It Takes All Kinds (of Kinds)

Now some point a finger and let ignorance linger
If they’d look in the mirror they’d find.
That ever since the beginning to keep the world spinning
It takes all kinds of kinds.*

For most of my life, I stuck with my kind of people. Do you know what I mean? I hung out with people with similar socioeconomic and educational backgrounds; similar religious and political views; people with whom I thought I had the most in common.

When I was around folks who saw the world too differently from me, I would tend to become wary of conflict or feel a peculiar need to proselytize (I’m not just talking religion, it could be anything on the list of life events). I felt safe in alikedness.

I’ve always heard: People are the same everywhere.  I used to believe that. Not anymore. And more importantly, why would we want them to be?

7 years ago, I left my lifelong Midwest residency for a job in Oregon, then California, then back to Oregon and now, for the past 3 years, I’ve been buried deep in southern Texas. I learned real quickly that living and working in a place isn’t at all like passing through on vacation. I’ve been blessed to do a lot of traveling, and as a tourist, I’ve loved being an observer. But when you live and work with people, you don’t just observe – you participate whether it’s sand dollars and starfish or javelinas and jalapenos!

With every relocation, I’ve been introduced to new ways of understanding a well turned phrase. Each move has brought people into my life with whom I’ve had seemingly little in common but oh, what they’ve taught me by helping me see our world through their eyes.

One of the things I’ve discovered through these adventures is that people are not the same everywhere. There are lots of common traits: goodness, kindness, compassion, meanness, arrogance, selfishness. But by and large, we’re regional thinkers. It goes way beyond food and fashion and accents. Different places plant different kinds of thoughts in folks. Usually, not always, the thinking grows and spreads.

I’ve found people in the Midwest to be different from people on the West coast who are different from folks down here in the South.

That’s kind of great!

I’ve learned so much from people who aren’t my kind. The friends I’ve made, and the diverse groups I’ve broken bread with, have taught me to value our differences instead of feeling the need to conform myself or to reform/inform others.

I’ve certainly learned that it takes all kinds of kinds. I know some of you aren’t big country music fans, but would you take a couple of minutes to watch this video anyway? I didn’t add it as filler. It’s more of a visual philosophy.

*Lyric by Don Henry

After 7 years on the road and 3 years in the oil field, I’ve met a lot of kinds of kinds. 

If it were practical and possible, I’d recommend everyone uproot (even if only for a year or two) and plant themselves in an entirely different region to live and work with people they don’t think are their kind. We have remarkable things to learn from each other!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written here at Fork. Our Deep in the Heart of Texas, a long way from nowhere, gate guarding Internet has been nominal on good days. It’s still hit and miss but I’ve decided to post more often on the hit days.

I’m writing again, in part, because I’ve learned so much from all of you and y’all are one diverse bunch! To quote John Denver (yes, I’m equally surprised at the attribution – case in point):

I believe that we are here for each other, not against each other. Everything comes from an understanding that you are a gift in my life – whoever you are, whatever our differences.

Thank you for the gift! It does take all kinds of kinds!

Cords: The Ties That Bind – A Tribute

To say that we aren’t “crafty” would be an understatement of some magnitude. You’ve seen my drawings and my pumpkins so you have some idea. The fact that you haven’t seen any drawings or pumpkin carvings by Heidi should help fill out the picture.

And, of course, you know about my knitting – scarves – just scarves.  Shortly after Hurricane Sandy, Heidi connected with some folks on the East Coast that were in desperate need of scarves and and mittens. I was thrilled to box up garbage bags full of scarves, knowing they were going to add the smallest bit of comfort.

That’s what we want to do when in light of unimaginable sorrow – try to find some tangible way to comfort.

Our TSA boss asked if we would make something out of blue and yellow ribbons for everyone to wear today. Last night we were given spools of blue and yellow cords. I had no idea what to do with cord. I tried braiding bracelets without much success. I finally gave up and fashioned pins that I hoped look a little like children.

We all wore them today – everyone who works here, everyone who came here. All over the nation, people were wearing Sandy Hook’s school colors: green and white or blue and yellow, because we want to do something, anything. We want to help and we can’t. Feeling helpless can lead to hopelessness. It can also lead to indifference.

