The old year is gone. I’ve done all the looking back I intend to.
Time to look ahead. How do I do that? Looking back is easy. Looking forward – not so much. I find beginnings the hardest part of writing. Beginning a new book, even a new chapter, even when the story is well under way, presents a challenge. It forces me to face the unknown. How can I be sure it will be good – worthy of the time I hope readers will devote to it? There’s no sure way to know that.
The same goes for years. All of us, if we look back over our lives, will see some years that are better than others. Most of us probably have years we’d like to delete, but I have a feeling if we could go back and delete a bad year, we’d lose something valuable, maybe a lesson learned, that paved the way for a good year. If we wiped out our mistakes, we might wipe out the reason for a new direction, which though taken reluctantly, led to an exciting discovery, a new venture. Since life has no delete key, we’ll never know. All we can do as we start this year is go forward. Start where we are. Maybe change a few things, but keep moving, keep doing.
One of the things (actually the main thing) I’d like to do differently relating to writing would be to start sooner. That, without being too analytical about it, is probably true for everything about my life. In almost everything I do I wish I were further along than I am. I wish I’d wasted less time thinking about what I wanted to do and just gotten to the doing.
But, even in that I could be wrong. Maybe the procrastination and the doubts were necessary. Maybe those bad things were part of the ripening that brought something good to fruition. Anyway, good or bad, they’re part of who I am at the beginning of this year.
So, no resolutions this year. Well … maybe one: PROCRASTINATE LESS. DO IT NOW.
Happy 2014, everyone. May your road ahead be … more good than bad.
It’s the last day of 2013, but before I can ring in the new year, I can’t resist one more look at the old. One of the ways I do that is to go through the journal I keep of the books I read. I’m not good about keeping records of most things, but I am faithful with my Books Journal. Looking through it takes me back to the places I’ve visited via the magic carpet propelled by reading. Along the way, I spend time with people who’ve stepped off the pages and become my friends. I recall bits of crisply-written dialogue.
The first book I read in 2013 was Life Sentences by Laura Lippman. It was a good beginning. As is usually the case with Lippman, the complexity of the characters drove the story and made the journey worthwhile.
The last book I read completely in 2013 was Seneca Falls Inheritance by Miriam Grace Monfredo. The book was fiction, not surprisingly a mystery. When our sons were growing up, we spent a lot of time camping and boating in the Finger Lakes region of New York, so I’ve been to Seneca Falls but have never visited any of the historical sites connected to the women’s movement. I intend to remedy that in the year ahead. I enjoyed the book; it was an interesting period mystery and a history lesson. I intend to look for more books by Monfredo.
Between those first and last books were about fifty more, some better than others, but not one I feel was a waste of time. Some were light, with stories that lift the heart: La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith (I never let a year go by without a book or two by him); Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach. (It was good, but I liked the movie better – can’t remember the last time that happened); Mischief in Italy by Beate Boeker (frothy fun), The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas (a story about quilting and friendship set in the depression years), Keeping Up With Mr. Jones by Sofie Couch (proof that you’re never too old to fall in love). Others were darker: The Devil Star by Jo Nesbo (nobody does dark like the Scandinavians), Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (the suspense, twists and turns in this one blew my mind), Finding Claire Fletcher by Lisa Regan (story of a girl kidnapped and held for years, told with intensity and compelling detail). I won’t go on. Since I write mysteries, I read a lot of them and many fall into the dark category.
Of course, I had to read The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Goldbraith (who we all know is really J. K. Rowling). It didn’t disappoint. Rowling knows how to tell a story, but that’s hardly news.
The two books with the most beautiful titles were The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers and And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hasseini. Surprisingly (or maybe not), the title is the reason I found myself re-reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I wept (not an exaggeration) over this book years ago, but hadn’t thought of it for a long time until one of the book groups to which I belong read Angry Housewives Eating BonBons by Lorna Landvick (a book I wouldn’t have read if it hadn’t been on our list). The angry housewives are a book group and one of its members wanted to read Lonely Hunter because she thought it was the most beautiful title she’d ever heard. The irony here is that the Angry Housewives/BonBons title sounded so trite that I almost played hooky that month rather than waste my time on a silly book. That would have been a shame because I would have missed a good book and a great discussion. It’s true. You can’t judge a book by its cover – or its title. Thank goodness for book groups; they’ve introduced me to authors I might not have discovered otherwise.
