want to consider.
©2017 by Ilona Elliott
Excerpts from The Whispering Leaves of the Hiroshima Ginkgo Trees by Ariel Dorfman: On Aug. 6, 1945, a 14-year-old schoolboy named Akihiro Takahashi was knocked unconscious by a deafening roar and a flash of blinding light. When he awoke, he found that he had been thrown many yards by the detonation of the atom bomb dropped on […]
Those readers who are convinced that North Korean missiles are now, even as we speak, headed this way, have no need to continue reading this blog post. If you truly believe you have mere moments left, you certainly don’t want to spend them wallowing in Life in the Boomer Lane’s depleted mental universe. Please come up […]
A few days ago I posted a little essay about the ice cream truck that frequents our neighborhood. We really like the fact that we have an ice cream truck that comes around, especially since lately we have been out working in the ninety plus degree heat for several hours a day. He generally comes about the time we are wrapping up for the night, covered in dirt, sweat and an astonishing variety of live bugs and dead plant material that rivals anything the dog picks up on his daily walks.
Yesterday I came home from the grocery store with two packages of Klondike Bars. They were buy one, get one free at Safeway. When I opened the freezer drawer to deposit them in the deep freeze, I noticed a couple of bars in there from the ice cream truck. Must have shown up early that day. According to the old man, he drove right down our driveway, (it’s a pretty long driveway), to the shop. We laughed about how we’ve got him trained well.
Today ended up being another sweltering day. I was out in the green house tying up the beans and tomatoes when I heard the ice cream man headed our way. The sound was so faint at first, you had to strain your ears to hear him, but it got progressively louder as he approached our end of the street, and then it got really loud, because he was in our driveway again! So I kind of hid in the green house because I felt weird that we weren’t going to be buying any ice cream from him, and here he was, at our door again. Luckily I was in the end of the green house blocked from view by the shed. It felt really strange hiding from the ice cream man. Something about the carnival ride like music, the simmering heat in the air, the guilt I felt, like I had done something terribly wrong, bringing home those Klondike Bars. It was almost like a Stephen King novel:
The truck stops in the driveway, I know because I hear the music, and the volume is constant, so no, he’s not leaving. I hear the creak of the door, and the ice cream man getting out, feet crunching on the gravel. He’s coming this way! Only now he’s an evil clown with a jack in the box, turning the crank to make the music keep playing as he approaches the green house, the one I’m peeking out of at him. I scurry to the other end and try to open the door, but of course, it’s stuck. My fault. Should have trimmed the thick grass and weeds growing out there weeks ago.
The music box is getting louder as he rounds the corner of the house and proceeds towards the open door of the green house. Can I make it out before he catches me and beats me to death with the ice pick dangling from a chain on his belt? I bolt for the door, and just as I step on the threshold, I scream. I’m face to face with the evil clown/ice cream man with the jack in the box (that surely contains the rotting corpse head of the real ice cream man who will pop out like alien and eat my brains the moment he stops cranking), when the old man casually steps out on the back deck in his boxers and tells the guy that his wife came home with Klondike Bars yesterday, so I guess we won’t be needing any coconut bars tonight. He stands there in his boxers, clueless.
The evil clown ice cream man imposter looks at me, malice squeezing out of his eyes like oily sweat on the brow of a spaghetti western cowboy on the outskirts of the desert somewhere in…Italy??? He walks away, slowly-ever so slowly, cranking on that box so as not to reveal the dead mans head inside to the old man standing there in his underwear looking down on him from the deck. He gets in the truck and drives away like a fox creeping away from the hen-house. I sigh and fall to the floor of the greenhouse. I scream again! Damn, that black weed-block fabric is hot! The old man shakes his head and gives me that “WTF?” look and steps back into the cool, air-conditioned house. All I can do is cry a few bitter tears, which I immediately lick off my salty lips with greedy slurps.
Did that really just happen? How can the old man be so oblivious to the fact that we are being stalked by a murdering evil clown/imposter ice cream man, who I suspect will be back tomorrow, another 90º plus scorcher according to the weather lady on Fox News Thirteen.
