About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

Brothers and Sisters, When
Did We Become So Afraid?

One of my favorite fiction novels is Brothers and Sisters, written in 1994 by Bebe Moore Campbell. Set in Los Angeles after the Rodney King incident, the story follows men and women of different races and economic classes. The commonality they share: a personal past of slights and hurts that  keeps them from realizing success, happiness, or both. The main character, bank manager Esther Jackson, has success but not happiness. Her emotions roil at the mere sight of a white person. On her way to visit her friend Vanessa  -- an African American actress who is more sanguine about race relations -- Esther comes face to face with an elderly white woman, also a friend of Vanessa. The white woman looks at Esther fearfully until she learns that Esther too is Vanessa’s friend.

“Who did she think I was, Willie Horton in drag?,” Esther fumed to her friend later over a glass of wine.

Then Esther asks a question that has stayed on my mind:

“When did white people become so afraid? They used to go out discovering countries and shit.”

Some people will say we became afraid after 9-11. But the fear began long before then: when one man first realized that others were different from him.

Back in the nineties I attended a Bible study group at a Byzantine Catholic church in northeast Minneapolis. The topic of the end of the world came up. Father Bryan mentioned that he lived every day as if it were the end of the world. He said it calmly, almost pleasantly.

He didn’t mean that he lived every moment of his life in fear. He meant that if he met his maker that day, he would be ready with a clear conscience of how he lived his life on Earth.

If the end of the world is destined to happen, no color-coded terror alert or overzealous mall cop will prevent it. But not fearing our brothers and sisters will ease it.

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