Speaking of book groups, another wonderful read is The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. This one’s a heartbreaker; it’s the story of a mother who’s dying of cancer and her son who form their own two-person book club. Written by the son, it is a beautiful homage to his mother’s well-lived, generous life and to the power of books to communicate and console. I called the book a heartbreaker; it is, but it’s also uplifting – and full a good titles if you’re looking for additions to your TBR list.
I just started re-reading T. H. White’s The Once and Future King. It’s been a long time since I read it the first time, but I remember laughing out loud at some of the early scenes, those when King Arthur was just the humble Wart, being eddicated by an eccentric magician who lived backwards in time. I’m not sure what prompted me to pick up this book and start reading, but I’m glad I did. It hasn’t lost its power to delight. I’ve always been a sucker for anything Camelot-related and what a great bridge between the old and new years.
What’s next? I have no idea. Maybe something by an author I’ve never read before. Maybe another oldie. Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to it.
Happy New Year to the readers of Birth of a Novel. May 2014 be the year peace on earth becomes more than a lovely dream. On a more personal level, I hope you have a wonderful year ahead - much time with people you love, lots of pleasant surprises and many good books. If any of you have books to recommend, I’d love to hear about them.
In honor of the season, this week instead of a regular post, I’m sharing a short story that I wrote several years ago. Happy holidays (whatever holiday you celebrate, even if none). I wish for all of you a blessed season and many good things in 2014. May you spend your days surrounded by people you love – even if they drive you crazy sometimes.
I set the last candle, swirled a little frosting around its base, and stepped back to inspect my handiwork. A tad lopsided. Otherwise, not too bad. A leaning tower of love. That’s what I’d call it. In my family, we like sentimental, hokey things. In that, we’re in agreement, if not much else.
My father is Timothy Connell, grandson of a proud rebel who left Dublin in 1920, three short hops ahead of the Black and Tan. My mother, the former Naomi Herskovitz, is the child of Jews savvy enough to get out of Babi Yar six months before the arrival of the infamous killing squads. So you can see why I treasure small points of agreement – and why parties including both sides of the family are not, for me, an everyday event.
“Sarah! The balloons are up.” David’s voice, from the basement rec room. “Come have a look.”
Doesn’t he know how busy I am?
“You’re going to be impressed.”
Doesn’t have a clue.
“Sarah?” Swift footsteps, then, “Here you are.”
“Where’d you expect me to be?”
“I was calling you.”
“Well?” He looked genuinely puzzled. “Something wrong?”
It was impossible not to respond to his innocence. “Nothing wrong,” I told him. “Just a lot to do. I want everything perfect.”
“Benny’ll think it’s perfect – no matter what.”
Benny has Downs Syndrome. I guess that’s why I think of him as my little brother even though he’s two years older than I am and why I always try to make his birthday perfect. Falling on December 20, it would be easy to lose in the holiday madness of disparate celebrations, but we don’t let that happen – another area in which both sides of the family are united.
David put his arms around me and rested his chin on the top of my head. I leaned into him, hoping to absorb some of his confidence. When the doorbell rang, he held me close for a brief moment before we moved apart. No need to answer the bell. We knew who would be first to arrive and that she would come on in.
“I came early to help,” Aunt Judith announced. She set a platter of latkes on the counter with her usual flourish, then turned a blush-enhanced cheek to be kissed. A former ballerina, her smallest action always seemed a statement, a statement that I found impossible to ignore. Aunt Judith is my mother’s twin, and one of the pillars of my life. “There’s more in the car,” she said, tilting her head gracefully in David’s direction.
He jumped to attention. “I’m on it.”
“Be careful of the goose.”
“Aunt Judith! I told you not to. I made lasagna. Something everybody likes.” I looked at the large pans, fresh from the oven, still bubbling, an aromatic compromise.
But my aunt is not by nature a compromiser.
I was saved from reprimand by the clattering appearance of my sons. Childless, Aunt Judith dotes on the young of each generation as they come along, and Daniel and Patrick are special favorites, a mixed blessing for them, since to be a favorite of Aunt Judith’s means meeting her rigorous standards. “I love little boys,” she’s fond of saying, only half kidding, “There’s so much room for improvement.”
Each boy, in turn, kissed Aunt Judith and stood tall for inspection, just as I had always done.
“Somebody get the door,” David called from the front porch.
