Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

Man’s Inhumanity to Man — June 28, 2018

Man’s Inhumanity to Man


Recent media focus has been on our government’s inhumane treatment of asylum seekers.

As individuals, we must rise above such actions.

Historical Note About the Phrase, “Man’s Inhumanity to Man”

In 1784, Robert Burns wrote the poem, Man was made to Mourn: A Dirge:

Man's inhumanity to man

History records the possibility that Burns reworded a similar quote from a writing in 1673 by Samuel von Pufendorf: “More inhumanity has been done by man himself than any other of nature’s causes.”

Other writers have used the words “[m]an’s inhumanity to man” in their own written works. There are several books using the philosophy of the phrase as an underlying theme. A representative list of includes: Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. 

Why Bring This Quote Into the Conversation Now?

The answer is too simple: Our national, as well as international news, has been filled with the inhumanity of the United States government toward men, women, and children seeking safe harbor from inhumane treatment in other countries.

Granted we are not the first nor the only country committing acts of inhumanity against our fellow-man. It seems it happens every day somewhere. The news is so depressing as to make one shy away from watching or listening. But then, how to stay informed about what your country’s government is doing?

Do Those in Charge Even Know What They Are Doing?

A post written by Author Janet Givens, When Words Matter: Refugees or Immigrants?, highlights the issue of how we should label the people attempting to cross into the United States. Givens also touches on why they left their homeland in search of a better place? Be sure to take some time to read Givens’ blog post

To move toward answering this question, I personally don’t believe anyone in Washington, D.C., or at the border knows who the people attempting to cross the border are or why they are giving up everything and risking their lives to get here.

Most of the people arriving at our southern border are fleeing the violent area known as Central America’s Violent Northern Triangle. The triangle is composed of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, three countries rocked by civil wars in the 1980s and now overrun with violence, corruption, drug trafficking, and gang violence.

The men, women, and children attempting entry into the United States are not immigrants or migrants as the news media are calling them. Even the President and his Press Secretary refer to them as migrants. I won’t go into what other descriptors the President uses when referring to these people. Immigrants and migrants they are not. They are refugees seeking asylum in our country because their homelands are rife with gangs and violence that causes them to fear for their lives. Refugees from the Northern Triangle cite gang violence, forced gang recruitment, and extortion, as well as poverty and lack of opportunity as reasons for fleeing their homes and risking their lives to come to our border.

Thanks to our government we are treating these refugees inhumanely.

The U.S. Attorney General, citing the Bible no less, directs us to Romans 13:

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Ind. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.” (Washington Post, “Acts of Faith,” June 15, 2018, by Julie Zauzmer and Keith McMillan)

In the same Washington Post article, John Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, is credited with this quote alluding to Romans 13 as an unusual choice:

“There are two dominant places in American history when Romans 13 is invoked. said John Fea. . . . “One is during the American Revolution [when] it was invoked by loyalists, those who opposed the American Revolution.

“The other,” Fea said, “is in the 1840s and 1850s, when Romans 13 is invoked by defenders of the South or defenders of slavery to ward off abolitionists who believed that slavery is wrong. I mean, this is the same argument that Southern slaveholders and the advocates of a Southern way of life made.”

According to an article in The Root, this stance places AG Sessions in exceptional company:  (1) Slave owners used it to justify the Fugitive Slave Act; and (2) Hitler cited it to rebuke Christians who stood against the rise of his Nazi Party.

The majority of the people attempting to cross our border seek asylum, which is legal. When they indicate to border officials they are seeking asylum for humanitarian reasons (see the conditions in their countries above), a court date is assigned (often more than a year) and the wait for an acceptance or rejection at that court hearing begins.

Do the Actions of Our Government Constitute Inhumanity?

In my opinion, our country’s actions in separating families constitute inhumanity. It is the equivalent of declaring these refugees as criminals, ripping their children away from them, and everybody goes to a detention camp but not in the same location. Children are frightened. Their parents brought them to America because of an authoritarian society in their homeland. And now the U.S. government is behaving like an authoritarian government. Parents don’t know where their children are, children wonder what happened to their parents and these little ones are fearful, and our government hasn’t kept accurate records of these refugees.

Even though the government says it is attempting to reunite families, these people are no better off than they were before they left the Northern Triangle. Our reputation as a democratic country is rapidly declining.

What can we do? 

We can start by practicing compassion and kindness on a daily basis. Look around you. There are many in our cities and towns without shelter, in need of food and clothing, and agencies struggling to assist them. You can start by making donations of food and clothing, or if you’re able give a monetary donation.

