Friday, July 5, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

I'm torn between feelings of love and feelings of anger. The anger is for a man, like many men, who couldn't control himself. The love is for the woman who was betrayed. Bruises hurt, but some wounds last forever. I know this. I have seen this. I have damn near lived this. The bruises you see are just the tip of the iceberg.

My Aunt Linda was a stronger woman than her time was willing to accept. She was an RN, a supporter of her whole community. She was the one people called when they needed someone. She was also a woman who suffered violence at home when she first tried to make a life for herself. 

It's hard to understand how a strong woman could "let herself" (dangerous words, these) be abused. My Aunt would have been the first person to rescue a friend in her situation. It was harder for her to rescue herself for the very same reason everyone loved her. She was so full of compassion that she didn't give up on people. She gave people second and third chances. Maybe some women would have left the first time, but I can see my Aunt excusing it once, trying to fix it for a while, hating that it happened with all her heart, before finally coming to the realization that she had been duped. 

It might have taken a notch out of her strength for a time, but she only got stronger in the end, and it never made her mean. She raised her abuser's kid with love and understanding. She didn't even talk him down.

The best, most compassionate people in the world are loved and hated, worshipped and betrayed. Those of us (not me!) that love the most purely will also have to write off the biggest transgressions. It is not fair. Like I said, though, not me. Hit me once, and we're done. I've been that way my whole life. 

I'm also not beloved by the whole community. I'm no martyr, and no one says my name when asked to name the most generous person they know, the most loving. I'm alright, but I'm too cynical and mad to have the kind of open heart that you need to love the hard and ugly people. 

So, I sit here, torn between anger and love. Should I be seeking violent retribution? Should I be softly in the background? Should I let the love win? Or the anger? Seeing as how anger is what brought us to this point, I think I will choose love. For me, this does not mean forgiveness. And that's fucked up. But I can love someone while hating the person who hurt them. I've been doing it my whole life.

So, that's what I'll do. 

It will have to do. 


  1. So powerful, and so hard to feel helpless in that situation. Love this sentence: "The best, most compassionate people in the world are loved and hated, worshipped and betrayed." So true. Thank you.

  2. 1.
    Somewhere in the ether of time, Thomas Jefferson said, “Dr. Franklin?”
    “Yes, Tom?”
    “I fear our American experiment may be failing.”
    Old Ben Franklin sighed. “I have always feared that, my boy. Then again, after the ratification of the Constitution, we did warn that democracy is not—what was that absolutely perfect phrase I heard the last time we went traveling—a spectator sport.”
    “I am reluctant to suggest another adventure in time,” Jefferson said, “but as a founding co-parent of this republic, I burn to do something.”
    “You are not the only one of us who can evolve, Dr. Franklin.”
    “Then I say we act, and we act now.”
    “Is that John Adams speaking to us from the void?” Franklin said. “More importantly, is that same John Adams urging immediate redress, instead of playing the part of a mule, hooves dug into the ground?”
    “You know very well it’s me, Franklin. And this is no joking matter. I have generations of descendants down there, as do both of you, and I could not rest in peace for one moment knowing that our vision for America is rapidly deteriorating into the very type of government many of us spilled our blood and gave our lives to reject.”
    “Our Johnnie does have a point, Dr. Franklin,” Jefferson said. "How horrific would it be to watch power after power granted to the Executive Branch, until it is more representative of a monarchy than what we'd originally planned?"
    “Yes,” Franklin added, “but how to do this without irrevocably changing the future? You saw the results of our last attempt. The Mexicans in camps, my friends. Remember the camps.”
    There was more silence. “It’s a chance we’ll have to take,” Adams said finally. “There are a few strongly worded caveats I would like to append to our Constitution.”
    “That’s my boy,” Franklin said. “To the time machine, then.”

