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Posts Tagged ‘Yale’

Yesterday, Bob was outside the front door doing some weeding. Our raised bed of vegetables is on the south side of the house, not within the confines of our fenced-in garden. I was stringing a few pearls together in my first pandemic necklace when I heard him yell, “Honey, come here, quick.”

He told me all about the fat and healthy red fox that had just strolled around the front corner of the house under a holly bush. They were an arm’s length away from each other. Of course Bob saw him (or her) the very second his hand was pulling up a weed – as they locked eyes I’m sure they were both shocked! The fox immediately took off across our not/so/busy street and around an apartment building.

Imagine that, in a city of a million and a half people, nature can still find a way.

This is day #13 of quarantine. I’ve stopped watching the White House Pressers about the Coronavirus, they only serve to bolster Mr T’s fragile ego. He is selling us a fool’s paradise, and I for one am not buying his lies.

But I am crossing off the days on my old-fashioned paper calendar, eager to put each day behind me. Luckily Ms Bean requires a slow-walk each and every day, sometimes three! And now that the sun has returned and Spring has arrived, these meditative walks are a kind of salvation.

They are a way to still the noises in my head, all the “what ifs” and “if onlys.” A stroll around the neighborhood tethered to Ms Bean keeps me here, grounded in the Present. This morning, the sun has come up and the temperature will climb to 80 degrees. The rain has stopped for now. And while drinking coffee and reading my online papers, I noticed a tiny headline: “Yale Happiness Course Takes Off.”

It seems that since December, this online course titled “The Science of Well Being” has enrolled 1.3 million people worldwide. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52055242

Now, when over half a million people around the world are infected with the Coronavirus, and everyone is isolating themselves to flatten the curve, and the Bride is donning her PPE and caring for patients in her ER, and the Groom is planning to make ICU beds appear all over his hospital, and we can’t visit Great Grandma Ada and Hudson, and we can’t hug the Love Bug or tickle L’il Pumpkin…

Now more than ever, I have to keep hope alive.

“People in these situations tend to either look backwards for solutions or ruminate about possible futures: Will I go back to work? Will I be able to afford getting sick? Can I support my family if they get sick?

“While both those abilities are very adaptive in solving immediate problems or challenges or an immediate threat, they’re very harmful in situations like the one we’re in the middle of where the threat is ambiguous, the duration is unknown.”

It’s important to mention that only here, in the US, are people worried about hospital bills. Only here, in our great country, would someone not seek emergency medical treatment because they are afraid it would bankrupt them.

While waiting for the spike of this curve, we have to keep hope alive. And one way to do it is to stay in the PRESENT. Mindfulness isn’t easy during a pandemic. I notice every little flower on my walks, every flowering vine that threatens to engulf a mailbox. I would usually bring my phone with me, to take pictures, but it’s better if I leave it at home and stay present.

CONNECTING WITH OTHERS is another way to support our sanity. We’ve been Facetiming with the Rocker and Aunt KiKi. They have dueling desks set up in their California home and have had Zoom conferences with colleagues. The Bride turned me onto Marco Polo, an APP that’s like video texting, and we’ve been having fun with friends just capturing a snippet of time each day. Steve sent us video of a huge hawk in his yard yesterday! And of course, we talk on the phone too.

Yesterday we walked around the Bride’s neighborhood looking for teddy bears in windows. It was so hard to stay ten feet apart, to not touch the children.

The third linchpin of well being is a daily PRACTICE of GRATITUDE. Bob and I have been doing this on a pretty regular basis before bed. I can’t watch the news at night these days, but I can recall small pleasures during the day, things that bring me joy. Sometimes it’s just the sound of Ms Bean snoring, or a tulip that popped up under the cherry tree. Sometimes it’s the young man who delivers a restaurant meal. We can always name three things we’re grateful for.

Like the red fox foraging under the holly.

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Today is National Honesty Day, no joke. But it is ironic that the person who invented this “holiday” was the Press Secretary for an ex-Governor of Maryland, M Hirsh Goldberg. Just when Baltimore is looking for some answers from its police force and its mayor, we are forced to listen to the “truthiness” of political spin in the wake of Freddie Gray’s murder in police custody. And tomorrow won’t deliver any more answers. Makes you long for that French policeman after that German co-pilot plunged his jet into a mountain.

We couldn’t believe it, he was giving us the facts, and talking to us like adults.

But what if politicians did just start saying what they really thought? And then they needn’t apologize for it; today, Hillary and Jeb, tell us what you really think about the criminal justice system in our country. Explain to us why 98% of Black males in New York between the ages of 18 and 20 can expect some sort of interaction with the criminal justice system.

I’ve talked about UVA’s Miller Center before, but this latest American Forum titled “Arresting Citizenship: Consequences of American Crime Control” happened before Baltimore. http://millercenter.org/events/2015/arresting-citizenship-consequences-of-american-crime-control-rebroadcast

Yale University Assistant Prof of Political Science and African American Studies, Vesla M Weaver, spoke quite candidly about the decline of our democratic process in poor urban areas of the country. About how once misdemeanors a few decades ago have become felonies. About how people in these blighted neighborhoods have learned not to drive with more than two other Blacks in the car, since they will most likely be stopped by police. About how they must learn to avoid walking through certain streets since they may be targeted by police. About how they live day to day fenced inbetween a police station, a courthouse and a jail; a Bermuda triangle of poverty.

Weaver wrote a book that should be on the nightstand of every big city Mayor, and every Presidential candidate  – “Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control,” it explores the effects of increasing punishment and surveillance in America on democratic inclusion, particularly for the black urban poor.”

And every single person we interviewed in the book, their earliest encounter with the state, with the criminal justice state, was before the age of 15. Ok? So what they revealed to us what that maybe sometimes later on in their youth was that they had something more serious. But early on they’re coming to know the criminal justice system in a way that white suburban youth are not. You know, they’re going to basketball games, they’re going to high school. They’re not being stopped by police. Um so there’s been this disassociation between criminal population and the custodial population and it’s important to make that disaggregation because it’s very easy to say well you know they’ve done bad things right? Um many people in their adolescence, and if you go back to this longitudinal study that I mentioned 50% of the population reports doing something that could have landed them a misdemeanor or even a felony. Right? But a very small percentage of that group is actually having criminal justice contact.

When I saw the empty seats for the Baltimore Orioles baseball game, all I could think was, if you build a prison they will come. Speaking honestly just about breaks your heart   Unknown

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