tough but true

I’m really unsure of how the following is relevant. Maybe it’s not. Please know it is not meant to be disrespectful of anyone  — nor is my experience meant to equate to anyone else’s truth. We have that problem these days… equating individual experience with everyone else’s truth.

Nonetheless, I’ve remembered this often. It is true…

As longtime readers of the Intramuralist will attest, throughout my life I’ve been a pretty good athlete. My knees are a little slower now… perhaps also my eye in striking the ball as forcefully… but as close friends will acknowledge, one may still have met their match in me on the Top Golf, Wii bowling, or backyard-any-sport circuit. Thank God for the smaller backyard-any-sport circuit. Those competitive juices remain.

In college, arguably, I hit my prime. In fact, as inspired the mantra for this blog, you’ll note I used to enter pretty much each and every intramural competition. And I’d do great! … that is, until I met the one who had played that particular sport their entire (doggone it) life…

Weightlifting, racquetball, tennis…

Ping pong or a semi-friendly game of H-O-R-S-E…

And badminton. Yes, badminton.

I was an excellent badminton player.

I know, I know… some still think it’s the backyard game of birdies, barbecue, and those tiny little shuttlecocks. But to me it was so much more. I kid you not…

In my distinguished D1 school, I took one P.E. class each semester; it was a physical outlet — my relief — often in the midst of a demanding academic course load. One semester I took badminton. Friends, I was really, really good.

One of my dear friends at the time was a young man who grew up in Southeast Asia. The son of a prominent politician, Erwin was afforded multiple, far-reaching opportunities. One of those was growing up playing the equivalent of AAU (the Amateur Athletic Union) on the select, badminton, Asia-Pacific circuit. Erwin was excellent at what he did.

Thus, as close and competitive as we were, in between classes and conversations and doing life together, he mandated I meet him on the badminton court.

Timelessly, he would say, “Ann, hit it here!” … and we would not leave the court until twenty times in a row, I could hit that frickin’, feeble little shuttlecock into a 0.76m x 0.46m space in the midst of a competitive match. Twenty times in a row.

Erwin drove me crazy.

He also made me good.

During our actual class, the course cumulated in an end-of-semester tournament. It was a co-ed, single elimination, best of 3 games tournament. Per the official rules, “Each game is played to 21 points, with players scoring a point whenever they win a rally regardless of whether they served. A match is the best of three games.” The tournament was a series of those three games.

I sailed through my side of the bracket. On the other side, there was a young man named “Brent,” who equally sailed through his. Brent was on scholarship; he played on our university tennis team — playing men’s singles #1 or #2. So the showdown was set… the finals… Brent vs. me.

Oh, my… what a wonderful match that it was… back and forth… back and forth. The more we played, the more the crowd paid attention. It was a fierce, well-played, competitive match. I was giving everything I had. So was he!

I won game 1. He won game 2. I won…

Well, therein lies the problem… well, sort of a problem.

This badminton match was one of the best sporting events I have ever been involved in — certainly the best individually. I played great. He played great. It was back-and-forth and totally competitive… 

For years I have sincerely shared this story, telling of one of my most awesome wins.

But here’s the God-honest truth…

I actually can’t remember if I won or not. I know I played great. I know he played great. I remember the looks on the faces of those around us, astonished by what transpired… here this scholarshipped tennis player… and me, this seemingly athletic nobody.

I can’t actually recount this story and scenario in all accuracy. I can only, authentically share how I felt. I remember how I felt. 

For me, it was awesome.  

This was 30 years ago. It was a wonderful, incredible day. My point is that sometimes feelings are more prominent than details. Tough story. I get it. But true.

Respectfully…

AR

think different?

In 1997, what was then known as Apple Computer, Inc., — a company that was reportedly “hemorrhaging” at the time, according to co-founder Steve Jobs — rolled out a new advertising slogan.

The legendary campaign featured a rainbow-colored Apple insignia on a black background, with the simple white text below it, encouraging viewers to: “Think different.” The contrasting logo, background, and text, as discussed by Rob Siltanen, who was the creative director for the marketing firm making the pitch, “seemed to make the ‘Think Different’ statement all the more bold.

