Are Closed Borders Opening Minds?

Border collie contemplating the other side

Interesting that the greatest power to reducing the spread of the coronavirus and death count, is closing borders (and our doors). Heated protests over border crossings are quieter now. Political correctness pummeled common sense yet it is our greatest individual defense against the virus. I usually don’t express political opinions on the internet because they invite divisiveness and animosity but the border issue has crossed from political debate to protective measures — for all of humanity.

Ethnology is Not a Dirty Word

A one-worlder I am not. Call me a global admirer instead. I celebrate all differences from skin color to climate and believe there is a reason the world and its peoples are diverse, that we should not become blindly and blandly homogenized as some promote. Naturally occurring distinctions in our human race (and nature for that matter) are colorful and lively yet some sadly choose to view them with discrimination or hate.

The Yin and Yang of Humanity

Interacting with people of various cultures is educational, fun and fascinating. The ability to choose an authentic Japanese, Italian, Polish, Indian, or Jamaican meal nearby is a treat. Friends frequently gather at the Tai restaurant, and the Afro-American stand with background Motown beat offers the tastiest ribs in town. I revere the Chinese acupuncturist and Native American healer, and I’m pleased to refer customers to the sanguine Mexican cabinet and granite supplier. The savoir faire of these ethnic groups cultivated enriching relationships with the communities who welcomed them; they continue to flourish through common courtesy.

However, in the last so many years, I’ve increasingly observed non-English speaking immigrants rummaging through items on store shelves then tossing them on the floor, dumping trash on our once pristine streets rather than in nearby bins, and blasting music all night so that residents are exhausted going to work. Such disrespect — whether from citizen, immigrant or illegal — is not welcomed. Seeing others break laws that we abide by breeds discontent. Disrespect creates tension, not our inherent diversities.

And yet, isn’t the pandemic revealing the yin and yang of all of humanity as evidenced through stories of incredible kindness and some of the most unimaginably ugly behavior?

Respect – A Small Word with Huge Impact

Black and white sign set on stone indicating "Please respect our neighbours'"
Original photo by Kai Brame on Unsplash

Simply respecting each other could eliminate the need for thought police tactics and political correctness. On today’s terms this means self-quarantining to not recklessly endanger others, or not persecuting Asians because the virus originated in Wuhan.

Peeling Off Political Correctness

But, intentionally calling the virus something other than it is just to be politically correct, is senseless to me. To understand and learn about something is to identify it. I want to know, for instance, that Roquefort cheese is from France or that the corona virus originated in China. Being politically correct by omitting information or changing terms is unclear and keeps people in the dark. My reasoning is not to blame but to understand.

Father holding sign to think again while child holds onto his arm in a city street
Original photo by Jose Moreno on Unsplash

While the numbers escalate too rapidly to report here, California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Oregon are in the top states with the most coronavirus infections. These states are also sanctuary states hosting sanctuary cities which are rampant with the virus.

I do not support sanctuary cities but I support respect and common sense. If illegal immigrants do not understand the language, how will they follow safety protocols? If they are afraid to seek testing or treatment, how much farther will the virus spread? I do not support illegal immigration (or calling it undocumented to misrepresent the truth) but I do welcome immigrants who will contribute to the land where they have immigrated and who honor that country’s culture, citizens, laws, environment and communities.

Street art depicting a black man with the commentary "...Why don't we boycott killing each other?"
Original photo by Pieter van de Sande on Unsplash

Ignorance is the Culprit, Not Differences

Immigration is a passionate topic worldwide. Will the coronavirus’ mandate to close borders lessen the tension? Will common sense be restored by survivors of this pandemic?

If the politically correct term for old school is common sense, so be it. My term for politically correct is ignorance. As expressed in previous posts, I believe smart aka dumb phones have paradoxically proliferated ignorance. The injustice is not from identifying the difference but when hate or fear are attached to dissimilarity. Differences do not mean inequality to me. I respect borders with an open mind.

Photo of black/white border collie and brown/white husky side by side
Original photo by Tereza Rubá on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

Nature Teacher: Coexisting

Billions of snowflakes

grace the air

together.

