My Mother made a beautiful stitched picture that hangs on my wall. Every time I look at it, I think of her fingers carefully pulling the needle and thread. The message was important to her and it should be for all of us today.
History also is most important to us because it teaches us so much. We can look at what has happened in the past and in some ways project the future…unless we refuse to learn. Most present-day issues are sensitive and hard to discuss, but we must think about these things.
What kind of “fragile” times are we going through and what has history taught our last generations?
Let’s take a hard look at now and then.
- Everyone has become fearful of the possibility of becoming sick or dying from our recent virus.
- Governments have taken control world-wide more than we can remember in our modern history.
- Life and travel has completely changed.
- Tragedies have led people to respond with demonstrations as they let their concerns be known. This is the democratic way, according to our Constitution, and should be respected.
- More tragedies have occurred for business owners, of every race and creed, whose livelihood has been ruined by the breaking and looting, which should have never been connected with those wanting peaceful demonstrations. Some organizations have as their goal to bring down democracy and pit our citizens against one another.
(Let’s look at those in other parts of the world who are fighting to keep their democratic way of life.)
- People in Hong Kong are facing further governmental crack-downs from mainland China as Beijing proposes new legislation. ( “China stunned Hong Kong when it announced it would impose a national security law on the city. Many worry this could spell the end of Hong Kong’s unique freedoms…”) whole story on BBC News
Why even mention the present day problems? It is because these are only a few of the world’s problems that makes “Life Fragile” for all of us, in this country and around the world today.
What can we, the present generations, learn from history?
- The slave owners and slave ship captains were the ones responsible for the sins of the past…not people living today. By making slavery the sin of those living today only makes our society more fragile. Unfortunately, history cannot be relived, as much as we would like to correct the wrongs of the past. Looking at and condemning the actions of the past by individuals or governments is one thing…to place it on the shoulders of those not responsible is another.
We talk of the need for “being together and unified” and for everyone to work together to rid all injustices in society. Yes, the present and future are our responsibilities. To rectify present problems is an honorable goal that most would want to see accomplished, but talk is cheap if we continue to blame those who are not responsible for past injustices.
Mass blame only leads to disruption and a society sickness within groups of people, leadership, the media, and our communities in general.
( Let’s think also about German history.)
- The Nazi regime blamed an entire group of people. They were the builders of the death camps, designed to eliminate the Jews from their culture. I had the honor of taking young Americans to Auschwitz to remember this tragic time during World War II. It is an experience one never forgets. Even the Jews, themselves, could not believe that their businesses were being destroyed and that they would be rounded up to die, simply because they were a particular group of people. Society has a way, through the evils of leadership, to turn against one another. Interestingly enough, Hitler continued to use the expertise of his Jewish doctors and dentist. How could he not have known the value of the individual? Mass hysteria became the weapon of choice, as well as propaganda through the German media, leaflets, and posters against people as a whole.
The German youth today, or their parents, are not responsible. We will make life more fragile if we try to pin on innocent people what tragedies were espoused when they were either tiny children or not even born.
- Past generations of Native Americans had the horror of walking to their death on the Trail of Tears, which is a despicable part of our own history of governmental policies. The white, mostly of European descent, who rode their wagons through the tribal territory to settle the West were often murdered and scalped. No living Native American had anything to do with this tragedy.
- We must not forget the hundreds of Japanese Americans, who were placed by our government leaders during World War II in the U.S.Internment Camps because of being Japanese. The generations today of U.S. Government officials had no part in this.
- Because some policemen have acted in evil ways against defenseless people, ALL men and women wearing the badge can not be blamed or demonized for the acts of others… for many have dedicated their lives to helping safe-guard our communities. Without them, those who mean harm will be let loose on those who will see a greater need to protect themselves. In this case, those wishing for more gun control may find their proposals will fall on deaf ears.
Are we getting the picture?
Blaming ALL people for the actions of some only leads to an extremely fragile society. It leads to the persecution of the innocent and instability of our nation and the world today.
