In last week’s Photo Friday post, I promised you more wisteria this week, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as you did last week’s purple blooms. Around here, purple wisteria seems almost like a weed – it pops up any and every where. When I was looking for blossoms to shoot, I could have had any pick of the more common purple, but finding those white blooms was much more difficult. I think I drove around for an hour or so looking for a spot where I could safely pull over and shoot to my heart’s content.
There is something so graceful and delicate about it, isn’t there?
I am still searching for beauty. If you were here for this week’s (Almost) Wordless Wednesday post, you know that I am heart-broken over Mississippi’s adoption of a “Religious Freedom” law. On Wednesday I was more hopeful than I am today. As I read the defenses of the law, I am struck by the inescapable truth that this law has ardent supporters. I’ve read a post from a legislator that is so combative and ugly in tone that it makes me ill. When I read the earnest responses – that to me sound a lot like the justifications used to discriminate against African Americans – I know that we have an incredibly long way to go.
In my classroom today, my students and I watched the Smithsonian documentary about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We talked about King’s opposition to the Vietnam War, and how that damaged his reputation. We talked about the differing positions and strategies within the Civil Rights movement and how that created discord. We discussed how a loss of privilege can engender much fear and how that fear can lead to dark and terrible places…as evidenced by Mississippi’s history during the Civil Rights movement.
In the last couple of days, we’ve had discussions about HB1523. I have a bit more latitude in my classroom because no one much expects anything to come of my students and as long as I keep them under control and managed, we are free to do a lot of what we want, which means we have some pretty frank talks. I find myself walking a narrow path – trying to balance my own beliefs with a respect for the traditions and beliefs that inform the lives of my students, my outrage and disgust with a need to acknowledge for my students what I believe to be very sincere belief of some as well as the darker, uglier intents that informed the bill in the first place.
I was hopeful on Wednesday. I thought that I could look for beauty, take consolation in the thought that there are so many who see this bit of hatred for what it is, and while I am still doing that, I find it much more difficult to be that naive. My belief that this law is unconstitutional has not wavered, but I suppose I am realizing that in this place, even when the law is struck down, it won’t really matter much.
In Mississippi, I have worked in public schools where prayer is broadcast over the loudspeakers in the morning and before lunch. I’ve worked in schools where my administrators opened faculty meetings and professional development with prayer. It doesn’t seem like much, does it? Harmless, yes? Except when it is not your belief. I remained in those positions without saying a word because I needed a job – my family needed the support of my paycheck – but when I could move on to another position, I did so. Children in those schools don’t have the same options, and for those pious Christians who believe that they are simply doing nothing wrong, they cannot fathom how alienating their actions are.
And when I remember that, I know that changing a law only gives some recourse to those who are imperiled. it does not change hearts and minds and in fact may well harden them for a generation or two.
We have woven a terrible web, and my soul is worried for us. I think of the children I have taught who are members of the LGBT community, struggling with their place in the world, and know that in Mississippi and other parts of this country, we are doing our children, our fellow man, and our future a disservice. I will continue to use my voice to advocate for them…and us…because when we discriminate against others – regardless of the reason for it – we are lesser. I had hoped that Mississippi had learned that lesson., There are many of use who have, but unfortunately we continue to be drown out by those determined to repeat the past.
Forgive the ache in my soul. I know that traditionally, Photo Friday posts are a celebration of the beauty I find in Mississippi. I find it still, but I cannot ignore the ugliness that is part and parcel of that beauty.
Welcome to another edition of the Photo Friday link-up! I’m so excited to see what you have to share with us this week, and I’m blown away by what you shared with us last week. Our most viewed link came from Kathy at You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out. Kathy took us to the National Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, which is an incredibly powerful experience. If you’ve not been, I hope you get the chance to go. In the meantime, you can vicariously experience it through Kathy’s lens.
The final link last week came from Patrick at Adventures in Weseland, who took us to Auburn, CA. (Fun fact – many years ago when I lived in Reno, NV, we used to make pilgrimages to Auburn because they had the nearest In n’ Out hamburger. It was a great little ride through the mountains on the motorcycle). If you missed some of the posts added after yours, consider going back and taking a look at them. there is some great work out there!
Without further ado, it’s time to share! Thanks for joining us again this week!