However, scenes in the media bring tears to our eyes and a sudden desire to help the people we see there. In this bigger picture, we can find ways to help those seeking asylum in our country. For example, the children separated from their parents tug at our hearts. As I read through my Twitter feed, I came across a retweet of a post by John J. Kelley, a writer living in D.C.

The Cut, one of several online newsletters/magazines from New York Media, posted What You Can Do Right Now to Help Immigrant Families Separated at the Border. This article lists methods of help which should be available in towns and cities across America. Reaching out to help is what we as caring, compassionate Americans can do. Let’s do it!

If you’ve already become involved in a way to help, please share with us in the comments below.


Featured Image Attribution: 
Jordi Bernabeu Farrús: A border patrol agent apprehends an immigrant who illegally crossed the border from Mexico into the U.S. in the Rio Grande Valley sector, near McAllen, Texas, U.S., April 2, 2018. Picture taken April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott USA-IMMIGRATION/BORDER.
Per Creative Commons License: I have not changed the image by making additions or deletions thereto. 

A Day in the Life | March Madness (Episode #7) — March 22, 2018

A Day in the Life | March Madness (Episode #7)

DIL_ March Madness #7_Sm

Between February and October 2015, I wrote six posts in my “A Day in the Life” series. Not long after the October post, I fell and opened a large can of medical woes which I still battle off and on.

I want to resurrect that series because I enjoyed sharing memories of some of my life experiences with you. So, today we begin again and hope to post many more than six.

The Day the Madness Started

From high school forward, basketball was my sport, favorite of them all. The basketball bug bit with my first pep rally for the basketball teams. Then in 1964, my senior year, our high school boys’ team was red hot and on a roll. Donelson High’s school spirit came alive that basketball season. I can still hear and feel the electricity, enthusiasm and excitement at each pep rally. And then to have our boys come out on top!

Donelson High School Boys’ Basketball Team, State Champions, 1964 (Nashville Tennessean)

During college, I learned of the NCAA tournaments, better known as March Madness. I wavered between the men’s and women’s games. I loved watching the University of Tennessee women’s team. I had high school friends playing under the great Pat Summit. But I also had a fondness for the Duke Blue Devils and still do.

Ironically, this last weekend Coach K surpassed Summit’s record number of wins. It was a bittersweet moment when Coach K responded to the report that he would rather have Summit around than pass her record.

Fast forward to 1997

A move to my last law firm in a string of several took me to Perkins Coie LLC in Portland, Oregon. My days there were still in the “probationary 90-day period” when a young paralegal came to my desk. Houston said he had a question for me. I thought it related to a case he was working on. But that was not it. He wanted to know if I wanted to go in on the office March Madness pool.

Never having participated in a sports pool before, I didn’t want to appear dumb so I said I would. I handed Houston a $5 bill and took a copy of the bracket from him. I had no idea how to “guess” who’d beat who, but I’d give it a try.

With my lack of experience behind me, the only thing I thought would work was to put my favorite team, Duke, in the final game. Then I worked my way backward with Duke and then randomly filled in other spots. In some games, I sort of knew who was the stronger of the two teams and hoped I was right.

Each day and game seemed to make the wait to hear the pool results farther and farther away. Would that last day ever come when the winner would be announced?

And the Winner Is…

Finally, the big day arrived. I don’t even remember how the announcement was made but when it was made, it was my name that was in the winning position. I had won the March Madness pool beating out the attorneys and most of the men in the office.

I know when to hang up my gloves and end the madness. I never again entered that pool. Why mess with success? If you’re doing well, it’s time to think about retirement from the sport. And the March Madness bracket and its pools is definitely a sport.

Do you have any March Madness memories you’d like to share, or a story to tell about a family member and their sports excitability? Use the comment section below and share with us.

Attribution featured image: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from article by Neil Greenberg of  The Washington Post
Turbulent and Emotional Times (Part II) — November 22, 2016

Turbulent and Emotional Times (Part II)

TURBULENT and emotional times

Last week I posted my thoughts and opinions on the turbulent journey we are facing. It was not an uplifting nor light piece.

Today I want to bring hope and light to the page. I believe we have to react with hope and faith in order not to normalize what is happening in our government. Hope coupled with faith helps me hold my personal beliefs strong and founded on solid ground.

But like me, you’ve probably been asking what can I do? how can I help? who needs me to come along? and more. And we’re watching for the light.



One thing we have done in our home is agree to limit our intake of news programming by the media. We all are aware that today’s media networks tend to over hype the news they bring us. Media networks, like each of us, have a political preference which impacts their programming.