Like fingerprints,

no two are alike.

Separate

characteristics, individual traits,

attributes

make each one

unique.

Original.

Yet they all share

one Source

and peacefully coexist.

One

is no better than the other.

Different, but equal,

is perfectly natural.

 

The Cherokee Knew

Hand holding a crystal globe with upside down view of the world

A fellow blogger’s post reminded me of a pondering earlier this week.

While I am a spiritual person, I haven’t joined an organized religion for decades. Listening to others, some are dogmatically committed to one and only one belief system — declaring their way is right and the only way. It may be right for them, I agree, but it doesn’t mean it is right for me.


The Cherokee name is based on the meaning “people of different speech.” Could that include thought and opinion as well?


Hearing a close friend express her strong opinions (without knowing they opposed mine) stung. But, for one moment only. Because in valuing the qualities of our friendship more than opinions, I felt love for my friend, not anger or resentment.   

The same holds true when I hear discourse among various religious groups.

To me, the identic message is simply presented in varying ways and on varying paths all leading to a preferred destination — call it Heaven, enlightenment, living consciously, or a spiritual awakening per se’…even if it’s just a belief system or developing faith. Even if the path chosen changes tomorrow, the message is basically the same.


 Be inclusive. Find the shared good.


People connect with God, the Universe, Buddha, the Tao, or other powers greater than themselves. One size doesn’t fit all, and I find value in each. I hear the common themes yet also see invidious power and exclusivity when one is proclaimed as right or the better way…different somehow.

I grew up in an era of healthy debates. Where one could find mutual ground. Today I question “where do I wish to focus — on differences or commonalities? What feels better — emotionally, mentally, physically? If being inclusive and finding common good should feel better, why is mankind’s history peppered with discord? Does the world tip its scales in feeding one wolf more than the other? Do we choose to see thorns or roses? Is agreeing to disagree now passe’?”

Tilted astrological globe
Photo by Anastasia Dulgier on Unsplash

Feature Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Nature Teacher: We may be One but We are Not the Same

Red ripened and green beefsteak tomatoes on the vine

Gardening teaches me so much about living life. Besides providing quiet time to regenerate, and avoid constant interruptions of marketing ploys or messages that can wait, gardening offers opportunities to look more deeply into life.

tomatoes 8-9-19 015Stepping into the tomato patch today, I notice some are ripened red, some still green, some are somewhere along the way. Brighter, faster, bigger, smaller, slower — each is on its own natural path. Some are still hanging on, some have fallen, others have reached their potential, or are late bloomers. Each embodies the same components — vine, skin, flesh, seeds, juice — but they are not exactly the same. I do not understand why current culture insists humans must have the same thoughts, feelings, sensitivities, and opinions, that to be one we cannot be unalike.

We are a universe of red, white, brown, tan, black, tall, short, thin, plump beings, with indigenous dialects and languages, who think diverse thoughts, eat different foods, live in disparate climates, etc., etc., etc. Yet the Thought Police want to neutralize our inherent differences, insisting we cannot think independently, that our beliefs, words and opinions must all conform.  Consider this:

Yellow and green cocktail tomatoes on the vine
Photo by satynek from Pixabay

An unripened tomato is not the same as a ripened one, not in color, size, taste or maturity. Similarly, a beefsteak tomato is not a cocktail tomato or a plum tomato or cherry tomato or tomato of any other name. I cannot force it to be what it is not. Some are blemished, some appear perfect on the surface, some may be rotten inside but I accept and work with each as is.

Instead of denigrating others for being who they are, or demanding an unrealistic homegeneity, a more equitable approach is through mutual respect — something greatly overshadowed anymore by stratospheric sensitivities. Now I am an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) but I honor individuality. Can culture shift its caliginous restraints on our genuine differences?

Various stages of ripened and unripened cherry tomatoes
Photo by jggrz from Pixabay

Over 15,000 varieties of tomatoes exist throughout our world in every shade of red, burgundy, pink, purple, orange, yellow, green, almost black, even streaked and striped. Numerous flavors range from tasty sweet to tart or well-balanced. I think it’s safe to say some prefer one type over another. There is nothing wrong with that. Each has its own comfort zone for thriving, and some are more versatile than others. Distinct qualities are refreshing. As with the human race. I don’t want to have just cherry tomatoes. Do you?

