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I Have Been There

As a child I loved to be first. I arrived last in my family order but rather in the middle of the grandchildren; nothing special. Always through school the teachers were confusing me with my siblings and making comparisons.

My siblings had great difficulty learning to read. I must be an idiot – savant because I was reading way ahead of my time and cognitively interpreting what I was reading, often ahead of the teachers. I could not understand or use numbers – there was no word for Dyscalcula – so I was labeled lazy.

And in second grade, I was labeled a liar for my writing and reading skill. I had to explain that in Graduate School.

pen and paper

I liked to go first to share my homework. Such as in Junior High I was instructed to write a poem that fit into a specific meter and phrasing. I did not understand the lesson and got the rhythm backward. By going first and having the kids laugh at my poem and the teacher explain the turn around, I was given a second chance to write the poem and thus get the better grade. I also got to listen to the other folk’s attempts and figure out it was the way “Casey at the Bat” was written and I had a working example.

I was making a choice to go first to show my enthusiasm for the subject and gain clarification and usually a second chance. In Math class, I lived in fear of being called upon and that laughter was instructive in a different way.

The 10 years I was in Girl Scouts I was never elected to an office. I really did not care, even though it was hurtful, because I loved learning all the skills and about nature and camping. There was a balance.

My parents were Immigrants and foreigners. I was born in the USA. We were not numerous enough to have individual groups or colonies so the Italians, Israelis’, Africans, English, Canadians, Germans, Swedes and Asian folks gathered together as friends and extended families. We had our disagreements and we celebrated our diversity. It was a learning soup.

And I could sing.

Every year of college I experienced a Professor who wanted to “take me on”. Mostly I had to endure some kind of humiliation and then when I acknowledged this action, I was set free with the lecture that this was an important life lesson they had given me.

Probably was.

In Graduate school, being one of the first was a night mare. I lay low and just kept moving through the system. I am indebted to the one BLACK professor who took me aside and gave me dozens of books on black history and literature to read and then let me talk to him for hours about what I was learning and understanding.

Being first in my first church, which was liberal and educated and way ahead of others in taking on Buddhist teachings and issues of Gay Rights, it was a daily battle to keep on keeping on. Several set up their verbal children to make attacks during my leading of worship. Undercover many wrote letters to my LEADER that I was just not smart enough to work with this group of people. The Grand Pooh bah of the Church called me a “Bitch” in meetings and sent others to participate in my Ordination -he did not want to lend his authority.

Other women were in competition and attempting to hold their own.

My years in the Southern part of the United States, I saw classism and racism out in the open and right before my very eyes. On voter registration days, I saw a friend being set upon by dogs.

I heard Anita Hill at the Confirmation Hearings for Justice Thomas. I believed her and still do.

I see ageism and I recognize it – inside first.

My youngest child still wishes she was blond haired and blue eyed – daily. Though her Hispanic friend is helping my child to like herself just as she is today; I am grateful.

The speech to the children at the start of school was like a warning siren. Blogger for Hire at Mom Grind wrote about it…

I do not care who you are and what power you perceive you have, you make only one point when you are rude, noisy, and inappropriate in your behavior – you are ignorant. The President of the United States spoke to the Congress and to the people last night and I am ashamed by the inappropriate behavior and tactical maneuvering to humiliate and belittle The President and The Office.

I am not the first to say so and I believe I will not be the last. No apology is big enough to undo the nasty behavior you displayed last evening – your behavior was disgusting and reprehensible.

The good news is probably most of the folks in your rude camp were tuned into a ball game and couldn’t waste time on a speech and that I am sure smart parents of every persuasion are teaching their children about respect, decent behaviors, and how horrible people can be one to another. We seem to be getting a great many opportunities these days to explain to our children.

I have been there. I saw my local representative in the group being disgusting and rude, I know he will never read this, but I understand he had over 4,000 emails and faxes this morning from local people demanding a public apology! I wrote to him myself.

What do you wish to teach your children? Do you understand what is going on? Have you been there?

It is such an opportunity to teach and learn.

Related posts:
If You Have Not Anything Nice To Say Then Do Not Say Anything At All
To Be Of Use
12 Reasons I want People to Read This Book

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18 Responses to “I Have Been There”

  1. Dot Says:

    I’m sorry you went through those experiences, Patricia, although it sounds like you were already intelligent and resourceful as a child. It’s too bad you didn’t get some of the benefits of being “the baby” in the family order.

