How Divided Are We?

  • I’m not sure how this post is going to go over. But it is a topic I have been thinking about for months. I sincerely believe my viewpoints on this topic are pretty center of the road, but I guess I will find out if I am right or wrong. I don’t discuss politics as it is personal, but I will discuss my belief in our Democracy and the future of our nation, so here goes…..

For many months, we have heard how divided our nation is. How we are entrenched into one side or the other and with an election that just split at almost 50/50 from the outside one would think this is true. But, is it true? Are we as Americans so divided that our commonality is gone?

I contend that “We The People” really aren’t as split as some want to portray us to be. I do however think that we have allowed the fringe of each party to overtake our nation, ensuring that our separations fester.

On one side we have the AOC’s, Bernie Sanders & Nancy Pelosi’s of the world. On the other we have the Mitch McConnell’s, Matt Gaetz’s and Rand Paul’s of the world.

We pit the MSNBC, FOX, AON & CNN viewpoints against each other from the fringe.

But if you think about it, what do these politicians on the fringe and the media all have in common? Money and power.

The media knows these fringe politicians best friend is a TV camera attached to a microphone and can always be counted on for a wacky sound-bite. The media is always willing to give them air-time because it helps further their message, helps hook viewers and makes the media more money.

These politicians know that every time they get in front of a camera it gives them more power, which in turn brings more money into their own coffers.

TV time, fringe politicians, media access and camera time equals money and power. See the problem?

So as I think about some of the issues that supposedly tear us apart, I honestly think that the majority of Americans share much more in common in our beliefs than the media and the fringe politicians want us to believe.

The First Amendment gives us all the right to Free Speech. This Free Speech includes the right to express our opinions through protests; however, does anyone support the rights of people to burn and loot communities or show up at polling locations to intimidate people casting their votes or threatening to kidnap Governors of States that some disagree with? I doubt the majority of Americans agree with any of this, but the fringe from each party digs their heels in, gets in front of sympathetic cameras and makes it seem like we aren’t united in these opinions.

The Second Amendment. Again, I don’t know anyone who wants to take away anyone’s guns. However, if you listen to the political fringes you are going to hear that one side wants to outlaw them and the other side wants us all to have a cache in our homes that can take out a small country. Truth be told, I think most of us believe that we are all entitled to have a gun in our homes, but no one should have the ability to walk into a classroom and shoot up a room full of 2nd graders. Who profits and gains power from this misinformation?

Let’s talk immigration. Every single person reading this is a descendent of immigrants, those immigrants built America. I think we would all agree that the majority of us, are fine with LEGAL immigration. I don’t know anyone who wants to close the borders to everyone, nor do I know anyone who wants to open them up and let anyone and everyone flood into the country, but again, we are separated by the fringe that pits our sensible immigration beliefs from each end of the spectrum.

Have I made my point yet? You see, if We The People were in-power, we would find more commonality than difference. Of course, we would have differences, but I am convinced we would work-out a common ground where we all give a bit and take a bit for solutions that can move us forward.

Where did we lose our power to these fringe extremes, one simple word can sum it up…. apathy. The American people have allowed this division to happen on our watch by not keeping a check on our elected officials and media. I’m old enough to remember when the media and those who represented us in DC could be trusted. Sadly, it seems those days have passed. There’s an old adage, what’s the definition of insanity…. doing the same thing over and over again.

We have allowed insanity to take over our nation in our politics and media. As long as we continue to send the same people back to Washington DC over and over again we will continue to see the same results. And if we continue to support “our” media choice without holding their feet to the fire for truth and not idealology, we are the problem.

America isn’t as divided as some want us to believe. Sure there will always be issues that we will disagree on, but for the most part, we are all on the same side. We want to live in a safe America where every citizen is respected, where we remain a beacon to the world and where the rights of every citizen is honored. We want to be an America that makes life better for the generations to come, where each and every American has the opportunity to surpass the dreams and expectations of those who came before us and where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is available to us all.

I think it’s time that we the people start showing up and letting the fringes know they don’t represent us. We seek common ground with cooperation. It’s time that we the people let the those who want to divide us know that they don’t represent the ideals that built America.

The next time you see, read or hear someone from the fringe, on either side, spewing their hate, think about it. Who gains both financially and in power with those hate filled words? The answer is simple, the ones who benefit are those who gain wealth and power, the media, social media and politicians.

We the people deserve better, but we the people need to take our role back and hold the purveyors of fringe thinking accountable. Vote them out, tune them out and let’s move on as Americans.

Deep Roots, Deeper Memories…

Every family has one, the spot where photos are taken to capture those special moments in life.

For my family, it was a camellia bush located just outside our garage. In a small triangular shaped flower bed formed at the angle of our driveway and an outside storage closet.

When we moved into our house, mama had planted the small bush and through the years it grew and blossomed. Most years, vibrant pink blooms would appear each year around Christmas. Mama never missed a chance to proudly state “my camellias are in bloom.”

A single blossom would center the table for our Christmas Eve dinners and my brother Tom’s grave would get one too.

