Without question, whenever I am really up against it, my go-to movie, which is not really a movie at all, is the PBS documentary “Abraham & Mary Lincoln: A House Divided.” I was thinking about a quote from it the other day, something Abraham Lincoln said. I found it in Part 5:
“I desire to so conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end when I come to lay down the reigns of power I’ve lost every friend on earth, I shall have at least one friend left and that friend shall be down inside me.”
I often feel that way about writing this blog.
Those who support Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are a mixed lot. Among the ranks are many factions who sometimes go to war with each other, forgetting for a time that we share a common enemy and a common goal.
The reason for each skirmish is often pride and/or jealousy. The outcome is always some cheap entertainment for the trolls.
Many of Dzhokhar’s supporters have held their position since the early days of the bombing. Some have changed their beliefs so often one might think they were doing nothing more important than joining or leaving an alliance on the reality show “Survivor.”
I have moved in and out of (and been unceremoniously expelled from) a few alliances myself as my belief in what really happened has evolved. This is understandable, I have concluded; facts of and related to the bombing continue to emerge. I can only wonder how we will all handle it when at last the full truth is known and we must acknowledge on what side of it we once stood.
Until then there will be those who think there was no bombing where people died or were horribly maimed. There will be those who know a terrible tragedy happened to real people and who hold various groups of government responsible for that tragedy. Many will continue to blame the Tsarnaev brothers for planting very real bombs that caused very real death and destruction.
Within each group there are also sub-groups: One holds to the belief that the Tsarnaev brothers are responsible and that Dzhokhar is as fully to blame as Tamerlan. Another group believes he was coerced and would never have committed such an act on his own.
Some care only for what happens to Tsarnaev’s soul while others care deeply about what happens to both body and soul in this life and the life to come. Muslims are sure his faith in Allah will guarantee Dzhokhar an eternity spent in paradise while Christians pray for and await the day Jesus becomes real to him through the experience of being born again.
I have never hidden where I stand on those matters.
I have also never tried to hide the fact of who I am – and who I am not. It bears repeating now: I, Lynn (which is my real name) am not an attorney. I am not family. I do not talk to the family. I am not affiliated with any branch of government.
Some are uncomfortable when I say I hear the still, small voice of God, that He speaks to me about Dzhokhar. I believe He longs to say words of hope, comfort, courage and direction to many more people than are currently willing to hear them and not just about Dzhokhar – about all the things we struggle over.
I know God has gifted me when it comes to writing. Yet, when I read Heather Frizzell’s blog, I am unashamed to admit I am at once impressed and intimidated. Much of what she writes I don’t even fully understand because I am not an attorney, nor do I have the good fortune, like Heather does, to be related to one. After reading her blog I am grateful she continues to write it and humbled that I even have a voice in this debate.
Just as doctors take an oath to “first, do no harm,” I try to remember that oath when I write. But, like a doctor, there are times when I know even as the words come that “this is going to hurt a little.”
Making the victims of the bombing so untouchable because of what they have suffered that no journalist (and so far no defense attorney) dares to question them is wrong. No one is above reproach – that includes me.
My mom taught me good manners. I said please and thank you often as a child. To this day I maintain that most appropriate habit. In addition to conducting myself with common courtesy, I believe in giving credit where credit is due. Thus I mention and praise Heather Frizzell’s blog. Competition has no place in our quest to help Dzhokhar.
We all have a role to play and each role is necessary. Some are blessed to be able to give financially to this cause while others find themselves in such dire financial straits they can only dream of the day when they too can afford to contribute. Those who talk to family are as valuable as those who kneel, with or without a prayer rug beneath them, and talk to God.
Whether sharing a tweet or a photo, writing an article for a newspaper or a blog, we are all doing our part to keep this story alive until the day justice and freedom are secured for Dzhokhar.
I wish to share the following true story, the way Jesus often used a parable to illustrate a point. Try seeing it as “a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.”
My spectacular and thoroughly unjustified fall from grace in the corporate world left me with no roof over my head, a reputation in tatters, a canyon of self-doubt, a heap of blame and a mountain of debt, much of it medical.
I was born with severe scoliosis and will continue to see a specialist chiropractor, of which this country has a very small number, for the rest of my life. I require an adjustment every other week and that gets expensive.
Years ago, of his own accord, my chiropractor began giving me one free monthly adjustment. I was a struggling single mom and my then employer’s new insurance plan suddenly no longer covered this specialty.
The current cost of an adjustment is $60. When I lost my job and before regular income resumed, I ran up quite a bill. It was alarming how quickly my unpaid balance grew to over $200. When at last I was able to begin paying again, it was only to the tune of $65 per month, which was $5 per month toward my very large previous balance. At that rate it was going to take forever to pay it off.
Two days ago I was in his office for my bi-weekly visit. When I handed my $65 payment to Trish, the new office manager, she advised me she had paid my previous balance in full. Briefly and quietly, she explained her motivation to help others was rooted in an impoverished childhood. Years ago she determined to pay forward the desperately needed kindness her family received.
Yes, there are still people like that in this world…
When a complete stranger unexpectedly helps, “thank you” often does not feel like an adequate response but we still need to say it.
I am not embarrassed to admit I still need help. I am not embarrassed to accept help when it is offered. It is going to take time to get my life back. Though some do look down on me and say hurtful things because of my current charity-case status, I would never keep quiet about the fact that someone has helped me.
When God spreads a table for you in the presence of your enemies, like the Bible says, you don’t put up a partition to keep it a secret. If the blessing of receiving help from others makes your enemies angry – I see that as a bonus!
When I was a kid we played a game called King of the Hill. Whoever made it to the top of the hill (usually of sand or gravel) and held that position without being pushed off earned the title. I never won – I wasn’t ruthless enough.
I don’t know if kids still play that game today but adults sure do.
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.” James 4: 1-2
When people try to play King of the Hill with me now, I walk away. There are enough hills, enough summits, enough places of honor at the table, enough accolades to go around. I don’t need to destroy someone else to feel good about myself.
The past ten years of injustice, loss and extreme financial difficulty have taught me a few things I didn’t realize I knew until one day recently when I was walking to do some errands. Once again, my car had broken down. Once again I could not afford the needed repairs.
Walking gives you time to think. It gives you time to really feel your feelings and that’s a good thing many of us don’t do very often.
The streets I drove every day looked different on foot. Block after block, it was like I saw the places I passed for the first time. I noticed how beautiful the day, the sky, the weather was.
And as I walked, I realized something had shifted inside me. I realized I no longer define myself by what I own, how I look, or by what has been taken from me. As painful as the recent years have been, I see the need for them now. I would never want to repeat them, but I am grateful for the woman I am who rose from those ashes.
“When all is said and done, when the last sound goes off in the darkness, everything can be taken from us – our houses, our identities, our health, our loved ones – but our stories remain. Through our stories we survive.”
I read that quote in an article by Colum McCann in the September issue of “O” Magazine, “Step into my Shoes, and I’ll Step into Yours.” The author goes on to say “We tell each other what’s happened to us not only because we want to know we’re worthwhile, but also because we want others to feel worthwhile too.”
I hope I have accomplished that today.
“These Days” Jackson Browne
Well I’ve been out walkin’
I don’t do that much talkin’ these days
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
And all the times I had the chance to
And I had a lover
It’s so hard to risk another these days
Now if I seem to be afraid
To live the life that I have made in song
Well it’s just that I’ve been losin’ for so long
Well I’ll keep on movin’ – movin’ on
Things are bound to be improvin’ these days…
One of these days…
These days I’ll sit on cornerstones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don’t confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them