Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Syrian Refugees Are Welcome Here

 Syrian Refugees Are Welcome Here
I am not expressing any concern for the Syrian refugees because I am not doing anything about it. Yes, they can come here. No, I do not have a spare bedroom.
What is the point of merely expressing concern? There has been a great deal of shallow posturing on social media about this. Yes, you have a right to an opinion. But are you actually doing anything about it?
I don't care how you feel. Tell me what you are doing.
Becoming an American. Speaking of refugees landing on our shore.........It's possible to become an American, but it's never been easy. Newcomers were given the worst jobs and lived in the worst neighborhoods. They were mocked and abused and worse. People said they looked funny and they couldn't speak English and their food smelled awful. People said much worse than that, but over a period of time, we got used to them, and they became like us, and we became a little like them. But it was always difficult.....It was never easy. Immigrants today are treated with more tolerance than in years past.
Cultural appropriation. I confess. It started with pizza -- I didn't think anyone would mind. I thought I was being cool. But it got much worse. Listening to Marvin Gaye late at night, taking karate lessons, reading Black Elk Speaks, doing Zen, and not just eating salsa but talking about it like I knew the context. Finally, I asked for help.
Donald Trump. I have not figured out how to get Donald Trump to shut up.
Islam. It's all about Islam. It's all about God. It's all about religion. You can say otherwise. Say it all you want. My devoutly secular friends want it to be about "criminality" or "psychopathic tendencies" or "becoming marginalized." 
Hillary Clinton and President Obama express this idea most sincerely. Because they want it to be true. But it's not true. It's all about Islam. It's all about God. It's all about religion.
I should pretend it's not about Islam because my Moslem friends won't like me if I criticize their culture? We should mince words?
Christendom and Islam have been at odds for 1,500 years. These are competitive systems, sometimes at war, sometimes at peace. Currently we are at war with Islam. Not for the first time. We will survive. They will survive. We might even achieve a more lasting peace. I have hope of that.
But we are not friends. Not now.
Substandard Housing. When I lived in the Skagit Valley, it was always hard for me to make a living, and I had very little money and I settled for living in shacks and trailers and low rent dumps. So I lived in the great beauty of the Skagit Valley, but my own premises were really crappy...... That was the deal I made. It was like I got to live there but not live well....I'm so glad I left.
(I left out my ex-wife and my two grown children who were with me in those shacks. I might ask them how they feel about it. My ex-wife has returned to Oklahoma, back to the home town where she started out. I speak with her on the phone now and then. Susan Semple. A lot of Skagit Valley people will remember her. My son Eugene is a librarian in Los Angeles and he lives in a nicely appointed apartment in a good neighborhood  -- no shack for him. My daughter Eva lives in Ballard, in Seattle, and she is quite comfortable in her residence. She has no longing for the old farmhouse we lived in.)

Chinese Characters. Let me know if you cannot see the photo I inserted here. This is a page from my Chinese notebook. I draw the characters over and over again. Repetition leads to success. The two characters are "many" and "hand."   Together they make "many hands."  or in Latin letters "duo shou."  I have not progressed too far in pronunciation, as I am in search of a learning partner -- some Chinese student who wants to improve his English. We can make an exchange.
Laurie and I hope to visit China soon. If I learn some Chinese I will be able to read street signs and say stupid things.
We discussed Islam earlier in this newsletter. Islam and the Middle East are saturated with religion, hip-dip, wall-to-wall. China, by contrast, is the least religious of all cultures. That's why I like it. In China it's not about God and it's not about religion. That is a relief from the drumming sounds of war
Gardens. Spend more time in the garden. Go to work on a farm. These are safe places. Never a terrorist attack in these places. When traveling abroad, visit vineyards and parks. And always be attentive to your surroundings, no matter where you are.
Or you can hang out with horses.
Happy Thanksgiving. Happy thanks, everybody.

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Fred Owens
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My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
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