Author Archives: Melissa Edmondson

This is Why

“Why can’t you just get over it?”

“What’s the big deal? You ‘lost.’ Move on.”

“Can’t we all just get along?”

“Give him a chance.”

“This is Sally. Sally voted for Trump. This is Bob. Bob voted for Hillary. Sally and Bob are still friends. Be like Sally and Bob.”

Oh yes. I’ve heard them all.

And so have you.

And each time I hear them, I stop for just a second and consider it. I mean, I like peace. Peace is pretty cool. I like when people get along. I like when we work together and hold hands and move forward. I like to forgive. I like to “let it go.” Those things feel good. And they sound great.

Ah. But then I remember.

I will not get over this.

“Why won’t you let it go?”

Let me try to put this in terms you might understand. Let me show you my why.

I want you to picture this in your mind. A man grabs my 16-year-old daughter and holds a gun to her head. He threatens her. He tells her that the life that she has known is going to change. He makes fun of her friends, her family, her.

I stand by and watch.

I wonder how this happened. Where did this man come from? What did my daughter ever do to him? Why can’t I stop this? He’s too strong. He holds the gun – the power – and I have no idea what to do. I hate him. I hate him for what he’s doing to her. I hate him for instilling this fear into her. I pray that he won’t pull the trigger, but know deep down that even if he doesn’t, so much damage is already done. So much.

And then.

Then I notice he’s not alone.

Standing behind him, is you. No, you aren’t holding the gun to my daughter’s head. And hey, you maybe even don’t agree with him holding it there. You think he’s being a little too rough. You know he’s not really going to hurt her. He’s just saying all that stuff, he doesn’t mean it.

And yet.

Yet.

YOU HANDED HIM THE GUN.

gunThat is my why, people.  THAT is my why.

The fear that this incoming administration has put into the hearts of so many in this country is UNFORGIVEABLE. And if you voted for it, you are to blame.

Are we really going to lose our insurance? Is the LGBTQ community really going to lose their rights? Are disabled children really going to lose protections within the school system?  Is the black community really going to again be looked down upon as the “less thans”?  Is there really going to be a wall built between us and our Mexican friends? Is our country really going to be besties with a dictator who has proven himself vile and evil? Are women really going to be treated as weak and unworthy of respect because our leader deems them so?

You know what? I don’t have those answers. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

But what I do know is this fear.

This fear is real. It’s debilitating.

And I know who is holding that gun.

And I know who handed to him.

Is he going to pull the trigger?  I don’t know if he will or not. But, as for me, the damage is already done.

No, I won’t be getting over this any time soon.

I will remember.

I will remember.

And I will fight with the last breath I have in my body to ensure that no one else will ever be held under that gunpoint again.

Watch me.

***

 

 

 

#WhyIMarch

“I learned I had to stand for something, so I could stand to be me.”
– Martin Sheen

The Women’s March on Washington is next Saturday, January 21, 2017, the day after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office.

And I, Melissa Edmondson, will be there.

My critical father asked me a simple question about this choice.

“Why?” 

Why?  Gosh, how can I answer that? How can I make my dad understand? How can I make anyone understand? How can I make me understand?

Allow me to borrow a few more words from Martin Sheen:

“I do it because I can’t seem to live with myself if I do not. I don’t know any other way to be. It isn’t something you can explain; it is just something that you do; it is something that you are. “

How can I say it any better than he already did?

I don’t know how to not be there.

I don’t know how to turn a blind eye to what is happening around us.

I don’t know how to make myself utter the word “President” before the word “Trump.” I don’t know how to watch as basic rights are being stripped away from the people I love. I don’t know how to watch a wall be built between two groups of people because they are different. I don’t know how to watch our country’s leader play footsie under the table with a horrendous dictator who kills innocent men, women and children with no remorse. I don’t know how to continue being the recipient of the “talking down to” that comes from the men around me. I don’t know how to watch men who don’t even know me make decisions for me about my body.

I don’t know how to watch my friend Jeff die because he is about to lose the insurance that pays for the treatments that are keeping him alive.

I don’t know how to do it.

“I don’t know any other way to be.”

I just don’t.

