By: H. Anne Thurston, Columnist
Because today is barely underway and tomorrow merely looms on the horizon I have no way of knowing what the world news may be centered upon next Wednesday when this issue of the Gazette ‘hits the streets’.[private]
Today, however, seated here before my computer far away from a city I have never visited, though my Laura has, the future is desperately changing. I remember so well the people she met and told me of. Their home was a high condo overlooking the city of Cairo. Their interest in my granddaughter and welcoming conversation was obvious to her as they spoke of their own daughter and son.
Later in the evening the son took Laura out to dinner and she laughing told me how he so wanted her to sample all his many favorite dishes that a separate table next to theirs was used on which to place them. And during the dinner he explained the Egyptian customs which were involved in ‘dating’. Before they were aware of it the restaurant emptied and the staff was clearing the tables and stacking the chairs on top of them to be able to mop the floors. They knew it was time to leave.
I thought of this family and their love for each other and their pride in their customs and even their food as I watched the hundreds of thousands gather in the main square of that capitol city to ask for change. I saw all ages there expressing not only anger and frustration but hope for a better tomorrow. That so many could gather so purposefully, wave their country’s flag and ask their government to listen to their desperate request for change regenerated in me the belief that peace will come to our world.
Coupled with this were the supportive, never critical words of Secretary of State Hilton as well as those of President Obama. I am watching the government of my country stay on the side lines, cheering, yes, but not jumping in with their guns and bullets to take over for the protestors. As I said earlier, as I write this column no outcome is apparent. Those who entered the protest belligerently yesterday and who have caused injuries and perhaps deaths have not swayed the determination of the masses to continue their action without guns or deadly weapons. Even though representatives of the media have been detained and harassed no nation has responded to this mistreatment of their citizens. It is as if the demeanor of those protesting; their unshakable determination not to do battle, has infected those of us on the sidelines. We respect their goals and their determination to gain them peacefully.
There is a greatness about the Egyptian men, women and children who, despite the hardships they are bringing down on themselves which brings back the times of Mahatma Gandhi and Rev. Martin Luther King. Both accomplished, as leaders in the use of peaceful avenues, unbelievable changes for those they represented. Both suffered for their actions, yet the many who benefit will reach into infinity.
One TV news clip took me into a small room with a handful of people busily at work. The camera zeroed in on a very young appearing woman and the reporter introduced her as the ‘mind’ behind the Egyptian protest. She had a happy smile on her face and agreed that she had made thousands of phone calls that day urging others to join the protest. I saw intelligence and compassion on her face and immediately thought of my own grandchildren and many others I know of that age and felt a great reassurance for not only ‘our’ future here in Boyne City but for those in Cairo and all the troubled lands that circle our globe.
Very little irritates me anymore. I have learned that if there is nothing to do to help a situation that rather than fuss about it I should offer my assistance somewhere it will do some good. But I must confess that when I hear someone make the all encompassing remark that our youth today are just a bunch of no-good drug addicts I have a strong desire to set them straight. The same is true of today’s schools. Granted the US schools (this includes Boyne’s) are not ranked at the top of the heap according to some kind of international test. This I can’t honor as my own experiences with such tests has led me to understand there are some very important elements in intelligence that can’t be tested. Often that inscrutable element is of great importance in how the person being tested will respond to life’s needs and challenges.
Recently in the tragic Austin shootings we watched unbelievable heroism play out right before the camera’s lenses. I doubt if there is any test which could have predicted such responses. When I took the required aptitude entrance exam at Ohio State way back when, I lost all my respect for any such testing program. I was eighteen and had shown an unusual ability in the area of fine arts. Despite my strong desire to become a medical doctor I followed the route my parents expected of me and entered the university to study art. After all, in those days no woman was expected to enter the field of medicine; nursing, yes – but not any further up.
The results of the test were ridiculous. During my high school years the only grade below an ‘A’ I received was in chemistry. (Maybe that was because I accidentally set my work book on fire during an experiment – I never asked). So when the OSU test showed that I was at the 98 percentile in Physics and merely at the 28 percentile in art I knew immediately that all such testing has some very serious limitations. I had no idea what the subject of physics entailed having never taken it.
Because of my experience as a college prof, grade and high school teacher, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and former school board member I rank the success of this country’s schools as phenomenal. I am very aware that there are deplorable inadequacies in various areas due to the availability of money on an equal basis. And I also believe that all too often today it is the parent who is not doing their part in their child’s life. Yet I acknowledge today’s work schedules, electronics and an all too accessible game world are contributing to the time factor which must be an all but insurmountable hurdle for parents.
The class room teacher can’t do it all. Despite the efforts of those who endeavored to teach me to spell I can’t. Back in those days the instructors were directed to teach spelling through the use of phonetics. The fact that the English language is not a phonetic one didn’t seem to enter the picture. And so I was taught that “i follows ‘e’ after ‘c’ accept —–“ and other such absolutely puzzling rules. The fact that ‘taut’ and ‘taught’ sound exactly alike was not a factor. Nor that ‘there’ and ‘their’; ‘meet’ and ‘meat’ or ‘sight’ and ‘site’ sound the same yet have entirely different meanings was not considered.
Over the years I have struggled as spelling is a big part of writing. The use of a dictionary often was of no help whatsoever. After all, if you can’t spell a word how are you to find it in the big book? Supposedly Spell Check on the computer was invented to help those like myself to succeed in the arena of spelling – but it, like the dictionary has a big hitch. It accepts any word which may be spelled correctly yet is being used incorrectly. It did just this in a recent column where in my semi-unconscious state of writing I wrote about a ‘taut’ limb only to write ‘taught limb’. Ouch!!!!
My lifelong friend, Grace, has come forward to help me by offering to ‘edit’ my columns before they reach Chris’s hands. I am so grateful for her offer as now I can write knowing my spelling will be cared for. Love you so much, Grace.
It is now acknowledged that over five million grandparents are raising their grandchildren. Often this is a single employed woman. That there is assistance available all too often isn’t known. A wonderful support group for our area is located at the Senior Center in Petoskey. That the administrators of the program understand the needs of those involved in raising their children’s children is evidenced in the availability of childcare during their evening meetings.
I urge those of you who are raising grandchildren to join this group and benefit from its companionship and help. It will be an amazing experience. And my book, The Book of Anne, might also offer you encouragement.
After listening to the hateful words and threat of the use of guns here in our own country during the pre-election days last fall – and yes, having to accept one of our very own Boyne City citizens cherished right of free speech to publically assault us with his hate – I fell an enormous surge of respect for those I don’t know half a world away as they deliberately embrace a peaceful means of bringing about the changes they seek.
Their customs, religion and way of government are not those we possess. However, as human beings they are who we are. The daily needs are the same. Their desires for the beautiful, enjoyable and exciting are identical – perhaps in different ways, but still the same. I recall the pride in his country’s food that the young Egyptian friend of Laura’s had. And I have experienced the same pride in the dishes both my Brazilian and Thai grandsons have prepared for me to enjoy. Although I have to admit that my American ‘plain food’ fondness struggles with the ‘heat’ of some of those they present! In their love for me they refrain from adding a full dose of their spices to my portion. And I glow with that love and the delicious food. There is no doubt that their inclusion in my family has enriched it in many ways. I believe it is through such ‘first hand’ lessons that our world will become the place it is destined to be. [/private]
Anne Thurston is a weekly columnist for The Boyne City Gazette. Thurston lives in Boyne City, and her published works include “E-Males” and “The Book of Anne.” More information on her work can be found at http://www.hathurston.com