Daniel opened the door for his father, and we all took a minute to admire what was surely the world’s largest goose, skin crisp and brown, glistening with fat, swelled with the chestnut and apple stuffing that nobody makes like Aunt Judith. David set it on the counter between my cake and the lasagna, where it rested, massive and proud. The little tower seemed to lean more, and the bubbles on the lasagna to deflate. Oh well, I told myself, it doesn’t matter. Anything that makes Benny feel important is good.
“I couldn’t carry everything,” David said, “Daniel, why don’t you run get the bag out of the trunk.”
“Where should I put this stuff?” Daniel asked when he came back with a bulging shopping bag. Aunt Judith turned to me and, with the slightest lift of a dark, perfected-shaped eyebrow, asked where the presents should go.
“Basement. On the ping pong table.”
I watched David and the boys take the presents downstairs and took a couple of deep breaths.
“That’s right. Relax.” Aunt Judith put both arms around me. As always, I was awed by the strength that emanated from her diminutive form. “Stop worrying. Everything will be fine,” she said. “It always is.”
The commotion at the front door was a welcome distraction
Daddy pushed open the door and, convivial as always, sang out, “You can start the party now.” He stepped back to let Mom and Benny come in ahead of him before he added, “We brought the birthday boy.”
Seeing Daddy and Benny together, it’s hard to believe they’re related at all – much less father and son. Daddy is tall, straight-backed, has about him an air of go-to-hellish elegance. “Handsome as a Cossack,” is how Grandma Herskovitz used to describe him. Benny is stubby, hunched, and always seems to be trying to keep up.
Daddy’s two widowed sisters drove up before he made it into the house. He went to help Aunt Meg out of the car and up the three steps, then came to gather me up in a bear hug. He rubbed his face against mine and asked, “How’s my princess?’
I knew the exact instant he became aware of Aunt Judith’s presence. I felt his tight hug go slack and he stepped back at precisely the moment his sisters stepped forward – Sinn Feiners closing rank.
I winced at the look in Aunt Judith’s eyes when she saw that Aunt Meg now needed a cane and that Aunt Betsy had put on weight. Please, I prayed silently and vaguely to the God who surely watches over both Connells and Herskovitzes.
“It’s been a while,” Aunt Judith said, her voice absolutely level, too polite.
“Too long,” Daddy answered, though he must have known her comment had been directed to his sisters. Aunt Judith’s eyes narrowed. I held my breath. Neither of my other aunts spoke. They just stood there, flanking their brother, vigilant.
Then everyone started arriving at once, another aunt and uncle, cousins, spouses, kids. Of course, everyone brought food: a huge tureen of Russian vegetable soup, hearty enough for a main course; a whiskey cake, redolent of the degeneracy my mother had been warned against when she married into an Irish family; butter cookies decorated with blue sugar; tree-shaped cookies iced in green; Uncle Walter’s to-die-for rye bread; a sinfully-creamy potato casserole.
Greeting, kissing, admiring the food, everyone talked at once, creating a collective good will. Amid the jumble of voices, I heard Aunt Betsy ask David if he’d get the ham out of her car.
Not her too! “
Aunt Betsy, I told you not to go to any trouble.”
“No trouble,” she said. “It’s just a ham. Same old, same old.” She lowered her eyes with becoming modesty.
“Loaded with salt,” Aunt Judith said, just loud enough.
Aunt Meg looked ready to respond, but Aunt Betsy chimed in, “With all these hungry mouths to feed, I’m sure a ham won’t go to waste.”
Aunt Judith’s eyes flashed, but her lips remained curved in a smile.
Thank you, God, for favors, large and small.
One of the cousins asked, “Did you bring your guitar, Benny?”
“It’s in the car.”
“Are you going to serenade us later?”
“You bet.” Benny’s slightly slanted eyes squeezed shut in pleasure before he remembered his manners and added, “If you insist.” He loves playing for an audience, but Mom always tells him that he has to wait to be asked.
“We insist.” Herskovitz and Connell voices united.
David came in with Aunt Betsy’s ham, its surface studded with fragrant cloves nestled among delicate flowers fashioned from bits of pineapple and cherries, a mouth-watering work of art. It was worthy of a moment of silent contemplation, but Aunt Judith’s wrinkled nose and the lineup of expectant faces reminded me to keep things moving along.