I cast myself on my knees, (ouch!) and pray for rain, a cool breeze, a day time high below 75º, a husband that pays attention– anything to keep that bastard evil clown away. Then I pick myself up off the floor of the steamy green house and go inside, where the old man is eating a Klondike Bar and watching the news. He remarks that tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter. I might be mistaken, maybe it is the heat, but I swear he’s fighting a tight-lipped evil clown grin as he says it.
©2017 by Ilona Elliott
Over the years we’ve brought you a handful of video essays about the relationship between visual and cinematic art, how directors will borrow from famous paintings and sculptures in their framing, but never before have we brought you such an essay that focuses exclusively on the influence of one artist. Thanks to editor Ignacio Montalvo, […]
The weather forecast is for gradually moderating temperatures. It’s a hopeful thought that I try to hold on to as I breath, in and out, the ashes of a world on fire.
Many of you may believe that there is no need for a news show devoted to The Long Red Tie, since CNN and MSNBC talk of little else. What more can possibly be covered, you ask. Not so fast with the assumptions. CNN and MSNBC, as we all now know, are fake news organizations, not […]
I like the dark side of the day. When the planet turns it’s face, at least the side I inhabit, away from the sun. Things change. People go inside, traffic dies down, the heat subsides, and the nocturnals come out again.
Of course, I also like to sleep. But that isn’t always easy around here. After dark, things start happening here on the edge of the woods.
There are nocturnal animals living in our hood. Cosmo likes to sleep outside in his kennel so he can keep track of them from behind his six foot tall fence. Sometimes he finds it hard to maintain his composure when things start moving through the yard. I wake up to his Dino the Dinosaur yapping and hear him running laps along the fence line, huffing and puffing. He’s not a barker, which is a blessing, but he does get in a lather over things out there some nights. When I open the the back door and call him, he charges inside, all “Hey Mom, did you see that?”, which of course, I did not.
I find it a distinct disadvantage at those times to be a human and not a dog. I’m aware that my senses have been dulled by evolutionary changes I can’t undo, and probably wouldn’t want to in the world I inhabit. Who could stand the smell of Tide or Eau de Perfume with up to 300 million olfactory sensors in their snouts? Our poor pets. But at night, in the dark, on the edge of big woods, those extra olfactory sensors would sure come in handy.
There are so many things, out there in the shadows, that could be spooking Cosmo.
Blacktail Deer come out of the woods to browse. Cotton tails ascend with wiggling noses, and hop about, cautiously nibbling on grass and dandelions. High in the fir trees, a Great Horned Owl perches, his astute gaze piercing the night in search of prey. Coyotes break out into eerie high pitched singing that moves from clear cut to wooded lot to creek bed as they travel around in the darkness. And there is a huge feral black cat with Halloween eyes that stalks the neighborhood day and night. Cosmo would love to get a piece of that. He hates cats.
There are more formidable nocturnals about also. The Fish and Wildlife officer in the hood, who live traps a lot of racoons around here, told a neighbor there are two cougar, one with a radio collar, and two bear living in the area–that he’s aware of. I imagine they are out there too, some nights.
I say this because a couple of years ago we started smelling something dead on the property. A few days later Glenn discovered the body of a yearling doe in the brush on the edge of our woods. It must have been the same scrawny one we had spied hanging out behind his shop for a few weeks prior.
When an animal dies on private property in this county, there is no one to call to remove it. So we left the remains where they were. Let nature take its course. It didn’t take long for the scavengers to move in. Buzzards started circling overhead, just like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Noisy ravens were soon hanging around, swooping through the trees, cawing at one another in sharp raspy voices. One day I walked around the back of the house and found myself eye to eye with a huge buzzard. He had stationed himself in the lower limbs of a large tree, just a few yards from the carcass. It was startling, really, how big he was at eye level. And I heard a little coyote activity back there once or twice, at night, but not as much as you might expect.
Then it got quiet again.
