Monday, April 2, 2018

"This Week"

                  Become wounding fists
                           Punching gut
                  Mauls rational thought
                           Devouring differences
                  Cultivates hateful insanity
                           Breeding spite
I recoil in disbelief
                  Nurture my flagging sensibilities
                           Defending choice
I fold into myself
                  Shield my diminishing spirit
                           Blocking pain
I triage my wounds
                  Bind my bleeding-heart liberalism
                           Seeking restoration

Copyright 2018 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Sunday, April 1, 2018

"On The Edge"

         The working poor live on the edge of poverty, where every little thing can impact their lives tremendously. Emergencies that many people absorb by dipping into a savings account, or using a credit card, hit hard because there is no reserve stash of cash. If your extended family survives on a month-by-month budget, turning to them for help adds to a layer of embarrassment and failure to the problem.
         On Thanksgiving, when we arrived at my brother’s home, a pool of water on the front porch greeted us. We immediately suspected a water leak and sniffed out the problem before we even put our bags into the spare bedroom. The water line going to his refrigerator hissed. Cutting open the wall, we found a nasty spray of water. The plumber my brother uses was out of town for the holiday and wouldn’t be able to check out the problem until the following Tuesday. We headed to Walmart (the only place open) and bought a variety of patch options, which we Frankensteined over the whole as a temporary fix. The hissing leak slowed to a sighing trickle.
         As the plumber did his repair, my brother called with the news. First, he was extremely lucky. The water hadn’t backed into his kitchen. His kitchen cabinets and the sheetrock along that wall remained dry. All of the water had flowed forward and had seeped out to the front of the house along the exterior foundation. We worriedly asked about the plumber’s fee. If he only did the repair and didn’t patch the sheetrock, the bill would run about $400.00—a huge chunk of money out of the fund our family maintains for my brother’s home and car emergencies. We decided that we could run down to my brother’s house in a few weeks to fix the wall. The hole hid behind the refrigerator, so it wasn’t an eyesore.
         As usual, events in our own lives kept shifting back the trip to repair the wall. Then horrendous rain storms pushed back the date even further. The hideous gap remained for over four months. Although it didn’t take long to cut a patch, float and tape and texture the area (plus add a new coat of paint to the wall), that repair would’ve added a huge dollar amount to the plumber’s bill if he’d used his supplies and time fixing the wall.

         My brother’s gratitude for our help always reminds us of how difficult it is for someone working full-time, but not at a livable wage, to absorb setbacks. When he stated optimistically, “If you have to have something go wrong, just hope it goes wrong in the right way,” I had to smile.

Copyright 2018 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Thursday, March 15, 2018

"Wants VS Needs"

         I’ve read some pretty mean comments on social media recently. Insulting words lashing out, sometimes with no obviously reason for the inflammatory temper tantrums. Suddenly, a conversational steam turns ugly. I sit dumbfounded as I read through cruel, malicious responses from people I thought to be reasonable—and nice.
         Most of the time, I try to understand both sides of the issue. If I weigh in (many times I bite my tongue and keep away from my keyboard), I attempt to find factual support for the issue at hand. Sometimes I balance myself onto a middle ground. Occasionally, I respond with well thought out deliberation. Fortunately, I have a blog wherein I can pull together longer reflections.
         In my dream-state last night, I mulled through this-n-that in an effort to distill recent events into some kind of cohesive theory that applies to a bigger picture, and I tossed-n-turned myself into a dichotomy of wants versus needs.
         Many people state belief systems as though they are needs. They need to follow their religious doctrines.  They need to spank their children—and everyone else’s, too. They need to defund programs like education and welfare. They need to take care of their own—even if that means making decisions that harm others. They need to own guns. They need to stop abortion. They need to segregate themselves way from minorities. They need to prepare for Armageddon.
          Whenever these people speak out, they truly feel that these things are essential requirements for their safety and happiness—for their duty to family, or church, or country. Their insistence that things are needs lends a level of urgency and unreasonable panic to their daily lives. When they feel that these needs are threatened, they respond with illogical anger and boiling hostility. They view their world as always threatened by someone else encroaching upon or diminishing their basic needs and rights. It must be rough living with so much distress and disharmony.
         I wish I could wave a magic wand over these people and shift their mindset to the fact that all of these things are wants, and not needs, because the urgency and fear shifts dramatically with this worldview.

March 15, 2018