Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Waiting at the Crossroads

Have you ever noticed how often lines of thought converge in your daily life? You may be reading a book at noon, and a conversation you have that evening corresponds with, or emphasizes the very topic you read. Or, you hear a song on the radio, and later watch a show that expands on the same concept. Ideas intersect daily, as if some outside force was placing an exclamation point on a thought that’s bouncing around inside your head. I love when that happens.

I have been studying the War for Independence, and just finished a book about slavery during the revolution. According to this book, the Southern war was a brutal competition between the British who wanted to maintain supremacy (read: economic benefits), the southern colonials who wanted to retain their property (read: slaves who facilitated economic benefits), and the slaves who wanted the freedom to pursue their own economic benefits – and walk down the road without a hall pass.

Then I read this article about a 106 year-old woman (she reminds me of my Great Aunt, Annie Belle Miller) who says, “I ain’t got time to die.” Ann Nixon Cooper is waiting to see Barack Obama elected to the Presidency. Mrs. Cooper remembers when neither women nor African Americans were permitted to vote, let alone run for office. She has taken advantage of early voting in Atlanta, and now waits.

I am reminded that a hundred years is not that far into the long ago. Less than a hundred years ago, women lived at the mercy of their husbands, fathers and brothers. Two hundred years is only a hair longer in the wide swathe of human history. Two hundred years ago, race was used as an excuse to enslave, chain, kidnap, and murder human beings. The lucky ones were merely exploited for economic gain, and told that servitude was their righteous part in God’s plan. Women, African Americans, Native Americans and anyone else who did not fit into the incredibly narrow definition of “citizen” were blatantly excluded from the pursuit of freedom. Rights? Certainly not! Voting? Get back to work!

Years roll by. The times have changed. We have changed. Through pain and love, through war and patience, we have changed.

Haven’t we?

Ann Nixon Cooper waits to see the day.

8 comments:

Esther said...

I think mankind forgets too easily the troubles and the tragedies that have recently been. It wasn't that long ago that women didn't have any rights, racism was accepted, Africa was colonized, the Holocaust was in full bloom etc... I think it's healthy to remind ourselves so that we don't take all the good stuff for granted. Good luck with your elections now and may the best man win! That said, I'd better get back to aid politics again - there's so much of that going on these days!

Warm greetings from West Africa!
Esther

Lori Skoog said...

Fe...glad to see a new and great post. May Ann Nixon Cooper see the day. Don't you love Esther and her Journal?
Lori

Esther said...

Lol!

Spartacus Jones said...

That's a good perspective.


sj

rebecca said...

we have despite the racism that is still evident; we haven't when we see other countries where women and people of a "different" color are not granted basic human rights because of who they are. yet, despite this, i agree, at least in this country we've progressed (though we still have a ways to go).

as far as ann nixon cooper, what an exciting time for her this must be....to have witnessed so much history in her lifetime. and i hope she gets to see obama in the white house before she leaves this earth.

great posting as usual Fe.

CoyoteFe said...

Esther -

Yes indeed. It is so easy to keep moving forward, ignore the past, and keep making the same mistakes. Is it the same in aid politics?

Lori -
Esther Garvey's Ishtar News blog is, indeed, wonderul!


Spartacus Jones -
I wish we would pay more attention to our elder voices. It's one thing to want to plow one's own road, but quite another to ignore the old man on the side of the road who is pointing out the gully.


Rebecca -
I would love it if both Ann Nixon Cooper and Barack's grandmother lived to see the day.

Esther said...

I think the problem with aid politics is that the "politics" part hasn't been acknowledged yet, the good is being high-jacked for other purposes. But as will all things, most people don't like the truth if it's too raw or too full of scruples, and I think that's why we tend to "forget" so easily. We don't want our view to be uncomfortable.

But life is what it is. Politics and aid and poverty and individual kindness. It's all there. I just prefer to see things for what they are and know what when I do stumble upon a beautiful story, it's the non-edited beautiful story without the makeup :-)

CoyoteFe said...

Wow!, Esther!

"I just prefer to see things for what they are and know what when I do stumble upon a beautiful story, it's the non-edited beautiful story without the makeup"

Well said!