Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Thursday, November 21, 2013

STUFF 2013 a day over fifty

Though this was submitted to a prestigious journal or two, none bit.  Therefore I pass it along to you, given that it's timeliness shall become less timely over time.

A Day Over Fifty  --  George Baum

As one who was born the day after JFK was assassinated, turning 50 cannot just slip by unnoticed.  Everywhere we turn, there is a reminder that 50 years have passed since his death, meaning 50 years since my birth.  Do not go gentle into that dark November, good George.

My parents recently dug up some newspapers they had saved from those traumatic days.  (And here I’m referring to Kennedy, not my birth.)  As I paged through them tonight, I came across an opinion poll kind of thing.  The question was, “Do you think women belong in political life?”  Of the six respondents, 4 said absolutely not, mainly because women already have a place, and it is in the home.

On a nearby page, there was a small piece about how the President’s death had reopened the debate in society regarding stricter controls on guns.  Some suggested that the tragedy was a wake-up call to restricting easy access to firearms; others argued that such violence points to the need for more citizens to arm themselves.

Around ten years after those papers were printed, my mother ran for the local Board of Education, citing the Board’s lack of female representation as her initial inspiration.  She was (not surprisingly) the first woman ever elected to the city’s Board of Education.  She was a guiding force toward desegregating our city’s schools.  She fought for reproductive freedoms outside that role, and raised four boys who consider women’s rights an absolute given in society.

And now, it is easy to imagine a woman holding elected office, and it is therefore hard to imagine four out of six interviewees saying a woman’s place is in the home.

While it is perhaps difficult to imagine a repeat of the tragic day in Dallas, given today’s extreme security measures, it is quite easy to imagine the resulting “conversation” regarding gun restrictions.

“In 1962 an ordinance in Dallas making it unlawful to carry firearms within the city was declared unconstitutional in the Dallas Court of Appeals.  The judge ruled that the ordinance was an ‘unauthorized invasion of a natural right the citizens of this state have never relinquished to their rulers’.” 1

A 2009 Stanford study compared female lawmakers to their male counterparts, focusing on “three specific measurements of the effectiveness of each member of Congress:
1) the number of pieces of legislation each member introduced,
2) the number of Members of Congress who cosponsored each piece of legislation, and
3) the amount of discretionary spending each member was able to direct to his or her district.
The conclusion of the study was clear: women are more effective legislators than men.  Quantitatively, women introduce more legislation and procure more resources for their districts.  Qualitatively, the legislation women introduce receives greater support from their colleagues.” 2

My basic point is this:  Some things never change.  But, more importantly, some things do.  We can imagine a man on the moon, cheered by a President who was shot by a gun, the prohibition of which was considered an unauthorized invasion into the natural right that has never been relinquished to the rulers.  And some people could never have imagined a world in which a woman might introduce superior legislation, which might one day prevent the kind of violence that occurred around the time of my birth.

Sometimes, what seems lacking is simply a decent sense of imagination.

George Baum is an Episcopal priest who makes his living playing music, and lives in Ohio with his wife and daughters and one BB gun.

1 Niagara Falls Gazette, Nov. 25, 1963, pg 19
2 Linda Sanchez, Rep. Of California Dist. 38,

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