Here’s what we’ve decided has permission to come into our home daily:

  • PBS NewsHour will be the first TV news we see each day.  We appreciate the intelligent presentation of news items. Most often one or more opinions from authorities on the subject are included.
  • We then watch the late local news, usually on an ABC affiliate.
  • Other news arrives in digital from the New York Times, NPR News, NPR Alerts, and The Oregonian.

I am the only user of social media in our home. Stepping back from Facebook and Twitter to a low profile has drained a lot of the vitriol from my life.

I urge you to think about eliminating how much negative information you read. It has helped us meet a more normal balance of emotional health since the election.


Many opportunities awaited us before and after the election. These opportunities allow us to give back some of our bounty to the marginalized in our community. I have researched and found several organizations accepting monetary and other donations.

  • Look for organizations in your community providing help to victims of domestic violence. Offer your time or financial support. Domestic abuses heighten in times of turmoil and tension in the rest of our world.
  • Planned Parenthood is always in need of volunteers and financial support.
  • The ACLU stands ready to protect all of usWhy not become a member? If there is a chapter nearby, volunteer to help in some way as a writer, teacher, mentor.
  • The Southern Poverty Law Center functions to combat hate, intolerance and discrimination. The Center operates from donations. Legal fees are not charged to those they help, so donations are important.
  • Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization. Reach Out and Read operates to incorporate books into pediatric care. The programs encourage families to read aloud together. Reach Out and Read appreciates financial donations. Check out their volunteer page and find a way to find a program in your area and a list of ways you can take part. You can help by donating books, leading a program, reading to a child. What better way to give hope and promise of a future.
  • Volunteers often work with English as a second language students, both children and adults. Students learn to read and write English and converse. Check with schools and community colleges that might offer such programs.
  • Our local church home is one way we connect with the marginalized in our community. Often we help prepare meals for the hungry and work with Habitat for Humanity to build houses. Our congregation welcomes a homeless family a place for temporary shelter.

This list offers suggestions only. Each community has its own needs, and I’m certain  you will be able to find a way to give back. By giving back, our lives are enriched. In the current political climate, we may find more people living on the margins than before. To counteract our own feelings, we must act and offer some type of help.


The following are articles which crossed my desk via my computer. I found them helpful. Some of the suggestions above came from the Nicholas Kristof article.


I believe in the power of writing. Writing sends our feelings, opinions, and beliefs on a variety of topics out to others. We have to continue to write. Search for publications looking for essays, short stories (fiction or nonfiction), poetry and submit something giving hope to future tomorrows.

We can also look for writing programs in our communities aimed at helping young writers. One example I found is Girls Write Now, a New York-based program. Review their site. Perhaps those of you in large cities will find something like this to use your writing skills. WriteGirl in Los Angeles is seeking mentors to work with girls and young women. Mentors may be either male or female


Whatever you choose to take part in–peaceful protests, a Veterans program, reading to children, donating food and dollars to the hungry, providing warm clothes for the coming winter, and other ways–remember the message to deliver is one of love and hope.

We are in early days yet and although things may still look dark, I cling to the hope that the system of checks and balances put into place by our Founding Fathers holds strong.

Ours is a great country. We have had our struggles in decades past but no one ever said America was not a great country until someone said, “Make America great again.” She has always been great, and she still is.

Think on these words, if nothing else:

Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance.
It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in
waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be
righteous as well as strong.

~James Bryce

Turbulent and Emotional Times (Part I) — November 17, 2016

Turbulent and Emotional Times (Part I)


Over the past week, many of us have walked through some turbulent times and dealt with turbulent emotions. Many people are worried, fearful, depressed. Others find themselves mistrusting, despairing, experiencing incredulity. They are not alone. Many of us have been there with them. But these were not the feelings I had anticipated experiencing.

Growing up, I was a dreamer, literally. I dreamed about books and their characters, school, friends, fantasies, and even nightmares. As I grew into my teens, I even dreamed of politics and campaigns.

I dreamed dreams


My political dreams began with my first participation in a presidential campaign. I was 15 years old and campaigning for John F. Kennedy in the 1961 race. Too young to cast a vote, my parents gave me their blessing to volunteer for the local JFK office.

To my delight, JFK won. I felt certain I had something to do with his success in that race. Standing on street corners and in shopping malls was important work. I knew handing out fliers and brochures surely won the race!

