Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Muncie Boyhood-Cub Scouts and a Home Invasion

My Niece Krista and myself in my Cub Scout stuff.  That's my dad on the right edge.

“I promise to do my best to do my duty to God and my country.”  That was my Cub Scout pledge…or at least that’s a pretty close rendition.  I can still remember standing in the gym at Roosevelt Elementary, holding up my right hand with some now unknown number of fingers held together and pointing upward (Was it two or three?), and reciting that pledge as a member of the Cub Scouts in Muncie, Indiana.  I suppose I was somewhere around ten years old, and I was excited to be a Scout.

I can’t remember how I got in, and I only did it for a couple of years before I got out.  But, I had some fun and created a few interesting memories.  I learned to play miniature golf.  I walked down Walnut Street in a parade.  I visited Camp Munsee and Camp Redwing.  And, I raced a car in the Pinewood Derby.

The memories aren’t very deep and many of them are just fleeting images, but there are a few that stand out.

Mrs. Buck was my Den Mother.  She lived down on 24th Street between Hackley and Grant streets.  I can’t remember what she looked like, but I have three memories of being at her house.  1.  She taught me how to make a candle.  We took string and continually dipped it in hot wax, adding layer upon layer, until we had one long candle.  I’ve never done it since, but it was kind of fun to do at the time.  2.  Her dog bit me during one of our Scout meetings.  He was chained up between the house and the garage.  We usually walked around him, but I’d gotten too comfortable and just trotted through his chain radius.  The puncture marks in my calf were there to remind me to go around for several weeks after that particular visit.  3.  Her husband helped me build my Pinewood Derby car.  My dad was working too many hours at the Chevrolet plant and was either on 2nd or 3rd shift, but Mrs. Buck recruited her husband to work with some of us boys who needed a hand.  I guess I shouldn’t say that he helped me…it was more like he built it and I just made a few decisions like what shape it should be and…and…well, I decided what shape it should be.  I guess I also attached the wheels.  That’s something…right?

Mr. Amonett was my Scout leader.  He lived just a block south of me at 22nd & Hackley streets.  His daughter, Patty was in my classes at school.  For some reason that escapes me, that fact seemed to make it cooler that he was the leader.  Anyway, there are only two memories of him that I recall.  One is just a fleeting image of him walking to my door to sign me up. 

The other is a little embarrassing.

Well, it’s embarrassing, and he wasn’t actually involved.  I guess the memory is really only about his house.  See, I walked down to his house to see him.  I can’t remember why anymore.  Maybe I needed to check on some detail or maybe I thought there was a meeting.  Anyway, I trotted down there and knocked on his front door.  No answer.  So, I walked around back and knocked on the back door.  Of course, when I go back to the area now and look at the houses in that neighborhood, I realize that it was really silly to think that it would matter which door you knocked on to be heard.  Those houses are really quite small.  Anyway, I knocked on the back door, but again there was no answer.

So, did I just turn around and go home?  Maybe look up his phone number and call him later? 


Again, for some reason that escapes me, I opened their back door and walked right in.  I guess I thought they might be in some part of that tiny house where they couldn’t hear me knocking on both of their doors.

“Hello?” I said.  “Hello???”

No answer.  Well, maybe they were in some other part of the house….maybe upstairs and out of hearing range.  So, I looked around…found the stairs…climbed right up.  I don’t know whose room I was standing in when I finally came to my senses, but it suddenly occurred to me that I shouldn’t be walking around in somebody’s house when they weren’t there.  I didn’t steal anything and I didn’t go nibbing around in their cabinets or anything, but I was abruptly overcome with an odd sense of guilt.  What am I doing?” I thought, “I need to get out of here!  So, I rushed down the stairs, out the back door, and ran home…never to mention it to anyone…especially Patty!  (Well, I think I did tell her a couple of years ago, but it was a huge secret for at least three decades, and now the world knows…or, at least those who read this blog.)