Something within that slogan resonates loudly within me… the boldness… the encouragement… and the freedom… the freedom that acknowledges, “No, we don’t all have to think the same way.” In fact, it doesn’t make sense to me that we all must think the same way; it doesn’t even seem wise. Repeatedly, we have witnessed how we are strengthened and sharpened by the different.

But that message seems increasingly counter-cultural, as in recent weeks, many have asserted that all “identities” must think alike… all of one gender to one ethnicity, all of one religion to one political party, even from all celebrities to all assault victims…

… that for some reason, we must think exactly alike, sharing the same perspective.

And if we don’t, unfortunately, two conclusions seem to be made, perpetuated by these so-called, humanly crafted tribes:

One, you are wrong.

And two, you are not really one of us. 

You do not — cannot — belong to my “tribe.”

Just like that we judge another, dismiss perspective, and kill the bold encouragement to “think different.”

Last week I walked with a trusted friend. We do so weekly and always look forward to the next week; this was no different. Strolling around the neighborhood, we shared and discussed our perspectives on recent current events. As we walked, we uncovered a significant area where our reactions were strikingly different; we did not agree. But instead of either of us walking away or refusing to listen or even concluding that we were totally in the right and the other was totally in the wrong, we walked longer, talked longer, asked more questions, and listened more intently. I don’t know that in the end either of us significantly altered our perspective, but I can say that there was no conclusion that one of us was totally right, the other was totally wrong, and that we are no longer similar to the other… that we are no longer capable of being trusted friends. There was instead a keen awareness, acceptance, and acknowledgement of the bold freedom — and inherent wisdom — to “think different.”

Note that for Apple, the “Think different” campaign was considered wildly successful. In addition to receiving numerous advertising accolades and awards, the campaign was said to have transformed the company and “marked the beginning of Apple’s re-emergence as a marketing powerhouse.”

Said, too, by Siltanen, “It was the exact kind of attention-getting and thought-provoking advertising Apple desperately needed.”

Think different.

Attention-getting…

Thought-provoking…

Desperately needed.

Maybe that’s what the rest of us need, too… an awareness, acceptance, and acknowledgement of the bold freedom — and inherent wisdom — to actually “think different.”

Respectfully…

AR

bad things happen… to each of us

Seventeen years ago, my life changed. Not only did it change, but everything in me was convinced it was changing for the worse.

Let’s be clear; it wasn’t just me who believed that; there was a reason our friends and family cried. Add the doctor on top of that, arriving in the room no less than an hour after our youngest son’s birth, whose first words to us were, “This must be the saddest day of your whole life.”

Let that sink in for a minute… “the saddest day of your whole life.”

In addition to the no doubt unintended, perceived gut punch, the doctor left us with a thick packet of info, brochures, statistics, etc., which included a multi-page list of approximately 300+ things that our son was now more likely to have wrong with him.

Wrong. 

Bad.

That’s how we perceived it.

Before we get to the main point of today’s post, let’s acknowledge October as Down syndrome Awareness Month — a totally awesome month — and offer a brief, supportive shout out to the friends and families that have such a special someone as a member of their family! No doubt many of those in this community are some of the finest people we have ever met. Truly. But I’d like to go a little deeper this day… in a way that affects us all.

What happens when something bad happens to you? Something you truly perceive as bad? 

Does it define you?

Does it destroy you?

Does anything good ever come out of it?

Let’s first address the increasingly pervasive “one-size-fits-all” rationale. Sorry, but that doesn’t make much sense to me… that because you and I have both experienced “the same kind of thing,” we should react the same way or share the same perspective. I don’t buy it. We are each uniquely and wonderfully made; we are wired differently. Therefore, it makes total sense to me that men, women, adults, children, persons of varied ethnicity and demographic would and could respond in totally different ways. I’d like to see us each give others a little more grace in this area, recognizing that “one-size-fits-all” is more suited for a retail clothing promotion. 