JFK’s inaugural speech brought tears to my eyes. His words so powerful, so meaningful:

My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

My heart thrilled each time I heard him speak or read something about his dreams for America. Among a long list of accomplishments in his too short presidency included:

  • Socio-economic improvements in housing, welfare, and food programs for the poverty-stricken;
  • Broadening Social Security benefits for the elderly of our nation;
  • Formation of the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities; and
  • Strides in closing the racial divide in our country.

JFK made a difference in America. No doubt about it in my opinion.

Then came November 1963. John F. Kennedy died with a bullet shot from the gun of an assassin. My dreams for our first Catholic president ended with shattering results. I remember darkness enveloping me as I heard our school principal announce the startling news. And the darkness didn’t lift for days. I watched as a stunned wife and mother stood by her husband’s casket. No expression in her face. Stoic and courageous. As a young woman, this was a new dream–to be stoic and courageous in all I attempted.


The 2008 Election

Fast forward to the 2008 election. Barack Hussein Obama, II, was a rising star after a powerful keynote speech given at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Obvious leadership characteristics included intelligence, expertise in Constitutional law, and eloquent speaker.

One of my dreams growing up in the racist South was to see an African-American hold the highest office in the land. This didn’t happen until after I moved to more liberal Portland, OR. I wanted to see the stereotypical image of these people negated forever. Mr. Obama represented the man who could do this in my dreams. He exhibited honesty, compassion, and love toward all people. What more could we ask for?

Life wasn’t healthy for me during this election so I didn’t have the privilege of campaigning for Mr. Obama. But I was a proud supporter from the family room where our TV lives. Life wasn’t easy for the Obama campaign either. His birth came into question. His Christian beliefs came under scrutiny. The color of his skin became a question on the lips of many. We’d never had an African-American in the Oval Office. How would it work?

During his inaugural speech, President Obama shared these words:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor — who have carried us up the long rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

President Obama saw us as we are and should be: a whole made up of many parts. The divisions among us have been of our own making. The wealthy rise to the top. Those with lesser wealth huddle somewhere in the middle. The poor struggle obscurely in whatever workplace they can find.  Yet, President Obama gave credit to all, including the least among us, for America’s rise to greatness.

Richard Blanco appeared as the fifth inaugural poet at the 2009 inaugural ceremony. Blanco is the first Latino, first openly gay-identified person, and youngest person to serve as an inaugural poet. Listen as Blanco presents his poem written for this occasion, One Today. I felt that Blanco’s poem spoke for each American, emphasizing we are one, making up that whole President Obama would mention in his speech.

The 2012 Election

His first term worked well, and President Obama was re-elected in 2012 to a second term. War wasn’t kind to President Obama, but it was a problem inherited with his first term. Veterans began to speak out of unfairness in health care when they returned home. Their families weren’t cared for as well as expected. Then there were the ominous images from the situation room during the Benghazi attack. It appeared these cracks in the walls of this administration would be troublesome.

As these years sped by I felt we were still moving forward in hope. Moving toward a time when our country would be more united than ever before. I hoped for a time when every man, woman and child, regardless of skin color, religion, lifestyle, education, employment, ethnicity would be equal under the American flag.


2016 Final Electoral College Results
2016 Final Electoral College Results

The election of 2016 disappointed me. You see I had a dream for this contest as well. A dream that a woman would break the glass ceiling and take the seat in the Oval Office, one never occupied by a woman.

On November 8, 2016, as I listened to the election results, the dark curtain of doom began to settle around me. It wasn’t going to be, was it? No, it wasn’t.

I don’t remember shedding tears over a lost election before. I probably wouldn’t have. But the winner here has some disturbing characteristics and behaviors. He associates with people who hold beliefs adverse to mine. A thread of racism and exclusivity ran through much of his rhetoric during his campaign and still does even now.

The days following November 8th reminded me of the days post-September 11, 2001. Feelings of disbelief, incredulity, mistrust, dubiety, and skepticism hung over my head. My heart ached.

Then the riots began in my hometown as well as many other cities across the nation. In Portland, a newly formed activist group, Portland’s Resistance, organized the protest. Their intent was a peaceful protest. Anarchists preyed on the peaceful protesters turning the it into a riot. In all, the police arrested 71 persons, most of whom live out-of-state.

The actions of the rioters did not make many of us here in Portland happy. The activist group did not cause any of the damages reported. Yet they stepped up to raise the funds to pay for the damages. Anytime there is a protest the anarchists come out and take advantage, but they never take responsibility.

