Words and Deeds

Monday Morning Musings:

“but looking through their eyes, we can see

what our long gift to them may come to be.

If we can truly remember, they will not forget.”

–Miller Williams, “Of History and Hope”

“Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political or other. It consists in deeds not words.”

–Mahatma Gandhi

 

On Halloween,

a holiday based on Celtic and Christian traditions,

Americanized by collecting and eating as much candy as possible,

we see a Swedish movie

followed by dinner at an Indian restaurant

where the Diwali candles

from the celebration the night before are still on display.

(Multi-culturalism at its best.)

In the near-empty theater,

two women choose the seats directly behind us to talk—

throughout the movie,

fortunately, not too loudly.

The plot of the movie is familiar,

the curmudgeonly old man turns out to be not-so-curmudgeonly,

but the way the story is unveiled, and the acting itself

make it fresh.

We care about this man

who does not know how to show his emotions,

except through anger, scorn, and impatience,

His father did not cry or show much emotion either,

though he loved his son,

love shown by teaching him how to repair Volvos

and how to behave decently while cleaning train cars.

Ove, the old man, learns to love again, even while planning suicide,

helped by a pregnant Iranian refugee,

he learns again the bonds of friendship.

Both words and deeds are important.

 

We go to another movie about a man.

This time without a father, poor, black, gay

living with his drug-addicted mother.

It could full of clichés, but instead,

it is a bleak, but perhaps hopeful movie,

a poem of a movie, lyrical, with magical cinematography,

a great score, and wonderful performances.

The camera lingers on faces and places in this

coming-of-age story,

focused completely on its characters,

though it deals with universal themes,

and moonlight and the healing power of water.

Three different actors portray the main character in three episodes,

as the boy, known as “Little,” the teen, Chiron, and the man, “Black.”

The film never preaches or moralizes,

but the theme of what it means to be a man is central.

He is bullied because other kids sense he is gay, different,

not one of the pack.

A local drug dealer becomes his father figure,

a strong man, who does evil, but also acts with kindness.

a mixed, flawed being.

Little/Chiron/Black’s friend admits to “wanting to cry” but not actually crying,

because boys don’t cry, but he is also tough and tender.

My husband says to me, “I didn’t want the film to end.

I want to know what happened after the end.”

I agreed.

 

We walk around Old City,

I see this sign

img_4682

Sign written on a trash can in Old City, Philadelphia

I wonder about it

This message to the world.

 

I think about a candidate who uses his position of power

to spread hate, to bully and denigrate people.

It seems obscene here, walking past these historic buildings,

where men and women have fought

for freedom and liberty.

The “Founding Fathers,” not perfect men,

some held others in bondage,

but still, they gave us a foundation

that it troubles me to see trampled

by ignorance and hate.

It took courage for them to sign the document, declaring independence.

img_4684

 

I think of my own father,

not a perfect man either,

a man who enjoyed his power as a man,

he was the prince of his family,

his mother and sisters doted on him,

and he enjoyed having women wait on him,

yet he thought his daughters—and granddaughters—

could do anything,

be anything they wanted.

And yes, I saw him cry.

IMG_2808

My dad and I when I received my Ph.D.

Women are not better than men

and men are not better than women

white is not better than black

black is not better than white.

Love is love is love is love is love is love is love.

Girls and boys,

need to know

need to learn from history,

the good and the bad

to remember, so that they will not forget,

so none of us will forget

to strive

to dare

to fight

to show with words and deeds

to do the right thing.

 

We saw A Man Called Ove.  And we saw Moonlight.

Don’t forget to vote. #LoveTrumpsHate

 

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26 thoughts on “Words and Deeds

  1. I have to confess that I often shy away from long reads. I write medium to short length as well, thinking people are more likely to read through.
    But I enjoyed this a great deal and wish there could be more widespread discussion sans the charged emotions.
    We’re better than this election cycle is making us appear.
    Good post, Merril. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comment. I understand what you mean about long posts, and I also sometimes do not read long posts. Usually only my Monday posts are long ( or long-ish). 🙂 Thank you for reading through, and letting me know you enjoyed it!

      • No criticism of your Post’s length. Just to be clear. I just wanted you to know it grabbed me despite my tendency to avoid long blog posts.
        I read constantly for my writing., Novels are no longer leisure, but study if craft. Short stories for same, and an endless diet of poetry for inspiration etc.
        Your post was meaningful to me and necessarily substantive.

      • No, I understand, and I thank you.
        I know everyone has constraints on time and what they choose to read or not read. (I have a bunch of articles for my rape books to get through.) Yeah, that’s why I’m replying to this now. 😉

  2. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a photo of your father close up; he looks so proud.

    Apparently theatre and the movies stoke your poetic prowess though I like your prose every Monday morning reviewing your weekend – better than Pepys’ diary though you could probably end your entry with “As so to bed.”

    Thank you too for the Tennyson-esque admonition “to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield” to prejudice and hate. I will try to do the right thing and warm my writing chair a bit longer today. Super post!

    • Thank you, Marian. That blurry photo was a last minute thought, and it was actually from my WordPress file, so I must have used it at some point in a post. I like how he looks so proud–and he was. My Ph.D. advisor had also been his (or on his committee) at Temple. Thanks so much for your praise–and good luck with your chair-warming. 😉

  3. Another beautiful post. I love your almost continuous “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love” message, Merril. It’s something we all need to be reminded of as much as possible.

  4. I enjoyed reading the quotes; especially the one from Ghandi — thanks! Gosh, you looked awfully young when you received your Ph.D, Miss Overachiever 😉 Your dad looked like he was tearing up a bit; so sweet. Fantastic post with invaluable messages.

  5. Mahatma Gandhi was so true in his thinking, how our words are just words. Our actions count, they can make a difference and change things so much!
    I watch all award ceremony shows and loved his enthusiasm when Lin M. M. said the, “Love is love is love. . .”
    Your father looks so caring and proud of you, Merril. ❤

    • Thank you so much, Robin.
      That moment when Lin. M. M. 🙂 delivered that sonnet was really special. I don’t watch many awards shows, but I try to catch the Tony Awards, even if I can’t stay up till the end.
      My dad does look so proud. It’s nice to look back on that.

  6. A splendid Monday musing, although this one has the added intriguing facet that it was written on the other side of the election…reading it for the first time while being on the other side, knowing how things turned out (a campaign built on hate wins), are turning out (protests in the streets, the incoming administration fused with establishment insiders)…yes it is okay to cry…Saw “Ove” last week and yes i cried, especially the young couple running that snowy morning, shot in slow motion…and being a man, by reflex, attempt to wipe the tears in such a way that it makes it appear as if i am not doing such…and in the darkness it still seems as if no one else is crying…their heads and arms perfectly still…am i the only one…i doubt it, yet…and this brings back the memory of “Brokeback Mountain” and becoming the butt of the joke with the group (a man and two women) I was with for being the only one who was crying during and after the film…hardcore liberals and still they picked up somewhere this piece of crap perspective on crying that is floating about our cultural pool (just one among many)….oh well, have to pressing forward and onward.

    • Yes, it is weird to have this as you say from the other side–from before.
      Yeah–that is such a stupid thing about crying not being acceptable, especially for men. Well, my sisters, daughters, and I can tear up at a commercial, and I’ve seen my husband wipe tears away during some movies, though I don’t think Ove. So it’s too bad you don’t live nearby–you’d fit right in with my family. 🙂

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