So, daddy, this is why. Is it the waste of time and money that you say it is? If we’re speaking in immediate terms, sure. Maybe it is. I’m not saving the world. I’m one small little pussy hat-wearing face among many. One little voice that will probably be drowned out by all the others.

But one day.

One day.

I will be remembered.

I will be remembered for speaking up. I will be remembered like the role models and heroes that came before me. My children will remember that I was not silent.

I will remember that I was not silent.

We have to fix this. We HAVE TO FIX THIS.

There is no other choice.

wall

***

“I honestly do not know if civil disobedience has any effect on the government. I can promise you it has a great effect on the person who chooses to do it.”
– Martin Sheen

Broken Theater

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
– Seneca

I feel like I should share something I heard this morning in case someone else needs to hear it too.

I was flipping through the radio stations and I stopped when I heard an announcer telling this story about her taking her two little boys to the movies for the first time ever. They were both young and were very excited to be seeing their first movie in a real live theater. They were running a tad late, and when they finally rushed in, and got their seats, they realized that not only were the previews not showing yet, but the lights weren’t even dimmed and nothing was happening.

After sitting there a while, the attendant came and told them that they were having difficulties and that the movie was not going to be shown in this theater after all. They could still see the show, but would have to be moved to another theater within the building. The older boy understood and was ready to pack up and move down the hall, but the younger one just couldn’t grasp what the man was saying. He sat there and just started boo-hooing because he wanted to see the movie.

He wouldn’t budge.

Finally, after much coaxing from mom and the movie attendant, they finally drug the devastated kid out of the theater and into the next one. Lo and behold, this one was an even bigger theater…more seats, bigger screen, etc. Once the child saw this, he immediately dried it up and went on to enjoy his wonderful first ever movie-going experience.

The radio announcer paused for a minute and then said to think about this in regard to our own lives. This is how we are. We sit and cry in the old theater, refusing to budge, waiting for a movie that is never going to show, all because we don’t understand that if we just let go and get up and move down the hall…bigger and better things are waiting for us.

As someone who has been sitting in an old broken theater, I needed to hear that.

broken-theatre

Accidental Preachin’

“I’m no atheist – I’m lazy. I really do like hassle-free Sunday mornings. I have a problem with organized religion, so I’ve simply opted out. Live and let live, I figure.”
– Lynn Coady

Okay.

So, I accidentally went to church this morning.

*Sigh.*

See, about a year ago, for a plethora of reasons, I kind of gave up on the organized religion thing. Many in my world don’t agree with that decision, but it’s my life and it is what it is. (Disclaimer: I do still go to church with my grandma on occasion. That’s because my love for her is just a smidge stronger than my stubbornness.)

So, generally on any given Sunday morning, you’ll find me lounging at my house doing as little as possible.  (You know – that “resting on the seventh day” thing. I’m still a big fan of that one.)  So, this morning, in keeping with my new Sunday ritual, I groggily woke up a little past 8:00 a.m., stretched, yawned, realized no one else was awake, and proceeded to turn over and go right back to sleep.

But something interrupted my plans.

My husband likes to have the tv on while he sleeps. [Insert huge whiney *SIGH* here. Grrr. I hate that thing.] So, as I attempted to drift off, the sound of the television distracted me. It was turned to the history channel and a show called “The Bible’s Biggest Secrets” was on. Greeeat. Here I am purposely not going to church and what’s keeping me from falling back to sleep?  Church.

So, realizing that going back to sleep was not going to be in the cards, I rolled over to look for the remote. But, alas, as is usually the case, it was nowhere to be found. (I’m convinced that my husband snuggles with that thing and then tucks it safely under his body so I won’t be able to turn the tv off in the middle of the night. He knows me well enough to know that getting up and going across the room to push the power button on the device itself is just totally OUT of the question.) So, realizing that churchin on the history channel was how it was gonna go down, I grudgingly started checking it out.

And whoa.

Okay, so first off, the name of the show itself was The Bible’s Greatest Secrets, so I guess I should have known that this wouldn’t be the typical Sunday morning service. And this particular episode was about Jesus himself.

Now, let me break right here just a second. I don’t care who you are or what you believe, surely you can see that Jesus was pretty cool, right? I don’t think there’s a whole lot of doubt about whether the man existed – he’s pretty much a staple in historical figures. He was here, he did some stuff, then he died. Was he divine? Did he rise again? Eh, that’s for you to decide for yourself, I suppose. But he was here. That part is a fact.