I sent Benny to get his guitar and took Aunt Meg’s arm to help her down the steps to the rec room. Her tentative shuffle almost broke my heart. It didn’t seem that long ago she had been helping me – demonstrating the fine art of the belly flop – shining tangles of red hair streaming behind her, running through the snow, throwing herself and the sled at the earth, looking up at me, laughing, daring me to follow.
Everyone pitched in to move the food downstairs. Aunt Judith composed her face and picked up the platter with the ham.
Cooperation. My heart surged with love. How could I have doubted these people? Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone.
Still holding onto Aunt Meg’s arm, I looked up and saw the ham slide off the platter, hit the floor and bounce down the steps – an obese blob, spewing a trail of clove-dark pellets, mingled with bright bits of red and yellow.
“I don’t know how I could be so clumsy!”
Could that be Aunt Judith’s voice? Aunt Judith, who’s never made a clumsy move in her life? I looked again toward the top of the stairs. Yes, there stood Aunt Judith, clutching an empty platter. Her mouth was arranged in a contrite, solemn line, but the look in her eyes was pleasure, pure and unadulterated, a mouse who’d just sprung the trap and stolen the cheese.
Aunt Betsy, the most ladylike of my aunts, glared at her for the merest half second before she looked at me and said, “Don’t worry about it.”
I sent up a silent thank you that there was only one Aunt Judith.
A dramatic sweep of Aunt Meg’s cane cut short that prayer. Fat exploded from crisp brown skin as Aunt Judith’s goose left the table in a spinning trajectory, orbited by particles of bread crumbs, apples, chestnuts, and raisins.
Radiant innocence lighted Aunt Meg’s clear blue eyes as she placed the fat-glistened tip of her cane firmly on the floor, managing, just, to find a clear spot. “We’re none of us as graceful as we used to be,” she said, and smiled angelically at Aunt Judith.
I heard a quick intake of breath, then a barely-repressed chuckle – my mother and my father respectively – I knew without looking.
When Benny appeared, guitar in hand, his eyes went immediately to the greasy mess on the floor, then to our mother’s face. She signaled something to him in the secret language the two of them share. I didn’t know what Mom’s message told Benny, but I knew I would never forgive my aunts – and vowed that next year David and I would take Benny to a nice restaurant to celebrate his birthday among civilized people.
I cleaned up enough to make the rec room usable and we all filled our plates and found places to sit: Daddy, Aunt Meg, and Aunt Betsy on the west side of the basement with the Connell cousins, Mom and Aunt Judith on the east with the Herskovitz tribe. David and I sat with Benny between the two, hoping to keep the twain from meeting.
I guess it’s true that good food maketh good fellows because we made it through the meal without incident – also without much conversation, but, at this point, I counted that a blessing.
Benny opened his gifts to the appropriate oohs and ahs, and I breathed a little easier. We’d almost made it, but I knew his birthday celebration wouldn’t be complete if he didn’t get to sing. At least a song or two. Surely the aunts could tolerate each other that long.
“Ready to serenade us, Benny?” I asked.
No need to say more. He picked up the guitar and looked around. “Any requests?”
We answered in chorus – different words, diverse tones, overlapping, braiding themselves into one sentiment: “Anything you like, Benny.”
I watched his face, shining and pure, as I listened to the familiar words: How many nights … his stubby fingers caressed the strings, some instinct telling him that a minor key was needed to contrast the festive message …’til we light the candles? He continued to sing, far beyond the one or two songs I had dared hope for him and no one seemed anxious, or even willing, to end our time together. Silent night … His voice was harsh, with a hint of a lisp, not pleasant, and yet, it was the voice that united and soothed and healed us. All is calm.
Until next time.
When you’re all shopped-out, tired of parties and cookie-baking, and just need a few minutes to yourself, it’s time to curl up with a good book. Here are a few holiday suggestions. I’m proud to say they’re all written by friends of mine, but aside from any friendly prejudices I might hold, I assure you they’re all good stories, just the thing to keep your holiday spirit alive without adding stress or stretching the budget. You may even find a last-minute gift or two here.
Can a delightful orphan girl convince Maddie that love is the best Christmas gift of all?
A Family for Christmas by Mona Ingram http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009DRUP9C
Christmas in Hollywood. Two Labor Relations attorneys on opposite sides of a Hollywood arbitration develop a passionate conflict of interest.
