In Memoriam

September 11, 2001

Five years later, we’re all remembering where we were that day, what we were doing, how we heard the news that our beloved Nation had been attacked by terrorists. I was at home in the back end of the house and Rusty was in the living room watching Good Morning America. He hollered to me that something was happening in New York, and I came in and saw the tape replay, and watched and watched…

It felt like perhaps the prelude to Armageddon. This sort of thing was not supposed to be happening in our country, it was so horrific.

I still think the President was wrong about one thing — he repeatedly calls terrorists “cowardly.” I don’t think they’re cowardly. It takes a particular kind of courage, or at least carelessness, to blow oneself up for a principle. No, what the terrorists are, is evil, an evil we are not accustomed to facing here, to even acknowledging exists.

So here we are. Several of my friends’ sons have been overseas, a couple of friends’ husbands… one of my old schoolmates flies choppers for the National Guard and has been in Afghanistan.

Back home, I go into convenience stores up in Raleigh … operated by Arabs. I remember the days when I was travelling with Rusty; I stopped between NC and Louisiana several trips at several different hotels over the year and a half, and they were operated by Arabs. One of them had a fundraiser jar on the counter for a charity to benefit orphans and other needy children — the same sort of fundraiser we heard after 9/11 was being used as a front in order to raise money for the terrorists’ activites. I was glad I had told the desk clerk that I support work for the poor through my own church.

I know there are Christian Arabs. I know that being an Arab is not an automatic link to terrorism. But I’m afraid. The men who commandeered the airplanes on 9/11/01 might have been students with me at Guilford, or clerks at the convenience store where I bought my gas, or at the hotel where Rusty and I stopped over on our wedding trip. I am afraid now of people who have a different ethnic base than my own; it feels as if they are infiltrating the country, and that some day soon, on a given signal, they will all rise up in a frenzied jihad and our American streets will begin to run with blood.

Meantime, there is that outrageous faction of American culture that embraces death, that deconstructs history and proclaims from our college and university campuses, and even from our high schools, that it is our own fault the Muslim extremists hate us so violently. We have become the “evil empire” even within our own borders, to our own citizens.

We are at war; but how can we fight such a war as this? The war of misinformation and deceit? The war of Me First and Self-Esteem over responsibility? The war in which the Evil One presents sin as heroic and virtue as neurosis and disorder? The war of demonic proportions that seems bent toward the sacrifice of our own god-fearing culture?

I feel helpless at times. I will do my best to be faithful where I am, but it isn’t enough. We are trying to do too much in solitude, in isolation; we do not have enough of a sense of unity from within our own ranks, because these are things we cannot freely talk about. This is not a war about two nations opposing one another, but of two philosophical paradigms — one out to destroy the other, the other sometimes frighteningly slow to demonstrate its determination to thrive and to contain the other in its own small geographic confines.

The demi-god of self-esteem

My friend Matt said it best: self esteem is a condition more to be feared in the U.S. these days than mortal sin. ‘

Had a parent conference at the high school today. The student in question, an almost-sixteen year old, is a mainstreamed “Special needs” or “exceptional” child who blew up and went on a rampage in my classroom on Friday.

This is a kid who, despite his “exceptional” status, has an extremely high IQ (part of the profile of his particular designation). He’s been mainstreamed because most self-contained EC classes are for the nearly-retarded, or those kids so behaviorally disturbed that even if their IQ is normal, they are rendered incapable of learning.

So this kid is mainstreamed because the law says it is his “right.” But the rights of the other 33 kids in that particular class, of having their lesson without the distraction and disruption of this boy — whom, truly, I have grown quite fond of! — talking and misbehaving throughout the class, and of being safe from such explosions as he occasionally demonstrates, are totally disregarded.

Why isn’t he assigned a “tech,” or a “wraparound,” an adult aid who can help corral his enthusiasm and excessive social energy into work, or who can see a problem bubbling beneath the surface and remove him from the class before he come roaring through like a dirvish, throwing his book bag onto the floor and ripping the telephone out of the wall?

Because the humiliation of having such an assistant might damage this poor boy’s already-low self-esteem.

The psychologists have conveniently, sentimentally forgotten that self-esteem is just another word for self-respect, and self-respect is gained through self-control and accomplishment — the very things this poor kid is being deprived of because the “experts” have decided that self-esteem is about having one’s own way, about being treated as part of a herd rather than as an individual, rather than about merit.

And people wonder why it’s taking me so long to commit to school to get my certification requirements… It’s because of the politically-charged policies of classroom management and behavioral guidelines our full-time teachers have to put up with on a daily basis.

The ONLY way a sensible change can be effected is if a sufficient number of parents of the other kids in that class call the school administration and express concern and outrage that a regularly violent boy — a boy who evidently has a reduced sensation of pain, so when he punches his fist through a wall, he doesn’t feel the pain — is allowed to dominate their child’s classroom. And I can’t recommend it, and too many of the parents aren’t going to do anything because, like me, they wonder what the use is.

So — if you’re a parent, become an activist, please. Demand reasonable rules and limits in your child’s classroom — from your child’s classmates, and from your child. Don’t get suckered into the “self-esteem” vacuum.

Where in the world did I go???

Back again. Don’t know how long. I seem to go through these spells of enjoying writing, then hating it, finding it burdensome. Well, not so much the writing itself as the horrible suspicion that I have absolutely nothing to say that someone else hasn’t said previously, and better.

For starters, though, I want to toot my own horn. Back in… I guess it was July, because July 1 is the first day I record in my journal, I woke up bright and early with one conscious thought: IT’S TIME. Didn’t have to think twice to know what that was all about.

I started that day walking once around my neighbor’s field. Took me a little more than twenty minutes. For several weeks, I walked around that field once every single day, except some rare evenings when we were under severe thunderstorms.

After several weeks, I drove the field and discovered that my route was taking me, from back door and home again, roughly 3/4 mile. I also discovered that the “U” of the field, from the driveway nearest my house, around the back and up to the road on the south end, was just a smidgen under 1/2 mile. So I started going around the “U” of the field and home again, a wee bit more than a mile.

That’s where I am stuck for the time being, and I’m quite contented with that for now. A mile a day — and I’m doing that whole mile in what used to take me to walk the 3/4 mile loop — is a darn good clip for a big ol’ heifer like me.

Since July 1, I’ve dropped from a size 28 to a 24. I’ve lost more than fifteen inches (I didn’t think to measure until I’d been walking almost a month) I got on the scales of the school health room on Thursday, and from my highest KNOWN weight (I didn’t weigh for a couple of years, and I know I gained weight in that interval, because that’s when I wound up in the size 28) — I have lost at least forty pounds. My friend Rachel says it has to be at least 50.

Insert image of big, cheesy grin HERE.

What am I doing besides walking? Well, one thing I am NOT doing is “dieting.” Too lazy, too skeptical to follow a diet, count calories, fat grams, etc. Bugger all that mess.

I am eating fewer and fewer refined foods and more and more whole foods — whole grain breads, brown rice, whole wheat pasta when I eat pasta at all. I’ve also made the transition from sweetened to unsweetened tea, so my sugar consumption is down by more than one-half. (Still have to have a little sugar in my morning coffee, I’m afraid).

I’m a happy camper! Stay tuned for further updates.

Insert another image of big cheesy grin NOW.