    1. 2.
      They met in corporeal form and the usual sequence of events occurred. Flashing lights, whirring motors.
      “In your zeal, Johnnie,” Franklin said, as the journey got underway, “have you considered a course of action? You remember the fights and compromise it took to get the thirteen original colonies to ratify the Constitution.”
      “The slavery question,” Adams said. “We solve it.”
      The other two men were silent for a long moment until Franklin said in an uncharacteristically small voice, “Johnnie. How?”
      “We give Georgia and South Carolina no quarter,” Adams said. “They will undoubtedly threaten to secede. I say, let them.”
      “John,” Jefferson said in disbelief. “Our fledgling Republic will surely die in its cradle without the South.”
      “Not if we make them an offer they can’t refuse.” Adams paused. “Yes, I have taken a few language lessons from our previous journeys as well.”
      By now they had arrived in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787. But Franklin had yet to open the doors. “Exactly what do you plan to do, Mr. Adams?” Franklin said. “What is this mysterious offer? And how do you devise to put this forth to the many landowners who would rather die than give up their free labor?”
      “Not to mention,” Jefferson said, “compelling the 1787 version of yourself to make such an action.”
      “I have a plan,” Adams said. “Now open this godforsaken door.”
      “No,” Jefferson said, staying Franklin's hand. “We must go back further. We must go to this self-same city, but in the year of our Lord 1775.”
      “Tom,” Franklin said, with a wry smile. “Are we sharing the same thought?”
      “If it’s adding the slavery clause back into our Declaration of Independence and making it stick this time, then yes. We are. And may I quote: ‘He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither...’—Shall I go on?”
      “We remember, Tom,” Franklin said, adjusting his spectacles. “Sadly, we remember.”
      “Then Heaven help us,” John said. “But I’m in agreement. Ending slavery from the start will mend a rift in the fabric of America that if left in the darkness and ignorance, will suppurate, leading to a civil war and the deaths of hundreds of thousands, brother against brother. Think of how this nation would thrive if that war is not waged. How it would truly allow all men and women to be created and treated as equal, as we intended from the start. The question that still confounds me is how we’re going to do it.”
      “It’s simple, my boys,” Franklin said with a smile. “We’ll show them the future.”
      “Are you daft, man?” Adams said. “It’s a tight enough fit with just the three of us in this contraption in our current forms. I don’t know how we’ll transport the whole delegation.”
      “If you can’t get Mohammed to the mountain”—Franklin rejiggered the dials and the whirring and light-flashing resumed—“Bring the mountain to Mohammed. It’s time for a special edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack in which poor old Richard gets into his cups and has the most terrifying vision.”

    2. 3.
      They arrived at the appointed time and place and Franklin, wishing he could have access to some of that new-fangled technology that puts the means of publication in his breast pocket, went about crafting a much shorter version of his usual yearly missive. By dawn, a stack of leaflets found itself on the doorstep of the Pennsylvania State House.
      The three time travelers hung back and watched their fellow delegates grab copies and read. Comments came in bits and snatches, including some guffaws.
      “It seems we’re being well received,” Franklin commented. “Myself included.”
      “Don’t pat yourself on the back too hard yet, Franklin,” Adams said, frowning at the 1775 version of himself, a most disagreeable-looking and sweaty little man. “The proof is in the pudding. Or in this case, in the negotiation.”
      “Is my nose really that big?” Jefferson said.
      But then the real Thomas Jefferson stood, looking imposing drawn to his full height, and requested the floor. After being recognized, he implored the body to return the slavery clause to the document, then expounded on the whys and wherefores for a good hour. He had the full attention of the room. He even offered to free his own slaves, and give any who wished to stay and work on his estate a fair wage—and suggested other landowners should do the same—for the fair and equal future of America.
      “Astounding, Tom,” Franklin said from his hidden perch with the other two time-traveling Founding Fathers. “I didn’t think you had it in you.”
      When that version of Jefferson concluded his speech, there was silence. 1775 Franklin rose and applauded. Then 1775 Adams did. As did each delegate in turn. But there was silence from the South. Georgia and South Carolina asked for a recess. When the body reconvened, both delegations announced that they’d be willing to reopen the debate, and entertained suggestions as to how to replace the lost revenue and labor.
      “It’s working,” Adams whispered to Franklin, grabbing his arm. “I daresay it’s working.”
      “Good show, gentlemen,” Jefferson said, as the three watched the back-and-forth, the end of debate, the call to vote.
      The ayes won.
      The traveling trio remained at the State House after the delegates went off to celebrate at the local pub.
      “You’re awfully quiet, Tommy,” Franklin said.
      After a long pause, Jefferson said, “In the end, though, will it hold? Given the human propensity to look away from our better angels?”
      “I recall us having this same conversation shortly after we signed that document,” Adams said. “Over several tankards in that same tavern house.”
      “The fundamental difference between then and now,” Franklin said, “is that we have the wherewithal to discover for ourselves what we have wrought. The question before us now is if we have the will to do it.”