Labor Relations by Georgie Lee http://amzn.to/1gBFlfV
No longer content to live in her late husband’s memory, Margaret contemplates a prestigious job offer, a move that seemed so simple before meeting Paul. Can love bridge the cultural gap and show them the wonders of a second chance?
A Light in the Dark by Fran McNabb http://amzn.to/1cOTaE7
As Nancy and Mike celebrate together at sparkling holiday parties and family festivities, Mike’s presence ignites long-buried feelings in Nancy’s heart. But past events have made her certain that their romance could never last.
Lights of Love is a Hanukkah romance by Roni Denholtz. http://amzn.to/1baB7ne
Joanna is lost in a blizzard on her way home from a difficult foaling. Just one man can save her – but he’s strangely reluctant to come to her help.
Stormy Times by Beate Boeker http://amzn.to/JxVzs4
Lady Crenshaw’s Christmas is a short story follow-up to two full length novels, Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind and Miss Delacourt Has Her Day.
Lady Crenshaw’s Christmas by Heidi Ashworth http://amzn.to/1bNYqXr
It’s that sentimental time of year, when everyone is looking at the bright side … well, almost everyone. Writers, being contrarians by nature, like to look at things a little differently. I know at least one writer who, even at Christmas, likes a bit of dark with all that light and she very kindly agreed to share her views with readers of this blog. So, my friends … drum roll, please … meet Karen McCullough.
It’s my favorite time of year! I love, love, love the Christmas season. I enjoy pretty much everything about it: music, decorations, baking, shopping, even the cold weather. And I love Christmas stories.
Like the season itself, they tend to be sweet, even schlocky, and I’m not usually someone who goes for schlock. While I do love happy, or at least hopeful, endings, I’m more drawn to darker stories with troubled characters and tough situations. I find a happy ending more satisfying if the characters have had to go through hell to get to it.
In truth, I generally prefer even my Christmas stories to have a bit of darkness – a damaged character finding healing or the climax of a difficult journey coinciding with the holidays. My absolute all-time favorite Christmas story is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Characters don’t come much more nasty than Scrooge at the beginning of the story. Doesn’t it make his transformation all that much more moving, though?
Still, I’ll read almost anything that has a Christmas theme.
I’ve tried to figure out why I’m willing to read sweet romances, tales with kids and pets, bunnies and teddy bears (okay, elves and reindeer, anyway) at this time of year, when the rest of the year I tend to avoid those kinds of books. Why does a Christmas theme trump everything else?
I suspect it has to do with the season itself and the emotions it inspires in those of us who celebrate it. Christmas is a time when people are more cognizant of others and their needs. It’s a season that celebrates generosity and encourages giving. Giving to those we love, especially family, but extending a spirit of generosity to friends, acquaintances, and even strangers.
So many Christmas stories center on characters learning to open their eyes and hearts to see and appreciate those around them, or on people coming to understand what their priorities should be, or just gaining a better understand of why it really is better to give than to receive.
And I like even those stories darker because the journey is longer, harder, and yet ultimately more satisfying when the distance from darkness to light is farther.
Not surprisingly, years ago, when I was assigned to write the vampire story to be part of an anthology of paranormal Christmas stories, I wanted the journey to be a hard, even desperate one. I think I succeeded. And a few years ago, after the anthology went out of print, I was able to retrieve the rights to the story, and now A Vampire’s Christmas Carol is available in most ebook formats.
Blurb: Can Christmas Eve get any more fun? On her way to her family’s home, Carol Prescott’s car slides into a ditch in a deserted area with no cell phone signal. The only available shelter is already occupied…by a vampire. To Michael Carpenter, Carol is the bait of a trap.
In an effort to hold onto his soul, Michael has resisted the urge to drink human blood for almost a century. Now he hovers between human and vampire. If he doesn’t drink from a human before the night ends, he’ll die. He’s desperately thirsty, but Michael has seen the soulless monsters vampires are and he prefers death. Carol is pure temptation to him, the Christmas present from hell…or is it from heaven?
Buy:Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006G36AXG Nook: http://bit.ly/In7FEb Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/109662
About Karen McCullough
Karen McCullough is a web designer by profession, and the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres as well. She has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy, and has also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, four grandchildren and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.Website: http://www.kmccullough.com Blog: http://www.kmccullough/kblog Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KarenMcCulloughAuthor Twitter: http://twitter.com/kgmccullough Thank you, Karen, for stopping by Birth of a Novel.