Varieties of tomatoes - red beefsteak, heirloom, yellow cherry, purple, green, striped and blemished
Photo by jggrz from Pixabay

 

Poinsettia Miracles

flower-1829706_1920 pointsettia

Starring the close of each year and darkest, darkest night, the Poinsettia’s striking winter appearance hails worldwide wishes of generosity and good cheer.

A Plant of Many Miracles…

Love

Rooted around miracles and the power of love, Mexican legend paints a heartwarming story around the Poinsettia.  While details vary, it’s essentially about a meager child having nothing to offer the baby Jesus except some roadside weeds. Once placed on the Christmas Eve altar, however, they miraculously transformed into brilliant red and green flowers.  Can you imagine witnessing the unfolding of such beauty, like the ugly duckling turned swan, or springtime buds bursting into bloom?  You know, it’s how your heart feels when overflowing with love.  How you feel when giving (or receiving) from the heart.

Abundance

Exemplifying the giving season, Poinsettias achieved stardom once sold under the botanical name Euphorbia Pulcherrima.  Nearly 70 million plants now sell from Thanksgiving to Christmas, generating $250 million in sales.

poinsettia-210023_1280

Diversity and Individuality

The Poinsettia garners its name for world traveler, botanist and diplomat, Joel Roberts Poinsett. He introduced the plant to the U.S. in the early 1800s after falling in love with it near Taxco Mexico.

Today, more than 100 varieties of Poinsettias range from burgundy to red, salmon to apricot, yellow to cream and white, and solid to marbled, not to mention the dyed blue and purple ones or those speckled with glitter.

 

The United States commemorates December 12th, the date of Poinsett’s death, as National Poinsettia Day.

Care

As much as I love gardening, and can rarely bear discarding any broken plant stems  (several cuttings are rooting on my windowsill now), I admit I never gave Poinsettia’s their proper care.  Sure, I didn’t toss them  after the holidays when their bracts (often called flowers) fell, and a few hung around awhile as green house plants, but I didn’t keep them in total darkness so they would turn red for the holidays next year — a process Certified Nursery Consultant, Rick LaVasseur calls photoperiodism.  A process I call a miracle if I remember to do it.

poinsettia-1841877_1280 white speckled

Spirituality

Also known as the Christmas Eve Flower or Flowers of the Holy Night, some Christians symbolize the plant’s shape as the Star of Bethlehem which guided the Wise Men to Jesus, and the red color as the blood of Christ.

The meaning of the Pointsettia reflects standard Christmas and New Year wishes for Joy, Love and Hope – my universal wish for the coming year.

God gave me a memory so that I may have roses in December.  But, I have the Poinsettia too.

pointsettia

 

Feeling Awkward Around Young Kids?

Reading a snippet about feeling awkward around kids reaffirmed there is nothing wrong with those who feel uncomfortable around children.   Perhaps you have no experience with kids.  Does your gut groan around pre-adolescents…looking for what to say?  Have you purposely chosen to not father children but instead protectively care for plants, pets, or a project benefiting the planet?

Rather than judge or condemn, I respect those who live authentically.  One size does not fit all.  We are not meant to be experts at everything; some are better at some things than others, and sustaining that diversity honors all life.   I respect individuality but believe all of us need nurturing in whatever form it may be as evidenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s sentiments:

Emerson

My joy is in a serene garden and when helping others.  Over three decades, I have created three-season flowering gardens, beautiful landscaping for the natural environment, and deliciously fresh organic vegetables and herbs.  It’s hard to say who was more nurtured in these activities — the plants or me — but, assuredly, the benefits were far-reaching.


Fathering is “to treat with protective care.”

What are you fathering?