    Why are Americans so intolerant and judgmental? I wonder if, to some extent, it isn’t a result of the nature of the country itself. It was founded by a group of people escaping nitolerance, but they were willing to massacre the existing residents in order to establish their own community.

    Once the existing residents were nearly extinguished and the immigrants had claimed power, waves of new immigrants began coming here from similar circumstances or poverty or injustice in other places in the world.

    It seems each layer of “older” residents treated the “newer” residents as interlopers and hated them, until eventually they were assimilated. Then the process began again, with the newly assimilated being the “older” residents.

    While some resistance, anger, resentment towards new people with different cultures is to be expected, I don’t understand where the hatred came from, except that the original settlers claimed a land of incredible bounty and beauty, and they did so through murder.

    Is it human nature? Throughout the world we often see hatred and war wherever there are two or more cultures living together.

  2. Talon Says:

    Wonderful post, Patricia. I’m sorry you had to go through what you did and it’s trite to say that the humiliations and the hurts helped to make you the strong, compassionate woman you are today, but it’s true.

    I’ve heard about the backlash on President Obama’s speech and it truly doesn’t surprise me because there are always individuals that will tear down anything that they perceive as being built up too high.

    It truly is an opportunity to teach children – to teach adults – respect for themselves and others, but I doubt those that need the lesson will ever be in that particular classroom of life lessons.

  3. Patricia Says:

    Dot,
    I am grateful for your excellent comments – I think my experiences helped to make me wiser and more aware, so I could be a better parent to my Asian heritage child.

    I am specifically referring to the GOP Senators and Representatives who were heckling the President of the USA during his opening speech to the joint sessions of Congress this past week. That was blatant bar room behavior meant to publicly ridicule the President and his message. After the speech they can talk about what happened all they want, but it is only disrespectful to condone that kind of behavior during a formal speech….Who let Rush Limbaugh’s behavior on to the floor?
    The Minority Leadership got rebuttal time on TV also…why were they not prepared?
    I have some problems with the message too – I as a citizen wrote right away to my Senators and Representative. I am proud that nearly 4,000 of my neighbors thought one of our State Reps. behaviors was so reprehensible that they emailed or faxed his office.

    My point of worry is that they are working to rile up someone so mentally ill that they will take a gun and attempt assassination – that would be such a good way to solve our nations problems!

    I have heard noisy discussions in several countries during debate, but during a formal speech they do not heckle the leader unless they are working to degrade the office.

    I am assuming these folks were drunk and disorderly and wonder why their states would send such clouts to govern?

  4. Patricia Says:

    Talon,
    All these experience have made up who I am and what I see as important.

    I now know that health care reform does not matter in the least to our leaders and that the citizens need to get some education on this matter – I am not willing to return to serfdom.

    Citizens gave away their voice for a lot of BLING – It is a very deep issue, but just look at how it turned out for Native Americans as Dot points out above.

    This group of MEN publicly declared their war against the citizens of the US in their banter – they are escalating the language to disrespect levels and they are pulling the plug on granny and sick babies and deciding who should get health care and it will only be for the wealthy who can pay for it and the chosen followers. This is an extremely scary game…has been played out all through out history…
    disregard for the office and the constitution is all over this.

    Our ignorance is showing and I want to call out a warning

  5. sanjay mehra Says:

    Sad you hear your experiences as a child. But agree with you that Senators need to behave themselves during a formal speech by the President.
    I live in a country where parliament members routinely misbehave and heckle during formal speeches by the prime minister or even the president. I can well see the effects of this bad behaviour in our polity overall.
    You are so right. If you don’t have anything nice to say, and can’t say it nicely, then don’t say it. It will do less damage.

  6. patricia Says:

    sanjay mehra,
    Welcome to the blog and thank you for your much appreciated comments.
    I think my experiences as a child and student were there to teach me how to see and to give me strength. They did just that and to be different is very important to me now as I teach my children to be in their society.

    There is a reason for social normative s in behavior and a reason for people to be disruptive of those norms. These comments were a signal of warning and a purposeful sign of disrespect and then the timing made them like spitting on Office also – there was a time and place for the rebuttal and for the disagreement – but what they did was just “gutter” behavior.

    I have seen a respectful communicator take death threats being hurled at him and create peace. I think the louder the protests the more hurt involved…
    these are people who only think themselves hurt – they are very dangerous.

  7. BunnygotBlog Says:

    The life experiences we have may be unfair but make us stronger in the end.