And, in my opinion, dude was awesome.

So, I started watching this show and they were talking about the parable of the Good Samaritan. Now, even if you’re not the church-going type and never have been, you’ve probably heard about the good Samaritan. We still use that term now to refer to anyone who helps another out. But on this show, they dug a little deeper into the story.

samaritanA lot of you may already know what I’m about to say, and I guess I did too on some level, but something about the way they told it on this show this morning really got to me. This “good Samaritan” (an actual Samaritan – a man from Samaria) stopped to help a Jewish man lying on the side of the road.  The man had been beaten and attacked by thieves and left there to die. Many had already passed him by and left him to suffer his fate, including priests.

Now, I had heard this story many times growing up in my grandma’s southern Baptist church, but I had never stopped to think why these people had passed this guy by and not helped.  Frankly, I figured they were just assholes.  But, as it turns out, that Samaritans and Jews were sworn enemies.

They hated each other.

Did I know that? Eh, probably. So, why did this suddenly make so much sense to me today?

Back to the story.  So, finally, along comes this Samaritan and, for whatever reason, while all of the other “enemies” had passed by and left this guy to die, this particular Samaritan just couldn’t do it. He stopped for him. He helped him. He took him to safety.

This was crazy! Unheard of at this time. Practically impossible.

Granted, this story wasn’t a true story exactly. Nothing like this had actually happened, I don’t suppose. It was one of his famous parables. The stories that Jesus, the King of Metaphors, would tell his followers as lessons – guides so to speak. He wanted his followers to be like that Samaritan. To overlook what society was telling them about this group of people, and look at this one man as an individual. Help him. Reach inside yourself and do what you know to be right rather than what status quo would have you believe.

Gee, sound familiar?

So, anyway, the guy on the history channel went on to explain how this was pretty much Jesus’s whole intention. He was the new status quo. He was a barrier breaker. A wall destroyer. A curtain splitter.

But what happened to him? Well, things didn’t end so well. He stood up to authority and he paid for it. As the history channel host put it:

“When you attack a barrier, you run the risk of being destroyed by its collapse.” 

Wow.

Now, this doesn’t say you WILL be destroyed. You just run the risk. There’s a sacrifice to be made.

One more thing that was mentioned on the show: turning the other cheek.  This is another one of those lessons from Jesus that many of us, religious or not, have probably heard throughout our lives. Here’s the actual verse itself:

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” – Matthew 5:39 KJV

(Notice I used the King James version for you die-hards who may be reading this. Actually, I probably lost you guys when I used “asshole” up there. Sorry about that.)

Anyway, so most of us who have heard that over the years, probably have heard it as “be a doormat.” I mean, really. That’s what it has always sounded like to me. If someone beats the hell out of you, don’t fight back. Let them beat the hell out of the other side just to keep it balanced. Right? And while I appreciated the whole “be a peacemaker” sentiment, it never quite seemed fair to me. I mean, I’m a redhead. I’m a fighter. This whole ‘standing down’ stuff isn’t exactly my cup of tea.

But the history channel dude made me understand this a little better.

Pay attention to what the verse actually says. That phrase in the beginning – “resist not evil.” Think about what that means. Don’t resist evil. The word “resist” means to “withstand the effect of.”  Jesus was saying don’t withstand the effect of evil. Don’t just let it happen. Stand there. Resist it. He wasn’t saying just keep beating the hell out of me and I’m going to let you. He was saying, “I’m not budging.”  Keep on throwing your punches, I’m still standing here. Here, throw another punch. Do whatever it is you think that will get me to stand down, but I won’t. No, I won’t retaliate in the way that you are. I won’t fight fire with fire. I won’t abide by the old “eye for an eye” mentality. I am not you. But I will not give up. I’m a pacifist. I don’t believe in that method.  But I will not be moved.

I will not be moved.

Wow.

I don’t know about you, but as I listened this morning, all I could think about was now. Look at what is happening around us. Look at the evil that has come in the form of authority. Look at the status quo of today’s world – the judgment based on who is supposed to be our enemies. We are told that people are different so they must be bad. We are told to judge all by the actions of a few. We are told to build walls. We are told to keep walking by and leave people to die on the side of the street because they are the enemy.

