danniewriter

A teachable moment

Actress/singer Erika Amato’s response to President Trump’s Independence Day gaffe is a big crowd pleaser. Read about Erika’s diverse career, reviews of her work and other highlights at www.erikaamato.com.

I would never wish a gaffe upon anyone as big as the mistake perpetrated by President Trump on Independence Day, but as someone who loves history, I found it just a tad gratifying. Sound strange? People often have that response when reading my posts, so please bear with me.

I imagined cellphones being pulled out across the nation as people asked themselves, “Exactly how many years off was he?” I pictured very small children asking why various beverages had just shot from their parents’ noses when the infamous remark was made.

The fact that people, especially young ones, are curious enough to ask questions about the past is a life preserver of optimism to which I cling mightily when I see “on the street” interviews where over 18ers opine that the presidential cabinet is a piece of furniture.

In recent years, the question of America’s history, especially in the South, has been a topic of heated debate as leaders, and entire communities, have opted to remove statues, plaques and names from public spaces and buildings. The country’s brutal past of slavery and racial discrimination is by no means a Southern phenomenon, but I think it’s fair to say that, in many corners of the region, there is a tendency to deliberately misunderstand the opposition of such symbols.

After all, in many areas of the South, it was commonplace to refer to the Civil War as “the recent unpleasantness,” into the 20th century.

We have an opportunity here, not to erase history by tearing down monuments and removing plaques, although in some cases I think that is entirely appropriate, and in just about all cases, I think a community is well within its right to make such a decision. Additionally, I am certainly not suggesting that we engage in group denial and giving into political correctness.

The opportunity is to get the story right … or at least as close to right as our faulty human nature will allow.

Ripping down statues is quick and easy. Putting history into context takes time and strength of will. And in some cases, it takes exploration. There are many important people who were so disenfranchised during their lifetimes, their stories are not yet fully known.

I ran across a profound piece of writing that illustrates beautifully the great need we have as a country for balance, context and “the whole story.” I hope you will take time to read Carly Berlin’s essay, Two Houses on the Eatonton-Milledgeville Road, recently posted on The Bitter Southerner.

Confessions of a reluctant protestor

Note: The author is a resident of the El Conquistador condo community in Louisville, Ky. Her views are her own and do not represent anyone else at El Conquistador, Casa Granada, or Planet Earth.

There are several reasons I’ve never been much of a “joiner” when it comes to causes, no matter how worthy.

I tend to get too emotionally invested, which often interferes with good judgment. On many issues, I clearly see both sides. And, rather than considering the rightness/wrongness of an issue, I often ask myself how likely will a vocal opposition result in a positive change? Outrage for the sake of outrage, to me, is wasted energy. I dislike the sound of my own voice. I prefer to express my opinions at the ballot box or perhaps by writing a check.

When something hits close to home, naturally I take notice, but even then I try to be circumspect. Is this something to be fought, or something to be accepted?

Every once in a while, however, I run across something so clearly in opposition to respect and common sense that the outrage, and the organized opposition, comes quite easily.

The proposed Hikes Point SpeedWash at 3000 Breckenridge Lane in Louisville is a case in point.

It’s a sweet deal for a small group of people. Reportedly, it’s worth about $1.5 million for the current owner of the property. And, with an average daily traffic volume of more than 31,000 vehicles, it’s about low-hanging fruit for SpeedWash. The business model here touts bargain basement prices; exterior washes start at only $3/car, and self-serve vacuums are free. The only way SpeedWash makes a profit is to process as many cars as possible in the 12-13 hours it is open, seven days a week.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for people making money. Also, it would inject a few more low-paying jobs into the local economy. However, the list of pros is pretty short compared to the cons in store for hundreds of people profoundly affected by the project.

Full disclosure: I have a dog in this fight. I live at the El Conquistador Condominiums. If this car wash goes in, I’ll be looking at it out my front windows. The value of my financial investment will plummet.

But, unlike many of my older neighbors, I have options. I can sell out, cut my losses, and move elsewhere to lick my wounds. For many residents, the condos are the last homes they will ever have. For many, they invested a lifetime’s worth of savings and pensions into purchasing a home they thought would be a safe and pleasant place to live out their years. For many, they spend most of their time each day within the walls of their condos, making those homes incredibly important to their quality of life.