We react differently. That’s ok. Not even the mature nor intelligent respond the same. That is equally ok.

For me, having a child with a cognitive disability — and knowing that I was going to have to change my expectations immediately — was incredibly hard. Harder still was wrestling with the perception that not only the world — but also me, at the time — thought this was bad.

When I pivoted, however, from seeing my challenging circumstance as any doubt regarding who God is and how much he loves me to instead an opportunity to get to know and rely on him more, something changed. I began to see something the world did not — and perhaps cannot — always see.

I began to see something other than that perceived as bad. I began to see this also uniquely and wonderfully made child… who would teach me and grow me and stretch me… who would challenge some of my cultural norms… who would say things and react in ways I did not… who helped me learn and quit judging the different… who knew no fear… who loved faster… who was full of hope… and who taught me the striking difference between intelligence and wisdom. I began to draw nearer to the great big God of the universe — and then find a strength I otherwise would not have known. What I once saw as bad did not define nor destroy me; it instead, actually strengthened me.

Allow me to never suggest that the bad things are easy. No way. Allow me to also never suggest any of us need to just “get over it.” But let me suggest that the bad things in our life do not need to be lingering sources of anger directed at either self, the world, or those who think differently. Challenging as they are, they can be an opportunity to grow… if we let them.

Yesterday, as my son and I stood at the bus stop for none other than his 17th birthday, he again requested a long time favorite song. And so at 6:30 in the morning, in a public place, on a semi-busy street, we stood outside, belted it, and danced… “When I see your face, there’s not a thing that I would change, ‘cause you’re amazing, just the way you are…”

I see that now… amazing…

What an incredible opportunity to grow.

Respectfully…

AR

no reasonable person could ever… right?

“I don’t know how anyone could ever ___________!”

Fill in the blank with whatever you wish, friends.

In the last week, I’ve heard everything put in that blank from believing her, believing him, being ok with dirty politics, to being an Ohio State football fan.

My fear is we’re collectively making a most grievous, blinding error.

Note the subject of that first sentence: I… me… my… myself…

Because I don’t know” — because I don’t think that way I project my perspective onto all others as the only wise perspective they could or should possess.

I assume I am right and that no reasonable person — certainly not an intelligent nor mature one — could come to any different conclusion.

So allow me to humbly ask… since when did it become wise to believe that there is only one right perspective?

Since when did it become wise to believe that there is only one right way to proceed? 

And since when did it become wise to project our own experience and our learnings from that experience onto everyone else?

It’s ok to see things different ways.

Really.

A year ago, we published a post entitled “Death to Our Relationships.” Substantive to the primary point were the words written by Washington Post columnist Christine Emba, discussing the deteriorating communication in our country. Said Emba, “Both right and left have engaged in the breakdown-inducing behaviors that have put our democracy on the edge of divorce.”

Is that not the truth? 

Said Senators Collins and Murkowski respectively on Friday… 

“We live in a time of such great disunity, as the bitter fight over this nomination both in the Senate and among the public clearly demonstrates. It is not merely a case of different groups having different opinions. It is a case of people bearing extreme ill will toward those who disagree with them…”

“I’m worried. I am really worried that this becomes the new normal, where we find new and even more creative ways to tear one another down.”

Let’s examine the bigger picture. Intelligent people are warring against one another; they are assuming another to actually be lesser because of their intense disagreement. Allow me to then also suggest that such intensity combined with intelligence is impairing not only our individual perspectives — but also how we treat all of mankind.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending a Special Olympics bowling competition for high schoolers in our county. It was a humbling, amazing event, seeing 5-6 Olympians fill well over 50 lanes. And then it dawned on me… did anyone notice the shirt that many of the very special athletes wore?

Read from the back of my son’s shirt:

“Play unified. Live unified.”

Live unified. 

I couldn’t help but think that here in an arena not necessarily known for its intelligence or cognitive astuteness, there is so much the rest of us could learn.

Respectfully…

AR

a letter to my sons

Dear Sons,

Oh, how I love and respect you. What an incredible privilege it is to be your parent. You are older now — on your own in many ways. I wanted to take a few moments to briefly revisit some important things your father and I have long attempted to instill in you. Granted, you are fairly independent now… it’s up to you…

Seek God first.