I understand why the people gathered to protest. That’s how I felt too. I wanted to protest in some way. I knew there were people hurting and afraid as the news rolled out. Who wouldn’t be afraid having heard the promises from the campaign trail?  Who wouldn’t have cause for concern with what our new president-elect planned for America?


There are many ways to show our displeasure and in the process give help to others. Many ways of helping appear online through social media, blogs, news articles, and more. A few suggestions have included wearing a safety-pin to show your solidarity with the fearful, the pin indicating to the marginalized you are a safe person. Others have shared the best ways to connect with your representatives in Washington. Attending town hall meetings in your area. Become involved as a volunteer. Sign a petition. Don’t just accept everything as normal until it unravels, and there’s nothing we can do.

In the second part of this post, I will list specific ways writers can bring hope to our country today. Will you join me and make a difference?


On Turning 70, Joy in Writing, and Gratitude — April 11, 2016

On Turning 70, Joy in Writing, and Gratitude



Via Daisy Blue Designs
Via Daisy Blue Designs

The prospect of reaching my eighth decade (in the minds of some aging, in other words) in February never bothered me. I looked on the process as part of my life cycle and enjoy catching up each year for a couple of months when my husband is only eight years older. Like most others, I celebrated this birthday with Bob and our son and his wife over dinner at a favorite restaurant with much chatter and laughter. Then we went our separate ways.

It dawned on me in the next few days my husband would turn 79 in April, a year away from 80. That rocked my foundation much more than did my own changing decade. Was it because the 80s tend to be a downturn for some, or that he is in poor health? Neither of these things apply to Bob. But somehow a shift change took place within me.

Perhaps it related to the fall I took in January. Yet those injuries were healing well, and I felt like normal was on the horizon. A writing workshop the last weekend in February was coming up. Bob was going along to meet some of my writing friends and enjoy a couple of days at the coast. Life couldn’t be better, or so it seemed.

Fast forward to that weekend in Yachats, Oregon, and suddenly 70 looked worse than I first thought. I left the conference early to come home and nurse unexpected and unexplained severe back pain. As always, it took several days and doctors’ visits to decide the cause of the pain, and then it was another few days before treatments would begin. Today is two weeks after the injection to ease the pain, but the medication has not been as efficacious as hoped. It may take another or maybe two more injections. Boy, was I suddenly feeling old!


A trip to Tennessee scheduled in May takes us to our grandson, Michael’s high school graduation with honors and a bright future ahead. Our plans are to take Amtrak to Chicago and then drive the rest of the way to our destination. Departure is scheduled for May 16th. I want to feel better by then. When I began thinking about this post, it was the sense of joy I felt about Michael’s accomplishments and the solid young man he is. His parents are due much credit for raising him so well. That is what brought me to this writing place I call my blog to share my thoughts with you.


Annette + Powerbook + Teh Interwebz via photopin (license)
Annette + Powerbook + Teh Interwebz via photopin (license)

In recent weeks, I’ve been present online some, and I’ve pulled together book reviews over at Puddletown Reviews. But I’ve not attended to any writing on my memoir, not much on this blog, and my newsletter needs my attention.

Joy is found in doing the things we love. Whether it is writing, painting, photography, music, crafting, or something else, that which we love brings us an ever-present joy, if we allow it. Creativity isn’t work in my mind; it is a place I love to enter not knowing what I’ll have produced when I come out.

It occurred to me while writing this post that joy moves us along to gratitude. Think about it:

  • Initially, my writing process followed my thought process. As this post begins, I sound somewhat in the doldrums over aging and what comes with it. Note especially that as we age it becomes harder to recover from injuries, surgeries, and illnesses. And it takes more time. Time grows long and boring, until we think of someone or something special.
  • Almost instantly thinking of Michael and his graduation turned my thoughts and feelings to ones of joy. My thoughts had been centered on my pain and how much I want to either be better than now or have the pain resolved before our trip in May. Now, thinking of the joy of our trip and writing about Michael pushed me forward to a place of gratitude.
  • And arriving there, I pause to give voice to my gratitude.


Flickr via BK
Flickr via BK

⇒Physicians and processes for healing and helping those with health needs
⇒A patient and helping soul mate and best friend who has helped me through pain and recovery more than once, my husband
⇒The gift of friends and family who support me in my writing, both in real-time and online
⇒Special times shared with family far away, like graduations, weddings, new babies.
⇒The joy of seeing a grandchild grow into a solid young man with a strong background given to him by his parents
⇒The gift of writing itself which called me to sit today and write this post from which evolved the beautiful process of movement from my realities to joy and on to gratitude



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