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‘If Not Now, When?’ Columnist Asks
I feel rather jaded. I think I'll visit the Orient soon - vicariously, that is - and see it through the eyes of young people. Also, a niece has invited us to join her and some friends for a few days at a ski resort in Michigan. Ah! Picture this: schussing down snow-covered hills, sleigh rides, hot tubbing, conversations with vivacious, fun people and warming drinks in front of a roaring fire during the hour of apres-ski.
Now, let's get real: The only way I'll be schussing is if they send me flying down a hill on my walker. I've always wanted to ski for miles down pristine, Alpine mountainsides the way Earnest Hemingway did. Oh, we talked about it when we were young, but never got around to it. However, I'm sure that I shall be very skilled at apres-ski. Perhaps I shall get a cast for my leg so that people will say, "Wow! Can you believe that cool old lady?” (Neither can I!)
As we grow older, we put on rose-colored glasses when we look back. In some ways, the days of my youth were better, I think: fewer single-parent homes, little drug use, less obesity, less teen pregnancy, less crime, no crazed gunmen at colleges and better conduct in the schools.
However, there was another side to life in the good old days. Some may not remember the religious bigotry of those times. I do, and the injustice of it made me burn.
I encountered hurtful religious prejudice when I was a kid. Some said that Catholics weren't really Christians. They wouldn't even attend a funeral at the Catholic church.
Many are too young to remember the days of segregation. I do, and the injustice of it made me burn as my devoutly Christian mother taught me that racial prejudice is a serious sin.
An immaculate Knightstown neighbor told my sister, Christine Jones, that she wasn't permitted to try on dresses in Knightstown. Instead, she had to hold them in front of her and look in the mirror. The landlady where I lived when I attended Ball State was horrified when I sat on the front steps with a black fellow with whom I worked in the kitchen of a dorm, discussing some typing that he had hired me to do for him. "But all we were doing was talking about his term paper," I said. "I don't care. It doesn't look good. Don't have him here again." Another black student at Ball State who grew up at the Children's Home told me that white barbers in Muncie refused to cut his hair, saying that it would dull their shears.
Some are too young to remember the unequal treatment that women received. I do, and the injustice of it made me burn, and I still burn about today's inequalities.
My mother and the other women who worked at the greenhouse were paid less than the males. A teaching colleague kept her marriage a secret at Frankfort after World War II because they didn't hire married women teachers. The first year that I taught, I had a difficult time writing a check for a TV at L.S. Ayres because I wasn't married. They had a special line for men in the tearoom. They refused to serve a woman friend and me alcohol at the King Cole because we weren't with males. Margaret Chase Smith, senator from Maine, was the only notable woman elected official.
"America isn't ready for a Catholic," they said. If not then, when? John Kennedy was elected, and the Catholics didn't take over. Even so, Mitt Romney had to explain that he's a Christian.
Now we have a strong female candidate. "America isn't ready for a woman president," they say. If not now, when? She can't be any worse than some of the males we've had. (Meow, meow!)
We have a strong black candidate. "America isn't ready for a black president," they say. If not now, when? A black president can't do any worse than some of the Caucasians we've had.
A 70-year-old man is a strong candidate. "Too old," they say. Anyone who can make it through the rigors of the current primary campaign is surely strong enough to be president.
Not all who say that America isn't ready are prejudiced, it's just that they fear controversy. Talk about controversy! Just read the history of the American Revolution or the Civil War. Americans are a resilient people. America will survive, no matter who wins the election.
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