One of my resolutions at the beginning of this year was that I would read fewer books. The plan was to take time to savor the language and pay attention to how the writer developed characters. I admitted in a post last August that that didn’t go well – or, more accurately, it didn’t go as planned. However, I did learn something about myself and isn’t that what resolutions are all about?
The second part of that resolution was to set aside a month to immerse myself in the words of one writer. How did that go? Much better. The writer I chose was Willa Cather. Why her? She was one of the many writers I know more by reputation than by actual experience. At that point, I had read only one of her books (My Antonia), but it was enough to know that she had interesting things to say and that I enjoyed her style. It was a good choice.
For me, reading is all about characters. The books that I love and go back to again and again are those with strong characters – people with whom I fall in love and cheer for, or sometimes hate and jeer at. Either way, these people real to me. After I close the book and turn off the light, I worry about them. When the book is finished and back on the shelf, I savor their triumphs and regret their disappointments. And when it comes to creating strong characters, nobody beats Cather – especially strong women.
My favorite examples of Cather’s strong women are portrayed in the books known as the Prairie Trilogy: Oh Pioneers!, Song of the Lark, and My Antonia. If you want to understand the history of our country, read these three books. They tell the story of a country – growing, changing, and forging itself into a nation. The characters are not heroic in the usual sense of the word, but they, through the lives they led, the hardships they endured, the perseverance they displayed, are the backbone of the country. Their strengths and weakness are at the heart of who we, as Americans, are. In each of them, there’s a strong woman, a woman who’s not afraid to take charge of her own destiny.
Song of the Lark is a little different from the other two in that it looks at the less than admirable side of life in a tight, closed community. It’s the story of an artist, nurtured by the prairie she loves and, at the same time, constricted by the expectations of the community and stifled by small-town life. I couldn’t help but wonder how much of Cather’s own experience went into this one.
To round out the month, I read a collection of novellas that included A Lost Lady, The Professor’s House, and Death Comes for the Archbishop. They were all good stories, but I have to admit about half way through Death Comes for the Archbishop, I began to skim. It’s set in an earlier time than the others and was an inspiring story in many ways. The archbishop traveled all over the southwest, including some Native American sites that I’ve visited and found fascinating. I’m not sure why I lost interest. Maybe I was just maxed out on life on the great prairies – in other words, too much of a good thing.
All in all, I enjoyed immersing myself in Willa Cather’s books. She was a wise woman, and a fine writer. A few of her observations that I thought worth jotting down:
“There are some things you learn best in calm and some in storm.”
“Where there is great love, there are always wishes.”
“It does not matter much whom we live with in this world, but it matters a great deal whom we dream of.”
“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”
No fancy language – just seemingly obvious statements, expressed in simple, declarative sentences. Yet I found them provocative. All in all, I enjoyed immersing myself in the books of one author and will probably do it again. No idea who will be next. Any suggestions?
So often we complain about our country. We lament a political process that seems to have gone wrong, grouse about corruption and lack of fairness, about … I could go on, but I won’t. We all have our pet peeves about what’s wrong with America and we’re not shy about expressing them. That’s okay. We have the freedom to do that and that just may be our most important freedom.
Freedom of Speech is the freedom that keeps the others intact.
I grieve that we aren’t more respectful of opinions that differ from our own. I have to admit that I’m guilty of this myself. I say terrible things about people whom I’ve never met – all because they don’t agree with me about where America should go or how we should get there. I get so caught up in expressing my own opinions that I forget to listen to those who have contrary ideas. And, for that, I’m sorry. Really, really sorry. But I’ll probably continue to do it. Why? Because I have the freedom to do so.
This most important freedom is also the easiest to abuse and we do abuse it all too often. But, somehow, in the midst of all the shouting, we keep going, re-interpreting what freedom means and how government is supposed to work. The process can be uncomfortable, sometimes downright painful, but maybe the pains are necessary. Maybe they’re growing pains – and isn’t it good, after more than 200 years, to still be growing? This Sunday, after church, Pete and I were talking to someone who is active in local politics. We asked her what she thought of the election results. She said, “The voters always get it right.” I’m not sure I agree, but I admire her attitude, especially since I’m reasonably sure she didn’t support all the candidates who won.
My wish/hope for the world is that all people everywhere find freedom – in whatever form works for them, in whatever culture they live.
Again – THANKS, VETERANS.