Monday, November 14, 2011

Spoke too soon.....

In my last post, I mentioned that I had been sick but was feeling better and would be back at it shortly. Jumped the gun on that, I’m afraid. I’m not going to bore you with details but my hormones got together with a vicious cold that had a fever in its back pocket and then hooked up with a migraine. The result was an evil trinity that took me to hell and left me there for a really long time……….. As with so many unpleasant experiences, I learned a lot. For instance, it’s hard to have a deep thought when you can’t take a deep breath.

During those hazy days when the television was all that could distract me from the pain in my head that made a coma look appealing, I heard many people’s opinions about the Occupy movement. Having grown up in the 60s, I have a genuine respect for a legitimate protest. Whether I agree or disagree with the purpose is irrelevant. It’s the democratic process at work, people using their First Amendment rights, speaking out against those whom they believe are adversely affecting We The People’s lives, those who are wielding power without conscience, those who are behaving badly without consequences.

That being said, it seems that the original sincere sentiment has become a Hatefest, a venue for anyone who’s angry at anyone else to spew their venom. I am disturbed to hear some of the same bigotries voiced that I had, naively apparently, thought were the products of a bygone era of ignorance. I have been on the business end of that type of ignorance. My parents were of European descent, my mother Hungarian and my father Austrian. He always made a point of being clear that he was Austrian, not German. It took me a while to understand why. In point of fact, it took me until I was seven years old. My mother spoke three languages, my father spoke seven. My first language was German. It was what was spoken in my house because it was the one my parents shared. I finished learning English at school. When my sister and I would see each other on the playground at school, we frequently spoke German. One day, a boy from my class overheard us and asked me what language that was, so I told him. The very next day, he came up to me to say that he had told his parents that I spoke German and they told him that my family and I were Nazis. I didn’t know what to say because I didn’t know what that word meant. I had to go home and ask my mother. If you’ve read my blog before, you already know that my mother’s father was Jewish and spent time in a concentration camp, and that my mother saw the horrors of WWII up close and personal. Try to imagine the thought processes of that boy’s parents, saying something like that to their seven year old son for him to repeat to his seven year old schoolmate. Then try imagining my mother attempting to explain it to me.

I realize that I’m singling this issue out but it felt personal to me. It made me terribly sad to hear someone say that the Jews were the problem and should be thrown out of our country. Are we still holding an entire race or culture or religion culpable for the actions of the bad apples that every barrel must invariably have? I immediately thought of that little boy with the tragically stupid parents who told him that all Germans were Nazis. Even if it was just the one woman at one rally to whom an irresponsible media gave air time, I know she’s not alone. She can’t be. The odds are against it. I guess I just thought we had closed that chapter……………or maybe I was just hoping………….