    3. 4.
      “I fear we must,” Adams said. “For we were the agents of change, therefore we are burdened with the results.”
      Back into the device with the whirring and the flashing. All grew quiet. The door slid open to reveal that they were at the edge of a lush forest of deciduous trees, mainly oak and maple, the air redolent of fresh earth and birdsong. Jefferson stepped out, looking upward in wonder, and touched the bark of a young maple as if in disbelief it was real. “What is this place?”
      “I’d set our controls for Philadelphia, 2028.” He walked out into the future and looked behind him. “Ah. There it is. That’s quite a vision, I must say.”
      Adams finally peered out, deemed it safe enough to exit, and joined the others.
      There, across a broad, tended meadow of public space, replete with children playing and families out enjoying the sunshine, was a city like no other they’d seen in their travels. Towers of glass were interspersed with older buildings, some of the brick and stone variety they’d remembered from the earlier days of Philadelphia.
      “Well, we haven’t burned it to the ground,” Franklin said, cloaking the craft, “so I suppose that’s a feather in our caps.”
      They were startled by a shout, and a large black-and-white ball flying in their direction. The ball hit the ground, rolled, then came to a rest at the edge of the meadow. A dark-haired child sprinted toward them. Then saw them and stopped, eyes huge.
      “Qui etes-vous?” the girl said.
      “I’ll handle this,” Franklin said, then turned to the girl. “Nous sommes…ah, what is that blasted word? Nous sommes cosplayers.”
      The girl smiled. “Ah. Oui, Cosplayers. C’est magnifique, votre costumes. Viens avec moi et rencontre mes amis? Vous ressemblez a Benjamin Franklin! Tres bien!”
      “He is a favorite of mine,” Franklin said in French. “But tell me, young lady. Your French is impeccable. Did you learn to speak it in school?”
      The girl looked puzzled. “Did you not? Are you immigrants?”
      Adams cleared his throat. Franklin warned him off and said, “Yes, as a matter of fact, we are. We’re from England. We travel all around the world, but we don’t know much about this country. We would love to learn more. Do you like living here?”
      “Ah, oui!” The shouting behind her increased. “My friends. They want the ball. But yes. The USF is a most wonderful place to live. Excuse me. You can come play if you like.”
      “We’ll be along presently,” Franklin said, and she waved as she ran back.
      The three Founding Fathers huddled together. “The United States of…France?” Adams said.
      “We became French,” Jefferson said.
      Franklin shrugged. “There are worse things we could have become.”
      They fell into silence, each keeping his own thoughts. Then Adams said, “Why did she only recognize you, Franklin?”
      “It must be my special je ne sais quoi,” Franklin said, with a flourish of his hand, and strolled out into the meadow. “Shall we go exploring, gentlemen?”

    4. Laurie, I love the concept of using time travel to correct past wrongs/problems, but the results never seem to be what we expected/envisioned. Probably a technology best left undeveloped.

    5. Agreed! But that Franklin guy likes to tinker.

  3. JD, we really are our own worst enemies, aren't we.


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