I think for mama, her camellia bush marked the passage of time, from one year to the next. I think she probably looked on those flowers and remembered what had come and gone through the years of our families life.

Over the years, the camellia bush was our picture backdrop for birthdays, first days of school, graduations, the arrival of grand-children, Easter pics, Halloween costumes, off to college photos and every other occasion worth “remembering.” Whether in bloom or not, the camellia bush, was our go to spot.

When my parents died, my niece Chelsea moved into my childhood home. As her family has expanded, she has kept the tradition of pics in front of the camellia bush going.

Photos of Chelsea and her now husband Brett and then their daughters Jaydynn and Hadley are now marked at the same spot where some of the first photos of her were taken.

This year, Chelsea and Brett have started a total remodel of the family home. A needed expansion and modernization of the house has begun to make it perfect for them.

As Chelsea began her remodel, it became painfully obvious that the camellia bush was in the way. Through numerous redesigns and plans, nothing changed, that camellia had to go.

I think as she planned, the camellia stressed Chelsea out as much as any detail of her plan, because the bush meant as much to her and held as many memories of her childhood and now motherhood, as it did the rest of our family.

Last week, Chelsea and I were together when she got a phone call, she stepped away to take it and when she returned I asked if everything was ok. She told me, that she was scheduling a mover for the tree.

Yesterday afternoon, as I was visiting my parents and brother’s graves, I got a text from Chelsea. Two photos of an excavator gently digging up and moving the camellia bush that had been the site of so many of my families memories.

After running a couple of errands, I stopped by Chelsea’s house on my way home. The excavator was just wrapping up his task and the camellia was gone from it’s original spot. I have to admit, when I drove into the driveway and saw it gone, my heart sank a bit I wasn’t sure if the move was successful or not and the site of so many memories from that little triangular plot of soil could possibly be no more.

Then as I walked around the side of the house and into the backyard I saw Chelsea, smiling and walking my way. The camellia bush now had a new home, centered in the backyard, strategically placed where it can be seen from inside, standing tall.

It’s weird that something as simple as a camellia bush can have so much significance in a families life. From generation to generation that flowering bush has connected us, decades of photos and memories, blooming each year, a reminder of our lives together.

It has a new location, but the camellia has the same home, a place where future pics will be captured, memories will be made and roots will be planted in the legacy of our family tree.

It’s Time Americans Became Americans Again

I’m old enough to remember a time when Americans fought for each other. Our common good, far outweighed our differences and the unity of “We The People,” was our guiding light.

Sadly, today, it seems as though we let our differences over-shadow our similarities and common goals. My fear is that we have gone so far past everything that makes us who we claim to be that we will never again be the UNITED States of America.

It’s like we are all so quick to judge each other by our differences that we don’t take time to explore our similarities anymore. I once heard a Pastor say “if we concentrate on the 98% of things we agree on, the other 2% will work itself out.” I believe those words to be true.

Wouldn’t it be great if we found a way to celebrate our similarities over hating our neighbors over our differences?

I think there are many issues that have caused us to slip to a place where we would rather argue than get along. Social media, the news media, leaders who don’t lead (from BOTH parties), but more than anything else I am firmly convinced it is our collective apathy.

For too many years, we have allowed our leaders and media to get away with 1/2 truths, inaction and a desire for power over a desire to find common ground and do what is best for America. We have sat back and done nothing, and now, we find ourselves in a war with each other.

Instead of working together to compromise we are all so entrenched in what we believe to be true that we won’t even allow a conversation if our “opposition” has an infinitesimal disagreement with where we stand.

If we are ever to be that “shining city on a hill” that Ronald Reagan once called us to be, it’s time we got back to being what America is all about.

In a country where both sides now espouse their patriotism and denigrate the other side, maybe each side could learn some lessons from the other.

In a country where some see our past as history that should be celebrated and others see it as hurtful, maybe a mature conversation where both sides of the argument are listened to would be helpful.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time “we the people” started acting like it.

America has gone through difficulties since we were founded, but TOGETHER we have always gotten through them, I hope we are still that America. I pray, that we concentrate on the TOGETHER before it is too late.

It’s time we grow up, start having mature and honest conversations WITH each other instead of AT each other. We will always have differences, but aren’t the 98% of our similarities more important to our combined future than the 2% that is now tearing us apart?

It’s time we started acting like Americans again….. ALL OF US!

Easter Saturday

Yesterday afternoon my family got together for an Easter cook-out.  It was the first time all of us had been together in many weeks.

This time the gathering was very different.  While we all tried to make it “normal,” there were no hugs, no kisses and the conversations that we had always came back to one thing, the effects of Corona on our lives.

While I enjoyed being with my family, as being in their company is always the medicine I need, I was sad.  This new phase of life we are all limping through hovers like a dark cloud over every aspect of our lives.

Like most families, opinions on the virus vary from person to person, but we respect each other’s thoughts and yesterday, more than normal, we just accepted those varying opinions.

As I came home from our cook-out, feeling isolated from those I love, missing a hug and kiss, I held tight to the knowledge that although we are separated by six feet, the love we have for one another knows no bounds.