And what would Jesus say about that?

I will not be moved.

I may have to run out and buy myself one of those WWJD bracelets. Because I think I finally get it. And what a crying shame that those in authority who claim to be such God-fearing Christians don’t seem to “get it” themselves.

What would Jesus do?

Well, I can tell you what. It sure as hell wouldn’t be what is happening in our country these days.

Okay, sermon is over.   You’re released.

***

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
– Dalai Lama

 

Christmas Poem

‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Lay teenagers sleeping
A snoring husband and one grouch.

The election was over
(The whole country lost)
And my heart’s temperature
Could rival Jack Frost’s.

Recent politics and worry
Were still stuck in my head.
Sleep wouldn’t come
So I tossed in my bed.

So far I’d not heard
One jingle bell ring.
Where was the joy
This season should bring?

When suddenly a noise
Cut into my doom and gloom
A crash, some clatters
A few bangs and one boom!

Could it be? Was it really?
Could Santa be here?
Had he arrived just in time
To bring me Christmas cheer?

As usual, my cohabitants
Kept snoring away
I peeked out the window
For a glimpse of the sleigh.

No reindeer in sight,
I wrapped up in my gown,
Headed for the stairs
And then made my way down.

Anticipation mounting,
The living room drew near,
I softened my footsteps,
Stayed silent to hear.

Would old Saint Nick
Finally be caught in the act?
Would forgotten childhood magic
Come flooding back?

My excitement was palpable
I was giddy with glee.
I still couldn’t believe
Santa was here to see me!

I got my camera ready.
(I’d do whatever it took
To get of a photo of Santa
To post on Facebook.)

Unable to contain
My impatience much more,
My iPhone and I,
We burst through the door!

And what did my wonder-filled
Eyes get to see?…
The cats had knocked over
The damn Christmas tree.

No Santa, no sleigh bells,
No presents galore.
Just tinsel and ornaments
Scattered all on the floor.

As has been the mother’s duty
From the dawning of time,
I stooped down to clean
A mess that wasn’t mine.

This story could end here.
A sad tale, yet true.
But this is not
What a poet must do.

A poet finds lessons
In all that abounds,
A poet must turn
This sad story around.

While sweeping up tinsel
I found in its wake
Homemade childhood ornaments
With nary a break,

Presents still wrapped with
A mother’s loving care
For children, nearly grown,
Still sleeping upstairs.

I swept up the mess
In my warm, cozy home,
Sat down on the couch
In the silence, alone.

Realized this ole world
Would keep turning around
Even as politics and Christmas trees
Come crashing down.

The life that still mattered
Surrounded me in this place,
My family and I?
We’d still show loving grace.

We’d treat strangers with kindness
We’d put others at ease
We’d help others up
When brought to their knees.

The spirit of Christmas
(Acceptance and love)
Was still in our hearts,
Still what we were made of.

No President, no politics
Would be changing that.
Our family, each other,
That’s where it’s at.

Looking around at the tidy
Living room once more,
I rose from the cushions,
Put my feet on the floor.

Enough of this sadness
Enough of this gloom
I’d put myself back together
Just as I’d done this room.

Tomorrow was Christmas
A good time to begin
To move back towards the person
I was once again.

Nothing would put me
Back into that slump,
Not even the thought of
Old President Trump.

I went back to my husband
And turned out the lights.
Merry Christmas to all
And to all a good night.

christmas-cat

***

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
– Charles Dickens

Let Us Grieve

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”
– Bryant H. McGill

***

So, here’s the thing. I have a little favor to ask of you, my fellow Americans. It’s not much. Just a tiny little thing you might be able to do for me.

STOP MINIMIZING OTHER PEOPLE’S FEELINGS.

Okay?

Seriously, y’all. Stop it.  Now.

What does that mean? you ask.  “Minimizing other people’s feelings?” Valid question. So here, let me give you a few examples:

“Stop whining.”

“It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Calm down.”

“Get over it.”

If I had a dollar for every variation of those I’ve seen in the past 24 hours, I’d have enough money to advance to the presidency myself.

Here’s the deal. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, okay? Ready?