After about a week, I tip toed over to see what was up. Nothing. As in no-thing-at-all. A few tufts of hair on the ground. No bones. No entrails. No doe. Something had carried it off, but where? There are rough woods behind us, with all manner of downed branches, blackberry thickets and heavy brush to contend with. It’s not the kind of terrain that you could drag things through. Whatever it was that removed that carcass, it had to have carried it along the edge of the yard to some break in the woods, and then ??? I’m guessing it was a cougar or a bear. I didn’t go into the woods to look for clues. I booked it back into the house. It was…impressive.
So, on nights when Cosmo is in one of his “no thanks, it’s way cool out here and I’m not coming in” moods, I sleep with half an ear cocked to the open window. Because he can’t tell me what is out there. It keeps me guessing. Sometimes it keeps me awake.
He’s behind a six foot tall page fence. But you can never be too careful. Around here. After dark. When the nocturnals come out.
©2017 by Ilona Elliott
I heard it again in the distance. The tinny sound of a player piano. The musical theme song from “The Sting”. It took a moment for my brain to process what I was hearing into logical thought. Then I remembered.
“It’s the ice cream man!” I forgot all about him. He came around last summer too.
Lately, that tune is like a siren’s song we follow mindlessly to the end of the driveway on hot days, which is pretty much everyday now. When we’ve been working outside in the heat for hours and we know there’s a cool creamy treat waiting there, it’s hard to resist the call.
Saturday evening, the old man said he heard it and ran around looking for his slippers. Luckily, he had pants on, which isn’t always the case at that time of the day. We shuffled excitedly up the drive, stiff and sore from working, only to stand there waiting, waiting, waiting. Eventually, we realized that the music, and the ice cream, was getting farther and farther away. We missed the ice cream truck! Damn. We shuffled dejectedly back down the drive.
But yesterday, we were ready. When he came, the old man was right on it, and we put the treats in the freezer to enjoy later. The old man got a Good Humor strawberry shortcake first time out. It tasted like it was coated with little dried bits of dehydrated Robitussin and cocoa butter flakes from a jar swiped off the shelves at Rite-Aid. Not at all like I remembered them from my childhood. Of course at the time we thought Swanson TV Dinners were a delicacy, so maybe, they taste exactly the same as they’ve always tasted.
I’m partial to the Mexican brand treats myself–coconut bars, walnut bars, and chocolate coated berry bars. The ingredients on the label are all recognizable. You won’t find anything there that sounds like an ingredient from Vladimir Putin’s Mixology Guide: Cocktails for Dissenters. And they taste good.
I used to eat a lot of the strawberry shortcake and chocolate eclair bars as a kid. I wasn’t a popsicle fan at all, even though they were the cheapest choice (and Lord knows my Dad raised me to be cheap). For me it it was all about the frozen bovine broth. If I wanted frozen juice I could go home and fill Mom’s popsicle tray with Welch’s grape juice–for nothing.
And if I only had a dime to spend, I would get one of those little push up tubes of ice cream or the little cup that came with a tiny wooden spoon. The spoon was rough and was hell on your tongue, but I wasn’t gonna complain. They cost a dime kid. Hit the road.
These days, with inflation and all, it costs us four bucks for a couple of bars. But the anticipation of that treat, the little shiver I get when I hear the tinny piano playing “The Sting”, and the camaraderie of walking down the driveway with the old man to indulge in a summer ritual that harkens us both back to our childhoods–priceless.
©2017 by Ilona Elliott
This is a beautiful post I found on FB today. It’s a much deeper variation of a theme I posted about recently. I once shared my cannoli with a young service man from NOLA and he shared his sisters homemade pralines. We chatted and joked and then we both napped. We wished one another well at the end of the flight. It was the way things used to be when we traveled. It can be that way again. We just have to remember what unites us and not what makes us bury our heads and hearts in electronic media devices when we are in a crowd.
Reblogged from the post by David Kanigan on Live and Learn.
Gate A-4 By Naomi Shihab Nye:
Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her . What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”
I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, shu-bid-uck, habibti? Stani schway, min fadlick, shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be…
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