There’s one other rather weird memory I associate with Cub Scouts.  For some reason, I associate the old “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog” song with being a Scout.  It’s all wrapped around the day that I walked in that parade.  I was in my uniform…I had walked at the front of our troop holding our banner,…and I remember:  “Jeremiah was a bullfrog.  He was a good friend of mine.”  It’s like it was the theme song for that day.  Weird is the right word.  That…my friends…is a weird memory.

Well, to sum up my days in the Cub Scouts, I did learn a few important things that I will now pass along to you:

1.       I learned the value of “doing my duty.”

2.       I learned that the highest score does NOT win in miniature golf.

3.       I learned that putting that bandana through the little Cub Scout ring thingy correctly is a lot harder than you can ever imagine.

4.       And…most importantly…you should always lock your back door because you never know when some goofy, eleven-year old Cub Scout is going to invade your home while you are away.  Really, never know.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Post Trial Reflections of Racism

As I sit here tonight, the George Zimmerman verdict has just been recently announced in the death of Trayvon Martin.  Just in case you’re living in a hole in the ground, Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges.  I’m not going to comment directly on that verdict, as to whether he should or should not have been convicted.  The jury has spoken and my opinion regarding the outcome is moot.  What is bothering me is all of the racial animosity and hatred that is being generated.

I am a white dude.  I can’t change that…it is what it is.  As such, I cannot fully comprehend the experiences that my friends that are black have lived through.  There are some folks in this country today that seem to think that racism is a thing of the past.  I have no illusions in that regard.  Racism against black folks does still exist and as a white dude, I cannot really understand the impact that it has on those of my friends who are black.  I just can’t.

On the other hand, I can understand it a little in the sense that it seems that this event has sparked feelings of animosity against the white community regardless of who they are…regardless of their innocence or guilt with regard to racism…regardless of their opinion on the case.  I saw a post on Facebook earlier today where there was a push to get all black folks to call in sick out of protest and boycott all across the country…unless the employer happened to be a company that was owned by a black person.  I’ve seen other posts that were much more angry and militant against white folks in general...not white folks connected to the case...just folks that happened to be white.

So, tell me, why would the owner of a flower shop in Laramie, Wyoming for instance need to be boycotted because of a trial verdict in Sanford, Florida?  What possible connection is there?  It is only the color of his/her skin.

This animosity has made me feel indirectly hated simply because I am white.  My sense of fairness, which runs pretty deep in me, cried out inside me when I saw the above mentioned post that this was WRONG!  This is the same sense of fairness that has always told me things like excluding black kids from certain schools was WRONG, or excluding black families from certain neighborhoods was WRONG! 

Folks, racism...regardless of who the racist is…is WRONG!

As for the tragic death of Trayvon, let’s consider a couple of questions:

Assuming we reverse the races of the two key players…let’s make Trayvon a teenage white kid….let’s make George Zimmerman a black man who is the neighborhood watch captain.  Let’s say the same event occurred just as it was described.  Ask yourself, would this change your view of the situation?  Try to be honest with yourself.

1.       If you are a white person, would you have suddenly been calling for the full conviction?

2.       If you are a black person, would you have jumped to the defense’s side?

Hmmm.  Are you being honest with yourself?  I think if people were willing to be honest, there would be people jumping ship on both sides.  White folks would be up in arms because an innocent white kid was killed just walking home from a market!  Some black folks would be crying foul because a black man was "unfairly" arrested for defending himself when he was just doing something to help the neighborhood.  Regardless of how right or wrong those positions may or may not be, there would be people jumping to those spots simply because of skin color. 

Racism itself is not racist.  Racism is an evil that itself doesn’t show a preference for race…it will inject itself equally and without bias into the heart of any willing party.  It clouds the mind, hardens the heart, and pays no attention to the outward appearance of the person in whom it inhabits.

I’ve got my opinions on the case…just like everyone else.  However, I will keep them to myself.  Please do not assume to know where I stand on this. 

I do want to say that I cherish my friendships with ALL of my friends regardless of their skin color, I am absolutely appalled at racism in ALL FORMS, and I’m just sitting here hoping that suddenly some of my friends are not going to be hating on me because I happen to be white.

I Peter 4:8  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Love to all.