Bobbi Ann Johnson Holmes

I hate labels…

Liberal, conservative, racist, Democrat, Republican, socialist, capitalist, feminist, anti-fascist, communist, patriot, and the list goes on.

Terms are often misused, misunderstood, and incorrectly applied.

This morning I had a brief chat with a friend who if we were to identify ourselves by labels, one would assume we would not agree on anything. But we do. And I suspect, many Americans agree with their fellow Americans more than they realize. 

But sometimes we cling so tightly to our personal views we refuse to take a step back and try to understand what the person on the opposing side is feeling—what they are really saying—and why they find some of your expressed views so appalling. Perhaps we are just looking at issues through different lenses, seeing things that the other person does not see.

So, what do I believe?

I believe in hard work.

I believe there is nothing wrong with making money, providing you are not exploiting or taking unfair advantages.

I believe in the social, political, and economic equality of all people regardless of race, gender, or sexual preference. 

This does not mean I believe we should put all our money into a pot and then divided it among us equally, but that our gender, race or sexual preference should not inhibit those opportunities.

I believe in the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I believe each person has the right to follow his or her faith PROVIDING they do not infringe on another person’s personal rights.

I believe in the separation of church and government.

I believe a woman has the right to control her own body, and her choices are between her, her God, and her doctor.

I believe in science.

I believe the world is round.

I believe we have a responsibility to take care of our planet for future generations.

I believe the president of the United States is an elected official who swears an oath to serve the people and follow the Constitution. He is not supposed to be a dictator.

I believe as a citizen of this country I have the right to say when I feel the president is wrong or behaving poorly, and that does not make me Anti-American. 

I believe the job of the president is to serve all people of this country once elected, not just the those who elected him. Those who did not vote for him should not be treated as his enemies, but as Americans who are entitled as any American to their rights under our constitution.

I believe in free speech but understand the words we say have consequences. Others may have to let me say what I want, but they do not have to respect me or like me after I say it.

I believe peaceful protest is our right under our constitution.

While I do not condone violent protests or looting, I also understand that I may not understand how a group might feel so frustrated—so disenfranchised—that they resort to violence. I believe that if we were more empathetic, we could avoid coming to a point of violent conflict.

I believe that as a society we should work together, for a common good. I do not believe building roads, schools, and providing health care is socialism.

I do not believe in calling people ugly names. 

I do not believe in mocking and cruel treatment of our fellow humans.

I find hypocrisy and cruelty unacceptable.

I believe we should take care of the most vulnerable in our society.

I believe dogs are generally better than people. 

(Image: in the spirit of social distancing, I decided to choose something where they are wearing masks to help protect others. I also believe we need to get through this pandemic. Stay safe people.)

Pray for empathy…

Many of us can sit at our computers and make posts about how senseless it is for rioters to burn down their own communities. We can play internet researcher and pull up memes comparing peaceful protests to violent protests. We can act superior and more civilized, shaming those who are protesting violently, and wag a finger at them, pointing out that they are in essence the root of the problem.

Yet until we have empathy and can in some way grasp the depth of their despair, their frustration, this cycle of violence—violence perpetrated by all colors—will continue.

Frankly, I don’t see any end to this until the white community—which I am a part of—can take a moment to step out of our skin and try to understand what people of color of are trying to tell us WITHOUT us making some excuse. We need to listen. We never really listen.

You are being disingenuous if you can honestly say that a murder of an impoverished young black girl doesn’t seem as tragic to our society as when a pretty little girl with blond curls and big blue eyes is murdered. 

It is one reason they came up with “Black Lives Matter.” Yet, instead of trying to listen to what they were telling us—trying to get our attention without burning down buildings—we grew incensed and accused them of saying “only black lives matter.”  We refused to listen to what they were trying to tell us. We intentionally twisted their words. We hijacked their phrase and turned it into “Blue Lives Matter.”

And while violence against police is a serious issue, it was NOT what that discussion was about. We hijacked their discussion. We refused to listen to their problem and only wanted to talk about us. 

And when a football player decided to call attention to the problem by a peaceful protest of kneeling during the National Anthem, we did not listen. Again, we got incensed and accused him of disrespecting the military, in spite of the fact we were repeatedly told that that was not what it was about. Even vets came forward and said they had fought for his right to peacefully protest.

But again, we wouldn’t listen. And those incensed made sure the protestor was punished for his audacity.

And what happens when we refuse to listen to a segment of a society? When we change the subject, make excuses, or point out something they did wrong during another time. 

The frustration builds and then something happens, like a public killing of a man by police officers and idiot people go on social media and mock the tragedy, make light of it, or turn the discussion to bad things the blacks have done over the years, instead of focusing on the tragedy at the moment and the societal problem that enabled it to happen.

What happens is people start throwing things. And I imagine there are other factors too, people behind the scene with their own agendas who provoke those already frustrated citizens for their own motives.

Until we embrace some empathy and step out of our own skin and take a moment to truly try and understand what they are telling us without us making this about us or coming up with excuses, this will never end…and if it does, it will not end well.

Why I will continue sheltering in place…

While the states begin opening up, and covid19 cases and deaths continue to rise throughout our country, my husband and I have made the decision to continue sheltering in place, with minimal contact with the outside world.

The other day I went out in the world for the first time in two months—to take our dog to the vet. I wore a mask and was extremely careful, which included jumping in the shower the moment I got home.

We are luckier than most. There is a meme going around on social media that points out how we are all in the same storm, not the same boat. This pandemic has not hurt us financially, and not only do I love my home, I work from home anyway. Plus, if I have to be quarantined with someone, I am glad it is my husband. He is my best friend.

Some might assume our decision to take the wait and see approach before getting out in the world is because we are both over sixty-five, the high risk group.  While that is part of it, even if we were younger and in prime health, we still wouldn’t be getting back to the world quite yet.

Why? Are we paranoid? Wrapped in fear?

No. It’s about my mother. Mom is 92-years old and lives with us. I am her primary caregiver.  Mom tells me she is ready to move on. She has lived a long life but is tired and wants to continue on her adventure and be with my father again. For us, it will admittedly be easier when she moves on. I will no longer have to make her three meals a day, see to her laundry and cleaning of her room, supervise her when she showers, and hire caregivers when we want to take a trip.  

Does that mean if Don and I were healthier and younger we wouldn’t see the need to be so careful for her sake? After all, there were a number of politicians who insisted the older folks will be okay moving on to get the economy going, they have lived their lives. Seems reasonable, right?

Absolutely not.

Aside from the fact I don’t want my mother to die, even if it will mean I won’t be as tied down, from what I have read, dying of covid19 is torturous and excruciating. And those who suffer typically die alone.

Why would I ever be okay with my mother—the woman who I believe is a loving, nurturing and supportive mother—to spend her final hours in unbearable agony? When my mother finally moves on, I pray it is peacefully, in her sleep. Yet, if she does get sick at the end, I want to be by her side, holding her hand, as I did with my father and mother-in-law. I want to be there for her, as she has always been for me.

I can’t imagine anyone would be okay with a parent or someone they love—even a someone who ultimately was ready to pass—to do it in such a torturous and lonely way. I would not even wish that end on someone I dislike.

And for those out there who protest masks—masks that ultimately help protect the vulnerable should you be a silent carrier—you are the lowest of the low in my estimation. But I won’t spend too much of my time ranting over your selfishness, because Karma is a real thing.

Stay safe people.