There is so much available to you on this planet… so much to strive for, seek and find. Embrace, enjoy, but don’t let the fleeting distract you, as this planet is not perfect, paradise, nor anything even close. It is not heaven and should never be confused as such. That means you will encounter sin and struggles in both others and yourself. Give others and yourself generous grace; pick yourself up when you fall and continue to grow. Welcome godly conviction but not human condemnation. And don’t point fingers — again, not at others nor at self. Finger pointing too often evinces hypocrisy.

Love your neighbor well.

Seeking God first means you attempt to follow what he asks of us. He asks us to love both what and who he created. It’s why we take care of both his people and his planet. Unfortunately, you will be tempted to love well only those who think, look, act and even vote like you. Don’t fall prey to that limited thinking; it takes even the intelligent down. Love the neighbor and the stranger. Respect them. Interact with them. Ask them questions and listen to their response. Ask them more. Know, too, they are always welcome at our table. 

Prioritize what is good and right and true.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Grace. Faithfulness. Forgiveness. Family. Friendship. Gentleness. Laughter. Humility. Service. Selflessness. And self-control. Never allow anything lesser to pierce what is good.

Pursue the truth.

Discerning what is true is a centuries-old challenge; it’s not always clear. Understand that what you feel doesn’t always line up with what is true. Your feelings are valid, but they are not necessarily indicative of the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Also, your experience does not equate to everyone else’s reality. Know that. Be humble. And never let these learnings halt your pursuit.

Eat your vegetables.

Yes, ok… that’s not really the best way to say this, and I haven’t always modeled this well. I have much to learn. The bottom line is for each of us to be healthy — to intentionally care for our body — emotionally, physically, and spiritually. If you are off in any of the three, you are most likely off in all. But again, give yourself great grace. It’s ok to not be ok.

Treat a girl like a queen.

I’ll be honest; this is a tough one these days, but I will not stray from what your father and I have always taught you. Girls long to be cherished; boys long to be respected. Never withhold your love and respect. From either. But be careful. Not everyone holds the same values as you, especially in regard to all of the above; some have not yet found that guiding moral compass. That doesn’t make another bad, but it does mean you must be careful about any potentially compromising situation. Don’t go too far with someone you don’t love, especially in regard to time, topic, and touch. Build friendship first. Be kind always.

And lastly, when panned or praised, criticized or commended, accused or absolved, always remember the first three above…

Seek God first…

Love your neighbor well…

Prioritize what is good and right and true.

All will not always go well for you. But if you follow the above, you should sleep very well at night. You will have peace.

Love you, sons… always and all the time…

AR

so now what?

This last week has been a political soap opera. With all due respect to both the bold and the beautiful, this week has been awful. 

Not awful because a woman was finally given an opportunity to speak. Not awful because a man was finally given an opportunity to clear his name.

Awful because of how we have behaved.

Flip from one news source to the other… from FOX to CNN… MSNBC to the Weekly Standard… HuffPo to WaPo… the New York Times to the New York Post. You’ll read what you want to hear… “There is no way she is lying!” … “There is no way he is lying!” … “The gaps in her story don’t matter!”… “A 35 year old accusation doesn’t matter!”… “How dare you don’t believe her!”… “How dare you slander him!”… “How dare you!!”

In other words… how dare you think differently than me.

Sadly, we have been encouraged to believe only one perspective is right.

Sadly, we have been encouraged that because only one perspective is right, all other angles are either evil, ignorant or idiotic.

And sadly, we like to say so. Sometimes meanly.

No wonder many of us have chosen simply to tune it out. No wonder many of us just want to say our peace absent of any dialogue. No wonder many of us, too, find comfort in social media’s partisan echo chambers.

Friends, I, too, have not handled all things well. I can get riled up sometimes; this has been awful. But let me humbly share with you what I sincerely believe…

I believe that last week we witnessed two honorable people share what they believe to be true.