    It is hard on many of the children who just got pushed through the system without a true benefit of guidance and a privileged of a good education. Some are not as willful as you were to learn on your own.

    This is a touching article. I thank you for sharing your experiences.

  8. Jannie Funster Says:

    Hey Patricia,

    The way you were treated in your own church shocks me. I wonder what those people were so afraid of?

    I teach my child that the people know better than government agencies what’s best for them, especially in matters of business and economic prosperity.

    And remind her that when we judge people we leave no room for loving them, something Mother Theresa said.

  9. Patricia Says:

    Bunny,
    I often say to myself that I must speak out because if folks don’t know something they do not know how to respond to it. I am trying to say here that this is active “hate” right before your eyes – see this so you can recognize it for what it is and then be aware the next time ….Know and learn how to respond. Like Eleanor Roosevelt!

    We talk about Bullying all the time – this was bullying by so called “winners” in our society. Many would say it was just political strategy – everybody does it! That is modifying the behavior – making it normative. I would say this is a public lynching and these folks are closed/rigid and the citizens do not matter at all. I would not have said anything or written this post except it was a moment to teach and share.

    Jannie,
    Good lessons to teach your child – if you are not open to learning something new you are closed down. Who wants a Representative or Senator who is closed to learning and spewing hate and disrespect?

    Many many churches were the last male bastion of local control – the guys were afraid of women entering the field and the unknown – now 52% of all students in Seminary are women!
    I was able to learn from this experience and helped to set guidelines which would assist blending and diversity of talents in the future.

    There were only 11 women in Seminary and 750 men when I entered. 9 women had some form of nervous breakthrough – most of my male colleagues left when Nixon abolished the draft.

    A large potion of my Call to Ordination is Community Service – I have to be aware and learning all the time.

  10. patricia Says:

    test comment to see if we can get commentluv working again…

  11. Cath Lawson Says:

    Hi Patricia – I’ll never understand why so many people can go to church each week and still be so hateful.

    I also read about the Obama speech on Momgrind. It makes you wonder what those people who kept their kids from school actually want them to learn.

  12. J.D. Meier Says:

    > I was given a second chance to write the poem and thus get the better grade.
    I liked how you turned the situation around. Try and try again is a recipe for success.

  13. Patricia Says:

    Cath,
    A number of people believe that there is only one answer and one person they trust to deliver it. 83% of the people in Arkansas believe Rush Limbaugh’s words are truth and that our President is a Muslim, Nazi, fascists according to TIME Magazine this week – it takes some folks several life times to figure life out – the other’s just need to figure out ways to educate or be patient.
    One reason I became a clergy person is that my particular church is so open and affirming and accepting of diversity, but there is always the first test case which is often scary.
    So nice to find you here – thank you for coming by. I still have your Jannie CD for you

    JD
    thank you – learn the lesson is also a good combination threat!

  14. Robin Says:

    Actually Patricia – I think you would be astounded by the language our Australian politicians use – they have developed insults and interruptions to an artform. They only do it in parliament – not outside. It’s incredible!

  15. Patricia Says:

    Robin,
    I have seen many Parliaments in action and I have witness congress here in person and see the Korean fighters on the news!
    This was a formal speech by the President of the USA – this was not a debate or discussion speech.

    To see folks giving the “finger”, doing things on the PDA and then shouting out truly just showed the citizens what a bunch of “closed minded” people are attempting to bully a decision. So far I think the only place it is working is in Arkansas’

    People need to do their homework on this one and take responsibility themselves and not give over to the baffoons

  16. Jannie Funster Says:

    Ahh, that must seem like another lifetime, your seminary years and ministership. (I know ministership is not even a real word.) So many changes since. So many taco salads and lemonades ago. So many walks around the lake have passed.

    We are right where we need to be at any given moment, the sages say. I like this moment!

    Except my shoe strap broke, boo hoo. On my wedge heels, my one and only pair.

  17. Patricia Says:

    Jannie,
    I like the present moment too….I realized I was being too quiet and the club was being too noisy…..Since 73% of American Women believe in Canadian and UK health care systems I thought some of us should start letting the other’s know were are out here.

    I can only say:”Where is Joe Wilson’s Mother? And what is wrong with her and his wife?” It took the congress to let him know that he was rude……and out of order.

    He just thinks he is being targeted and made an example – Duh! yes!

    I am hoping some other mother’s are going to step up and say bullying and rudeness is not what we want to see in our members of Congress.

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