 

 

Diversity: The Color of Life

Coming into the house, after what appears to be the last unseasonably warm October day, I glimpsed again at the magnificent colors punctuating the grey cloudy sky — burgundy flowering plums, orange maples, yellow-green birches, tanned leather oaks, fiery red sassafras — their leaves twirling in the wind then freckling the autumn ground.

 

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Curious, I look closer.

 

 

Round, oval, small, huge, striped, speckled, smooth, crimped, crumpled and curled.

 

Each one is distinctly beautiful in its own unique way.

 

I am convinced we were created to be different and our diversity is as fascinating as nature’s endless combinations.

10-25-17 055 tan and brown leaf couple

 

 

It is man who tied hatred to diversity. 10-24-17-leaves-114-heart-leaf.jpg

Not nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friends of Different Feathers

These guys (or gals) don’t look alike but they respectfully share from the same feeder, while happily chirping away.  People could learn a lot from them.

Friends
Cardinal and Chickadee

I learned a lot from Jamaicans when visiting their homeland.  Most Americans warned me ahead of time to “not go off the resort premises,” but strolling down the beach while mesmerized by the turquoise sea drew my curiosity beyond the boundary line. Haphazard tin-roofed shacks from whatever washed ashore leaned every which way — a yin-yang contrast to the well-manicured all-inclusive that was my home for 7 days.

The Jamaican Patois (pronounced Patwa) beckoned me into the makeshift beach mall.  My ear took some getting used to their creole language but I appreciated the creative twist on english.   In and out, I scanned the line of booths sand to ceiling but most of the wares were tchotchkes made in China that I could purchase in my hometown dollar store.  Still, each proprietor smiled widely while proclaiming, “Tank yuh.  Tank you fi looking. Tank you fi di respect.”

100_1735 Smile Pay Close Up
Shop #12:  The more you smile, the less you pay

Most Jamaicans live in poverty.  Tourism, music or selling drugs sadly seem to be the major opportunities to increase their standard of living.  I’ve had panhandlers in other countries follow me into the water ruining an afternoon swim, or camp out just beyond the garden patio, calling for me to buy their goods.  (One couple from Manhattan quit their Grenada vacation early, stating, “The panhandling isn’t this bad at home.  We came here to relax…”) But, Jamaica was different.   The people spoke to my heart and I quickly understood a universal desire for respect.

“I love your food.  The Jamaican Jerk is delicious…nothing like back home,” I shared with the merchants.  “I’ve been listening to a lot of your music on MTV in my room.  I never knew there are so many types of Reggae.  Do you have Tanya Stephens or Beris Hammond? I’d love to take some CDs home,” I explained to the last few shopkeepers.  (Yes, I’m of the generation that still listens to an armoire full of CDs.  Just another segment of my staving off technology.)

Walking back to the resort, a young Jamaican boy ran down the hill toward me, waving his arms.  “Yuh di lady looking fi music?” he asked, showing me a handful of CDs.

“Well, yes I am.  What do you have there?”  The jewel cases sported homemade labels depicting the very artists I inquired about.  We exchanged smiles as I paid him then crossed the boundary line to the resort.

That night, I watched a Jamaican grandmother teach her granddaughter the art of basket weaving while a Rastafari man let me listen through his headphones to other Jamaican musicians I might like.  The next day, the little boy made me nearly a dozen more CDs which I carefully wrapped in the intricately hand-woven two-toned basket for my travels home.

For me, the best souvenir is a meaningful piece of culture.  The best vacation is connecting with natives of the homeland.  I travel to experience diversity.  Maybe that’s what the cardinals and chickadees do too.

It’s all a matter of respect.

Caribbean_general_map Some less respectful tidbits  about Jamaica…

Don’t refer to a Rastafari as a “rastafarian” as they connect “ians” and “isms” to oppression.  Likewise, referring to their philosophy as a “religion” or “ism” is against their beliefs.

Dudus (Christopher Michael) Coke led the violent Shower Posse drug gang that exported marijuana and cocaine to the United States.  In 1992 he took over his deceased father’s position as leader of the Tivoli Gardens community in West Kingston.  Providing programs to help the poor community garnered him so much local support that Jamaican police could not enter this neighborhood without community consent.