I also believe that the media has egged us on…

… and our politicians are playing politics. There is zero doubt in my mind that political motivations drove much of the tense conversation in last week’s Senate chambers.

There gathered what a wise friend termed “the layout of the representation of America. We had the Texan, the Southerner, the New Englanders, the Hawaiian, the West Coast, East Coast. It didn’t matter if they were Republicans or Democrats; they collectively showed the divide, the anger, the incivility, the circus that is our country.”

That’s what’s awful. Do we even want to be civil again?

When Sen. John McCain passed away last month, some said at times he was “the conscience of the nation.” He encouraged civility. He encouraged respect. He did not want to fuel the divide. In his final statement, in fact, he wrote: “We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe.” Those tribal rivalries aren’t just across the globe; last week they were on display in the U.S. Senate.

So now what?

Will we humble ourselves?

By that I mean… will we quit acting as if there is only one right perspective?… will we quit disparaging the person who holds a different perspective? … will we quit hanging out with the one who thinks differently? … will we quit learning from them? … will we quit telling them that they need to think like us? … will we quit judging and insulting them if they don’t think like us?… will we quit thinking that one party is a beacon of purity and the other is evil? … will we quit dwelling in partisan echo chambers? … will we quit thinking that we are so moral and the other party is so not? … will we quit turning a blind eye to the obvious political ploys in the party with which we most identify? … will we quit ignoring that they are manipulating both citizens and situations for their benefit? … will we quit engaging in personal attacks? … will we quit relying on those biased news sources for accurate news? … will we quit?

Will we quit throwing stones at one another?

Sadly, too many believe we must keep throwing stones. One month, it’s one party — the next, the other. And we justify the throwing by our tribal likeminded because “those guys did it first.” Do we not realize by continuing to justify the throwing of stones, we are doing damage? We are not being humble; we are instead contributing to the circus; and we are making things worse.

So again… now what?

Humbling ourselves, each of us — meaning respecting and loving our brothers and sisters, neighbors and strangers, no matter how different they look, act, vote, and think like us — such is the only honorable way. 

Sure, that sentence is a little klunky. But I want to be clear. Respecting, loving, and interacting with the one who is different than us is the only honorable way.

Respectfully…

AR

a sobering but important read…

On August 5, 2010, Elena Kagan was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. She was nominated by Pres. Obama, after previously serving in both his and Pres. Clinton’s administrations. Kagan was the first nominee with no experience as a judge since William Rehnquist in 1972. Ideologically, she is considered to be liberal. (She also hired current nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh when dean of Harvard Law School.)

In her confirmation process, a letter from Miguel Estrada was shared. Estrada commended Kagan for possessing a “formidable intellect” and “exemplary temperament.” Ideologically, Estrada is considered to be conservative. Estrada still believed a President has the prerogative to nominate judges who share his/her governing philosophies. Hence, different as they are, Estrada felt Kagan was “an impeccably qualified nominee.”

Move to today’s Supreme Court squabble, where many have referenced the former controversy surrounding Justice Clarence Thomas. Allow me to humbly suggest we should also look at what happened to Miguel Estrada — and to his family. He, too, was once nominated…

Having received a unanimous “well-qualified” rating from the American Bar Association, Estrada was nominated in 2001 by Pres. George W. Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. [According to Wikipedia] “Senate Democrats, claiming Estrada was a conservative ideologue with no experience as a judge, and unable to block his nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee after the Republican Party took control of the Senate in 2002, used a filibuster to prevent his nomination from being given a final confirmation vote by the full Senate.”

More from Wikipedia:

“… Leaked internal memos to Democratic Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin mention liberal interest groups’ desire to keep Estrada off the court partially because ‘he is Latino,’ and because of his potential to be a future Supreme Court nominee. A spokesman for Durbin said that ‘no one intended racist remarks against Estrada’ and that the memo only meant to highlight that Estrada was ‘politically dangerous’ because Democrats knew he would be an ‘attractive candidate’ that would be difficult to contest since he didn’t have any record…”

Estrada was nominated in May of 2001. After 28 months in political limbo — including seven failed cloture votes, six months of filibuster use, and continuous political posturing — Estrada withdrew his name from further consideration on September 4, 2003.