We don’t give a shit who the president of the United States is.

Yup, there it is. I said it.

Is that not very patriotic of me? Eh, maybe not. But it’s the friggin truth. Are we going to be inviting him over for dinner? Is he going to be babysitting our kids? Giving us marriage advice?  Exchanging presents with us on Christmas Eve?

No. He is nothing to us.

WE DON’T CARE.

But here’s what we do care about.

How the rhetoric and example of the person in the highest, utmost position of honor in our country is going to trickle down to the people we are around every day.

Think it doesn’t really matter?

Think again.

Yesterday, kids all over America asked to stay home from school. I know, because mine was one of them. Were they overreacting? Making a big deal out of nothing?  I don’t know. You tell me.

“I turned out the lights on my third graders at 7:38. They come in my room at 7:35. They were arguing about the election within minutes of walking in my room. I turned out the lights and told them that the election was not going to change how we treated each other and we would not be discussing it. They are eight years old. My class doesn’t fight. They were yelling at each other. If kids are acting this way, how far will adults go?”

These are the words from a THIRD GRADE teacher in our small, rural town in North Carolina today.

Third graders.

A facebook status from a concerned friend of adoptive parents:

“So, I’ve been holding this in all day but would like to share it with you now. A friend of mine and his wife have an adopted son from Central America. He came home scared and confused from school yesterday and said that some kid told him that if Trump wins the election then would be sent back to Mexico. My friends had not discussed Trumps policies with their son so this idea was coming straight from others. Connect the dots. This is simple and basic and real. It’s not some media pundit taking up air time. This is our America and it pisses me off. If you think this a problem in our society and would like to discuss how we can fix it then I welcome your thoughts. If you don’t recognize this as a problem then you are part of the problem…”

Again. Right here in Nowhere, North Carolina.

Or better yet.  Here.  How about this one?

“’Yes, sweet boy, God loves you. I love you too.”’

A co-worker whispered these words in answer to a sobbing student today. A student who was born in America, just like my girls. A student who takes care of his siblings and takes on more responsibility on his shoulders than my girls have ever known.

This student walked into his school today to taunting, “You’re going to be sent back to Mexico.” He buried his scared, hurt face in his teacher’s shoulder, and we found a safe place for him to cry. Through my own tears I said, “Find the good people to hang out with today. There is bad, but there are always good people.” And I prayed in my heart, please God, keep letting the good show up.”

That was a middle-school teacher in our same little rural town.

“Please God, keep letting the good show up.”

We are in the middle of nowhere, people. Obama, Trump, Hillary…those people are never going to step foot in this little town that is so far off of an interstate we barely know how to tell people to get to one. We don’t care which one of them is sitting in the oval office at any given time. We really don’t.

THIS is what we care about.

Each other.

If you think this election doesn’t affect every single person walking across this land we call home, you are sadly mistaken. If you are one that can just shrug it off and go about your business and not let it affect you – hallelujah. Good for you. I’d trade places with you in a heartbeat.

But I’m not.

These parents aren’t.

These teachers aren’t.

These students aren’t.

We are in pain, people. Our country is broken. Our hearts are broken. For lack of a more eloquent term, we are treating each other like shit.

And that hurts.

Some of us cry. Some of us rage. Some of us become smartasses. Some of us hide, some of us fight. We all have different ways of dealing with our emotions, but the underlying emotion remains the same.

Fear.

We are scared. We are petrified. We don’t know what is happening to us because most of us haven’t lived through something like this. This is new to us. Those of us under a certain age don’t remember segregation. Stories of the Holocaust are just stories in a history book. Same with stories of the misplaced Indians (well, unless you’re paying attention to the non-front-page headlines these days). We read those stories and we try to empathize but we weren’t there. We don’t understand it.

But when we see a little Mexican boy crying because his peers are telling him he’s going to be deported to a country he has never even seen?

Yeah. Suddenly, it’s real. We feel that.

If you don’t feel it, if you don’t have to experience it, if you’re not around the people who are acting like this – good for you. Really, good for you. I’m happy for you. I hope the rest of the world catches up to the utopia you’re surrounded by.

But for the rest of us out here?

This is very real.

We are hurting. We are scared.

And we deserve your respect.

americacry