I daresay none of the residents moved in dreaming of the day that a high-volume car wash would be built across the parking lot, adding traffic, grit, heat, and unfathomable noise to their everyday lives.

This is very much a David and Goliath story. Many of my neighbors are ill, or so advanced in age, they don’t have much fight left in them. I’ve heard them express great concern even while struggling to sign their name to a petition. As I write this, my eyes well with tears. It’s just not fair, especially to them. Where is the protection for our elderly that our society claims to prize?

I’ve tried to get the attention of local media, and senior citizens advocacy agencies, but so far, few people outside Hikes Point, and the two condo communities, are aware of the project and its implications.

Maybe you can help us. First, I encourage you to read the petition, and the press release about a valid-but-still-Hail-Mary legal battle El Conquistador has undertaken. Here’s a layman’s explanation of the “adverse possession” question.

Get the facts and decide if you think it’s a battle worth undertaking, even if you don’t have a dog in the fight. If you do, help us by reaching out to:

If you are still reading at this point, thank you! That’s a win right there.

Dannah K. “Dannie” Prather lives in Louisville and is a freelance writer and part-time dog walker (Rover.com).

 

 

 

Praying for the rise of the Common Sense Party

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Like religion, education, and vocation, my political views were shaped, markedly, by the influence of my parents and grandparents. My parents weren’t showy about their politics, but they were never shy about their respect for our country and its system of government.

Growing up, I queried them repeatedly about their voting choices and party affiliations. On one occasion, one of them had to stop and think about party affiliation, and if I recall correctly, the other parent was not only amused, but surprised by the eventual answer.

They died relatively young, so it’s up to my flawed memory and a fairly creative mind to recreate this scene. I imagine the slightly embarrassed smile from the one who had to think which party to name. I see a raised eyebrow of surprise and a teasing smile from the other that communicated: “Yes, we’ll be chatting about this later.”

Now, there was no more simpatico couple than my folks. Sure, they had differing opinions from time to time, but there was an overriding theme to their views: that of common sense. So profoundly were they attached to this principle, the question of political party was secondary.

Dear God (and I mean this as a prayer), I wish I lived in a country where the lines between political parties continued to be so innocuous. Were that the case, I’m convinced we would return, or possibly arrive, to the primacy of common sense.

Common sense means I can be concerned with national security, debt and deficit without being labeled a soulless, capitalistic pig.

Common sense means I can maintain that it is reasonable and necessary for the most wealthy nation on the planet to provide a short-term safety net for citizens in crisis without being shouted down as a bleeding heart socialist who only wants to take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots.”

Common sense knows that “immigration reform” doesn’t automatically mean “amnesty” any more than objecting to an amendment outlawing abortion means that partial-birth abortion is moral.

Common sense tells me that it is confounding to a spiritually searching world for a church to defy one rule of manmade law while simultaneously demanding protection under another. (A blog post for another day: Does a firm stand of commitment mean anything if it comes without consequences or even objection?)

Common sense today will fight, even unto death, for the equality of opportunity for every American while refusing to be held captive, ashamed and forever apologetic for the sins of long-dead ancestors that can never be undone.

Instead of destroying statues to deeply flawed–sometimes to the point of atrocity–individuals of the past, common sense can relocate them to museums and private venues while raising monuments on public grounds to people who exemplify more closely “the better angels of our nature”* and our country. Common sense says a people who subtract history rather than expand it and give it context are human ostriches–heads in the sand with exposed backsides ready for the kicking, or worse.

Yep, I could go on.

But in our 140-character, bumper sticker, manifesto-on-a-business card, QR-coded society, there’s no room to maneuver. There’s no thoughtful, nuanced position.

That’s why, in this writer’s opinion, there never seems to be enough outrage when politicians, pundits and so-called celebrities say persons of a certain color, religion, tax bracket or sexual identification must affiliate with a certain party.

To that I concur with several of these sentiments from MASH’s Col. Sherman Potter.

It’s “us” against “them,” and “they” have the deck stacked–even though the definition of those pronouns might change hourly.

What once was praised as prudence, caution, and intelligence is now tossed aside as spinelessness and ambivalence. Make no mistake, there are times when lines must be drawn, and my folks knew and practiced this, but are we now a nation so eager to polarize we will be unable to unite when the time comes?

What then?

Will there ever be a Party of Common Sense?

Dear God (and I mean this as a prayer), I miss my parents.

daddynmama

*President Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address March 4, 1861

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