Summarizing the account… “Numerous judicial nominees prior to Estrada had been kept off the courts, when the Senate refused to let the nomination out of committee for a floor vote… but the Estrada filibuster was different in multiple ways. Estrada’s was the first filibuster ever to be successfully used against a judicial nominee who had clear support of the majority in the Senate. Estrada’s was the first filibuster of any court of appeals nominee. It was also the first filibuster that prevented a judicial nominee from joining a court.”

Oh, how sobering this is. Can we not admit that political motivations are in play? … from all sides? 

… with the Democrats on Estrada… the Republicans on Merrick Garland… 

And now — regardless of whether or not Dr. Christine Ford is telling the truth — can we not admit that both the Democrats and Republicans are still playing political games?

This is disturbing. 

But sadly, it gets worse.

During the confirmation process of Miguel Estrada, his wife, Laury, suffered a miscarriage. Then, a year after her husband’s name was both damaged and withdrawn, Laury passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. She died of an accidental overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills. Persons on all sides of the proverbial political aisle could not help but wonder how much the unprecedented stress of those 28 months painfully impacted their family.

What are we doing? Who will be maligned next?

Can we stop for a moment, recognizing that both sides are playing games, and as the watching public, we are fueling the fight when we justify the game playing by one??

At the onset of the Trump administration, Miguel Estrada was rumored to be a candidate for the nation’s next solicitor general. Estrada released a statement: “I have only respect and best wishes for those who agree to serve despite the deterioration of the confirmation process over the years, but everyone who knows me in this town knows that I would never accept a job that requires Senate confirmation…”

The deterioration of the process… that’s it.

Regardless of what happens this week and next with Ford, Kavanaugh, and seemingly, “As the Senate Turns,” I pray no one finds cause to celebrate. The process remains deteriorated… that is, until we quit taking sides, tolerating solely the games of one.

Respectfully…

AR

a few more words on Kavanaugh & Ford

So allow me to humbly offer a few more words…

What I appreciate in the current #MeToo moment is the breakthrough of speaking truth to power, giving women an honored voice where for too long there has been a consistent none.

What concerns me in this moment is the breakdown of some key societal norms that have long been considered wise, such as being innocent until proven guilty and truth not discerned via gender, ethnicity, or other demographic.

Unfortunately, I feel we’ve lost our way somewhat. Our emotions have clouded our perspective.

How we feel is dictating our truth.

We have become biased. And most of us can’t see it in ourselves — only in others.

Every accuser deserves to be heard, friends. But every accuser does not deserve to be believed.

Again, allow me to reiterate my desire to humbly address this heartache; this is indeed a tough, multi-faceted subject. For those I’ve walked with who have severely struggled to recover from such trauma, I have grieved and cried with them… too often, gut-wrenchingly for years.

I have also walked and grieved and cried with numerous others — with no judgment whatsoever — who have lied.

I’m not really comfortable with the word “lied” in that sentence; sorry — it actually pains me to post it. In my experience, it hasn’t always been a boldface lie, but more a distortion of truth. Some women and men do distort truth… often sincerely, albeit knowingly or unknowingly. Having experienced that multiple times, it affects my current perspective.

The reality is that we often gauge our perception on whether a specific accuser is telling the truth based on our own experience.

Friends, with all due respect, that is an inaccurate gauge. 

We can’t tell whether Dr. Ford or Judge Kavanaugh is telling the truth based on their gender or our experience. We can’t tell without any sworn testimony or collaborating evidence. I am sorry we can’t immediately tell; no doubt that is currently a most inconvenient truth for a watching nation with far too constant, breaking news. But what we know is not enough. We don’t know enough to base a belief on fact; we only know enough to base a belief on bias.