This morning, as I attended Easter Sunday church online, once again the loneliness of our current situation weighed heavy on my soul.  There is no other way to say it, this sucks.

Listening to the service and the music I began to feel a peace in knowing that, as the Preacher said, “there has never been a situation that defeated our God & this one won’t be the first.”

During his sermon, the Pastor laid out the Easter story, but paid special attention to Saturday.  You see, Saturday was the time when there was no hope, our Lord was dead, the world seemed destined to loss.

Using a parallel for today’s circumstances, he equated the times we are now in with that Saturday.  The loneliness, constant bad news we see on our television and computer screens looks hopeless, the despair we feel not knowing when this will end.

But what is different today than that Saturday, more than two-thousand years ago, is we KNOW things will get better.  We KNOW we will move past this and we KNOW we will be able to eventually get back to the lives we once enjoyed.

On that Saturday, so many years ago, the people who walked the land didn’t have that promise, they had to wait until the next day, Sunday….. RESURRECTION SUNDAY, before they saw the real power of our Lord and his greatest miracle.

If you are a believer, that powerful day, when Jesus rose from the grave gives us hope during these dark days.

We will come through this, we will once again hug our loved ones, kiss the cheek of our friends and get back to a life that we once knew.

This Saturday will end, and a new day will dawn.

 

A Decade

182986_1881276955955_2769658_n

When you think about it, a decade seems like an eternity, ten years, 3,652 days.

But when a date shapes every aspect of your life, sometimes those decades slip by in what seems like an instant.  That’s what the last 10 years have been for me.

Between 4:30 and 5 AM on February 21, 2010, my mom passed away in her sleep.  That moment changed my life forever.

In some ways those 10 years have felt like an eternity, but the hole in my heart, that still causes me to cry without notice still burns fresh and seems like just yesterday.

I was and will always be a mama’s boy, my mama’s baby.  I cherished those roles.

In the decade since my mama passed away, the world has continued on, but without her as part of the day to day, it often doesn’t seem as bright, exciting or joyful.  I miss my mama as much today as I did on February 21, 2010.

As I have been anticipating this milestone, I have thought a lot about what’s happened in the past 10 years…..

  • I won my re-election as a City Commissioner in Lake Park, FL just a couple of weeks after she died.  A job that just a few months later led to me being named acting Mayor after our Town’s Mayor also passed away.
  • I got the best job I have ever had, one that I loved and eventually was promoted to East Coast Marketing Director for a national retail management company.
  • I enjoyed some of the best times of my life, with friends who are “chosen family” on Hawthorne Drive in Lake Park, FL.
  • Chelsea graduated from college.
  • Zach graduated from High School and College.
  • We had family vacations to FL and the Grand Canyon.
  • Daddy lived a number of years at Cannonwood where they took amazing care of him before he passed 5 years later.
  • I moved home to Clayton, she would have LOVED that!
  • I quit my high income, awesome benefits job and started a business with Chelsea, eventually buying her out so she could return to Real-Estate & then starting a brand “Of These Mountains,” which now is becoming its own retail store.
  • Chelsea fell in love with Brett, mama would have liked Brett, even though he is a Georgia Tech fan…. she wouldn’t have liked that part!
  • Hadley Rae came into our lives, twisted us all around her little finger and became the light of all of our eyes.
  • Chelsea and Brett got married, bringing us another bright light into our lives, Jaydynn.
  • Donna stopped teaching and went to work with Sam.  They continued to thrive in Real Estate and other ventures, eventually buying and developing their own RV Park.  Mama loved to camp and she would absolutely love Willow Valley.
  • We got closer to Puddin and Sherry.  Puddin becoming the brother that we always needed.
  • After graduation, Chelsea started her career in Real Estate and now thrives as one of the top salespeople in the county.
  • Zach, graduated college, worked in hospitality in Athens and eventually moved to Atlanta with a wonderful career.
  • Zach fell in love, finding a guy that makes him happy, enriches his life and fits in perfectly with the craziness of the Rumsey family.
  • Chelsea moved into the house I grew up in, has kept the love of that old house in tact and now is raising her family amidst old memories and making her own.
  • I have settled into life back in Clayton nicely.  I have renewed old friendships & made new ones, but most importantly I have a deeper sense of family than I did when I lived away.  We have fun together and our lives intertwine just enough, without being too much, to keep life interesting.
  • We still argue about politics, but just like mama, Donna doesn’t let us do it on holidays or at the dinner table.

As I think about it, there are lots of things that happened since mama left us.  Not everything has been great, but for the most part, I have no doubt that we as a family have lived the example she taught us.  We put family first and try our best to be good citizens and neighbors.

I say mama left us 10 years ago today, her physical body did, but not her spirit, she remains a constant in every aspect of my life.

Rarely does something happen that I don’t think about picking up the phone to talk to her.  I would give my arm to receive just one more hug from her, she was my light and with her passing that light dimmed, but it’s never out.

I know my mama is with me every day, and she has been in every moment I listed above and the thousands not mentioned.  I feel her presence, I just hope I have done her proud.

Ten years seems like a lifetime, until something happens that shakes your life to the core.

I miss my mama.