Tag Archives: United States

Remember When We Thought 2021 Would Surely Be Better than 2020?

Standard
michael-jin-VBgDR6aHB3E-unsplash

Boy, were we wrong. It only took 6 days to show us what a train wreck 2021 could be. The attack on our Capitol was a historical low point for American democracy.

Covid-19 continues to rage, and nurses are dropping out of the profession because they are burned out. It doesn’t help that most of the patients that they are seeing are ones who chose not to take the most important step to protect themselves from contracting the disease—getting the free vaccine. People with other health issues are having to wait because Covid patients are using up all the resources including hospital beds, ICUs, and oxygen. That doesn’t seem fair.

In my neck of the woods, schools reopened six weeks ago, and soon they’ll resume all over the country. But are they safe? At least 1000 schools in 35 states have already closed due to Covid outbreaks. I don’t understand how people can be against students being required to wear masks. Yes, it’s not ideal for learning, but neither is illness. How many children will die before parents take the threat of disease seriously? I’m so glad that Greg and I are retired. I would resign if I were still teaching. In fact, that’s what many teachers are doing.

After twenty years, the United States military is out of Afghanistan, and it’s a disaster. I was one of the people who thought it was a good idea to go in, and a good idea to get out. Arguably, there may never have been the possibility of a positive outcome, but it still hurts to see the Taliban take over and ISIS pop out of their hidey hole.

Wildfires and floods continue to devastate our country and the world. Hurricanes pound the Caribbean and the southern and eastern US. Homes, businesses, and countrysides destroyed.

Passengers are beating up flight attendants. Flying hasn’t been fun for a long time, but now it’s a total nightmare.

We all want things to get back to normal, but we’re pushing it, and that doesn’t work. I bet that the combination of Labor Day get-togethers and school openings cause another spike in new Covid cases.

One thing that impressed me in March of 2020 was the outpouring of help that I witnessed in my community and throughout the country. While some people are continuing to be there for others, I now see a general lack of willingness on the part of many to be inconvenienced for one more second. That makes me want to just stay in my bubble, away from the barbaric hordes of rights-demanders.

I’m longing for 2021 to be over. Surely 2022 has to be better than this, right?

I’d Rather Be Dancing United States Folk Dances

Standard

Some US folk dances are all-American; some steal borrow liberally from other countries. These are some of the US-originated dances we do with the Phoenix International Folk Dancers.

12th Street Rag is inspired by the Roaring Twenties. We do it with couples promenading around a large circle or oval.

Chi Balla was set to an Italian song by the American choreographer, Ira Weisburd. It is a mixer, meaning that each time the dancers finish the 8-measure pattern, they progress to a new partner:

It’s been a while since I’ve danced Cotton-Eyed Joe, and I’m not sure if this is the version we do:

Cumbia Semana is a dance with a Latin flavor choreographed by Ira Weisburd:

I know this dance by the name Mozart Hassapiko. Ira Weisburd and Eli Ronen choreographed it using dance steps from the Greek tradition.

This dance is called Hot Pretzels, maybe because of the way the couples’ arms look as they exchange positions:

Yolanda is danced to a Venezuelan song. Ira Weisburd teaches this dance, but it’s not clear to me whether he is the choreographer or not; one website attributes the choreography to Bea Montrose:

Virginia Reel is an old American barn dance:

Some remember Salty Dog Rag as being introduced in the 1950s by Ricky Holden; others say it goes back to the ragtime era circa 1911:

This video claims to be the official choreography for the Macarena, which is danced to a Spanish song but originated in the United States. I only knew the original set of movements, but I like these variations because they make the dance more interesting and fun:

Rebirth of Hope

Standard

I am writing this on Wednesday afternoon after watching Joe Biden’s inauguration. My eyes teared up through his speech, and Amanda Gordon’s poem, and Reverend Sylvester Beaman’s benediction. I feel relieved and hopeful after the nightmare of the last four years and the attack on the Capitol earlier this month. I thank God for this day. I am thankful that Biden is our new president, and I especially welcome his message of healing and unity. As I listened, my heart raised two prayers: Yes, God, make it so! and Show me what I must change in myself to help make the United States the country You want it to be.

To be a united country, and especially a united democracy, does not mean that we all share the same beliefs. How could it? Our beliefs are formed by our faiths, our races and heritages, our upbringings, our educations, our economic statuses, our occupations, and our experiences. We are all different, and each of us brings something unique to the table. So, how do we come together? How can we arrive at consensus?

We need to respectfully listen to one another. Ask people what they mean by what they say. Ask them why they feel as they do. Listen to their stories. Not so that we can change their feelings to match ours, but so that we can understand. And not that we necessarily have to accept their values as our own, but to see what we can learn, to fill in the gaps of our own knowledge.

I believe there are absolute truths, absolute rights and wrongs. But when we hold to our views rigidly and make decisions based on absolutes, our choices may have unanticipated consequences. That’s why we need to consider what people different from ourselves have to say. We need to see the whole picture.

We are going to disagree with each other. But that doesn’t mean we can’t work together to rebuild our country. If we understand each other, we can find ways to support each other. It’s going to take work and change on the part of every individual (yes, I just said you have to change—but I admit I do, too) to heal the division and inequity in our country, and it won’t be fixed in four years. But we can make progress before we hand the work off to the next generations.

Please, God, bless America. Bless our new president. Guide us as we work toward a more perfect union. Amen.