What we also know — that also greatly disheartens me — is that many of our elect are politically motivated. That’s on the left and right, friends. And if Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh are each sincere in their perspective — which is quite possible — our elected politicians are doing a disservice not only to us, but also, greatly to them. I  am highly disappointed with the political motivations that are obviously in play… and also, by our narrow vision that only allows us to see those unscrupulous motivations on one side…

Of course, the Democrats want to delay this.

Of course, the Republicans want to be done with it.

Both parties are clearly, politically motivated.

And so I find myself not trying to find compromise, so-to-speak, but rather, attempting to best discern what here is good and right and true. 

That’s hard. Really hard.

I get tempted to base my perception of truth on how I feel…

… on my own experience…

… on my political leanings…

… on my sobering frustration with the entire Senate Judiciary Committee…

But that is not enough to discern truth.

Hence, with this situation seemingly only feeding the divisiveness that partisans on both sides continue to fuel, the only wise thing I know is for each of us to pause, humble ourselves, and pray. Pray for truth to be revealed.

Join me. 

Will you?

Respectfully…

AR

Kavanaugh questions

With the latest developments in the Supreme Court confirmation process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Senate leaders called for a public hearing next Monday. At the time of this posting, accuser Christine Blasey Ford has not accepted the Senate’s invitation; hence, the hearing may not happen.

But assuming it does, according to Senate rules, the question-asking of those testifying before a committee can be assigned to any individual. Recognizing that unpretentious, respectful, truth-seeking questions are most necessary, the Intramuralist has been assigned to the task before us. Under oath, I’d sincerely like to ask the following…

To the accuser…

  • Is this true?
  • Is any part of this exaggerated?
  • Why do you remember specifically what happened but do not remember where you where, when you were there, and why you were there?
  • Why did you edit your social media accounts to remove previously posted progressive ties?

To the accused…

  • Is this true?
  • Is there any angle or aspect which is partially true?
  • How well have you known your accuser?
  • Did any of your friends have a relationship with her?
  • How have you grown or changed emotionally and spiritually since high school?

To the Senate Judiciary Committee…

  • Who leaked this story?
  • Why?
  • Sen. Feinstein, why did you wait 7 weeks before sharing this information?
  • Why didn’t you ask Kavanaugh about it in committee or in a private, closed door session?
  • Did you intentionally withhold this information for political reasons?
  • Sen. Grassley, why did you immediately suggest the vote would go on as planned and not take time to listen to the accuser?
  • Do you not believe that every accuser has a right to be heard?
  • Are you intentionally rushing hearings for political reasons?
  • Democrats, since many of you admitted you would not vote to confirm Kavanaugh even before meeting him and hearing his testimony, how much of this is:
  1. an attempt to delay in hopes of getting closer or past the midterm elections, hoping to fan the flames of the #MeToo movement? Or…
  2. an attempt to damage Kavanaugh’s credibility as a future justice? 
  • Republicans, since many of you admitted you would vote to confirm Kavanaugh even before meeting him and hearing his testimony, how many of you are actually willing to sincerely listen to the accuser and consider her account as potentially true?
  • To all of you, what other motives are in play?
  • Do you recognize that your lack of objectivity is making many of us wish to support none of you?
  • And do you realize that your behavior is prompting many of us to lose respect for our government?

And to those of us watching…

  • Why do we allow our partisan leanings to sway our perception of truth?
  • Are tribal lines more important than truth?
  • Where have we not believed the accuser because we liked the person she accused?
  • Why do we respond differently to whether the accused is Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Keith Ellison or Kavanaugh?

And more…

  • In the #MeToo movement, should the accuser always be believed?
  • On whom rests the burden of proof?
  • Do we recognize that for the accuser who is telling the truth, it takes tremendous courage to speak up even after many years?
  • Is it possible that Ford is telling the truth, but got the person wrong?
  • Could Ford and Kavanaugh both be telling what they believe to be true?
  • Does evidence matter?
  • Do witnesses matter?
  • Does a non-criminal scenario this old matter?
  • And can we admit that the only two people in the entire world who have some semblance of the truth are Christine Ford and Brett Kavanaugh? … and that none of us… none of the rest of us… can specifically discern what happened?

We weren’t there.

(I’m not the question-asker either.)