Mourning is love with no place to go. ~ anon

Today we wore their colors… for at least one more day, we remembered and prayed. Before long, the news coverage will switch to the fiscal cliff or another tragedy and most of our lives will settle into a routine of regular-ness. It has to be that way or we couldn’t survive. We can’t carry the weight of all the grief and sorrows we hear about each day. But today, we cry. Today we pray.

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief… and unspeakable love. ~ Washington Irving

What we can’t afford to do is to become indifferent. We’re bound together by cords. This isn’t a post about guns or mental health. It’s not a platform. It’s personal. It’s a call to care, to pray, to remember. I’m going to leave my little blue and yellow cords on until they come a part just to help me remember a little longer.

Quiet and sincere sympathy is often the most welcome and efficient consolation to the afflicted. Said a wise man to one in deep sorrow, ‘I did not come to comfort you; God only can do that; but I did come to say how deeply and tenderly I feel for you in your affliction. ~ Tyron Edwards

Tonight The Voice opened with a moving tribute – click on the Watch on You Tube link.


What Happens Wednesday Morning?

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
~Abraham Lincoln

When I was in college, many of my professors were partial to blue book exams. I got the first C of my academic life my freshman year in my Intro to Political Science class. The semester final was a blue book with just one question. Why is American in more danger from attacks within than attacks from outside our borders?

This was in 1979. We were experiencing a time of relative peace and prosperity as a nation. I looked at the question – 50% of my grade for the semester – and had no idea what the answer was. I eventually filled my 6 pages with everything I could think of that Dr Loy might be alluding to which, based on my grade, read like the drivel that it was. I simply didn’t know. I have a better idea what he meant today.

Hopefully, by Wednesday morning, the election will be over and the man who will serve as the President of the United States for the next fours years will have been selected. Wednesday morning some percentage of the country will be very happy. Probably about the same percentage will believe the end of the world is near. Regardless of the outcome, I’m guessing the majority of Americans will be slightly optimistic or slightly disturbed or slightly indifferent.

This isn’t really a post about politics. It’s a post about attitudes and civility and camaraderie. It’s a post about baseball and apple pie. My Dad was a very good baseball player. He was good enough to be named Outstanding Athlete his senior year at Indiana State and good enough to play semi-pro ball.

One of his younger friends was better. Dad coached him when he tried out for the Major Leagues. His friend left baseball and became famous for other reasons. His name was Birch Bayh. If you’re not from Indiana, that may not ring a bell. He represented Indiana as a Democratic Senator from 1963-1981 when he lost to a Republican, Dan Quayle.

My Dad liked Birch. I don’t know if he voted for him or not. Dad was a life-long Republican. I do know that he only had kind things to say about him. I guess what started me thinking about my Dad and Birch Bayh was an interview with Chuck Hagel, the retired Republican Senator from Nebraska. He said:

Gone from our political scene today are the World War II generation leaders. Now those were men and women, Democrats and Republicans, of significant character who always put America first. They didn’t put their parties first. They put America first. They understood their responsibility to help govern our country, find consensus on the big issues, solve the problems and move our country forward. They were never confused about that.

Dad is in the back row, center.

Birch’s son, Evan, became Indiana’s 46th Governor and then was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998 to the seat that was once held by his father. He chose not to run for a 3rd term and became a Fox News contributor in 2011. Yes, he’s a Democrat and yes, I did say Fox.

My Dad and Birch Bayh were Christmas card friends. Their card to us was always a family photo. Evan and I are just a year apart. I always had a  pretend crush on him. I looked at those Christmas cards a lot!

I never met the Bayh’s, but I recently read Evan’s reflections on the changes in the political climate in Washington between the time his Dad was first elected in 1963 and when Evan decided not to run again in 2011. Speaking of his Dad he said:

It really was a different generation. There was trust. There was camaraderie that people had forged together by casting tough political votes. My father’s first re-election was in 1968. You can’t imagine this today. The leader of the Republican caucus came up to my father on the floor of the Senate, put his arm around his shoulder and asked what he could do to help with his re-election. You would never see this today. That sense of camaraderie, of country first, it’s dissipated and our nation is suffering because of that.

Evan’s right. It’s just about impossible to imagine that happening today and that’s sad.

With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds. ~ Abraham Lincoln

What happens Wednesday morning is up to us. What if we take President Lincoln’s advice and begin to bind up the nation’s wounds? Maybe we can find our way back to camaraderie and civility? I don’t think we can wait for it to start in Washington. I think it’ll have to start with We, the People. It’s as American as baseball and apple pie.