Respectfully…

AR

race, in the airport…

“F- – – YOU!”

“F- – – YOU!” (…a little louder than the last…)

And as it was said at least three more times each, my African-American friend in-line and I looked at one another, grimacing, disheartened by what we had sadly just stood between.

My respite this summer included a variety of interactions and travels… some with family, some with the familiar, others still to a foreign land.

On one such venture, I was traveling alone, attempting to grab a quick bite before catching my next flight. I stopped in the airport at one of those make-your-own, fast-fire pizza joints, hoping to grab something quick and be distracted by nothing else. Unfortunately, I was distracted immediately.

The pizza place was packed. The lines were long, the pace was fast, and the workers were seemingly drowning, attempting to simply keep up. 

It’s tough when you’re drowning; you’re trying to keep up at a minimum, survive it seems, maybe do the best you can; but at the very least, the desire is simply to hold all things together. The staff here was trying, but it was challenging at best. Smiles were at a minimum. Scarce, in fact. Ok, nonexistent. The chaotic pace had zapped any otherwise present joy.

I met a young African-American male in line; our conversation was brief but solid — each in search of a brief respite before our connecting flight.

The pizza place staff was very ethnically mixed — black, white, Hispanic. The manager was a middle-aged white male, who by all accounts, was also in a pretty steely mood; in restaurant terminology, he was totally, completely “in the weeds.”

Prior to placing my order, there was a 30-something, African-American woman who placed her order. In addition to her pizza, she purchased an empty cup. She and what looked like maybe her mother took a seat a row behind my in-line friend and me, while her male counterpart stood at the counter awaiting her order… and yes, her cup.

So amid the crowd stood my newfound friend and me and the man who was retrieving the order for the African-American woman. We stood between the woman, the counter, and the store manager.

When the pizza was finally retrieved for the woman, the manager forgot to give her the cup. Her friend retrieved the pizza but failed to realize the importance of the cup. The woman started yelling — a semi-silent yell at this point. Her friend looked at her confusingly; he didn’t understand. She responded semi-loudly, “My cup! Don’t forget my cup!”

Her friend turned to the manager behind the counter, saying nothing, but politely gesturing and pointing to the cup. The manager — trying to manage at least 7 other orders simultaneously — was seemingly aware something was happening, but was unsure of exactly what it was…

“Get my damn cup! I paid for that damn cup!” the woman more loudly reiterated from a row away.

At this point, the manager seemed unaware of the specifics but very aware that one of his customers was annoyed with him and his marketplace. He looked up, seemingly stupefied at the perceived annoyance. He obviously didn’t care for the ratcheting up of emotion, and then started to get gruffer with those in his immediate presence, not realizing the cup was of chief importance. It mattered not… the woman continued…

“I paid for that cup! Check the frickin’ receipt!!” (Note: “frickin” is a substitute for the actual, so-called “French.”)

The manager proceeded to get hot. He grabbed a cup, gave it to the woman’s friend, but clearly, disrespectfully mumbled vulgarities under his breath. Meanwhile, the woman continued, dissatisfied at the lack of expedient service… 

“I am not a poor Nigger! I am not a poor Nigger! I can afford anything I want! Want to see my bank account?? I am not a poor Nigger!” 

She said it over and over again. My heart hurt for her.

The manager at this point was clearly, increasingly irked. He started shouting at her. Who said “f-you” first,” I do not know. They both just kept shouting at one another, focused most on their own circumstances, irritations and inconvenience.

My newfound African-American friend of mine… well, he and I just looked at each other, and sadly shook our heads. I was so thankful for him — for our bond amidst the discomfort. We both hated being there… being in the middle. If either of us could have made a significant difference, we would have done so. But here were two people who were clearly upset, and could see nothing other than their own circumstances. They could not see any other way.

I was thankful for my new friend. We shook our heads, nodding a sober goodbye, both wishing for something better and more.

We realized the absence of authentic communication — more so, the absence of any actual desire to communicate. We walked away, grimacing, disheartened by what we had sadly just stood between.

Respectfully…

AR