Our last question: Can destroying the representations of history remove it from memory?
Condoleezza Rice, former 66th Secretary of State, explained her view about destroying history to the Washington Examiner. She believes that the Confederate statues and associated names of schools and universities should be used as teaching tools. It is as a way to understand history even as we learn not to celebrate it.
This is why we, the Believers in Christ and of the dignity of all people who were created in the image of God, must not forget to pray. We must pray for each other, all mankind of every nationality and the government leaders around the world, who have the power to turn our world upside down.
We are a fragile world.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela, former Pres. of South Africa
Video: Turn up sound
Our road to freedom for all has not been an easy one, but it is one that is continually worked on in the United States. Our founding fathers of this nation would not know our country in years past or today as they worked hard to overcome the inequalities of all humans and to build a country where freedom is for all.
They had to work through their own problems of slavery, finally giving freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation. In later years we as a nation had to make things better for native Americans whose lands had been taken and whose sufferings were evident in the Trail of Tears. Men of character stood up to speak for the civil rights of all through demonstrations and civil rights sit ins. Our soldiers have stood duty around the world to guarantee that no nation would take these freedoms away from our homeland. Evil raised it’s head once more and brought the terror of removing our freedoms in our present day. We must all know what what these freedoms mean and vow that they will never be taken away.
The word FREEDOM is defined as :
- the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government orthe state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.Just as anyone who has lost their freedom or in our past history, those who had to fight for their freedoms, FREEDOM has great meaning. Men of good will have seen the wrongs done and have tried to set things right. We know that through new laws and legislation, all can eat in restaurants, have access to education and much more in our country. Sadly, the non-violent approach to protest so cherished by Dr. King has lost its way in many cities, even though many try to stay true to his beliefs. Buildings and businesses have been burned and destroyed bringing no one to a better life or more justice. Freedom, as we desire it, is lost in this type of aggression for those who want change the most.We usually think of someone being imprisoned or taken hostage in deplorable conditions when we think of lost freedoms. It actually is more than that. If a person has been active and suddenly is disabled in someway that they no longer can do the things they once did, this is a loss of freedom. Many are courageous and build upon a new life. As far as the freedoms we enjoy because we have a government and a Constitution that guarantees our liberty and freedom, we may not think of what it would be like to lose it as other nations have.Let us think about that for a moment.What are some of our basic freedoms in this country and other countries world-wide with a democracy?Here in the U.S. we are have the following freedoms guaranteed by the THE BILL OF RIGHTS. If you are an American citizen and do not know your rights, then you should read this carefully. Men and women have died for the protection of these rights for you.(Some history in brief)“In drafting the Constitution, most of the Founding Fathers believed that the safeguards written into it would protect the rights of Americans. But when the Constitution was sent to the states in 1787 for ratification, a great roar of disapproval went up. In Virginia, Patrick Henry protested vigorously against the lack of a specific statement of rights. Other Americans from different states demanded that a Bill of Rights be added to the Constitution. A number of states ratified the Constitution only conditionally. That is, they would approve the Constitution only if it were changed to include these rights. Two years after the new American government went into effect, the Bill of Rights was added as the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Congress discussed nearly 200 proposals for amendments before it presented these ten to the states for approval. The states ratified these amendments, and they became part of the Constitution in 1791:FREEDOM OF RELIGION ...guarantees to all Americans the right to practice any religion they choose, or to practice no religion at all. (Notice it was chosen first.)
Congress is forbidden to establish any religion as our nation’s official religion. Congress cannot favor any one religion over others or tax citizens in order to support any one religion.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH…The right to express your ideas and opinions… Freedom of speech also means the right to listen to the thoughts and opinions of others. This freedom guarantees that Americans are free to express their thoughts and ideas about anything. They may talk freely to their friends and neighbors or speak in public to a group of people. Of course, no one may use his freedom of speech to injure others. If a person knowingly says things that are false about another, he may be sued in court by the person or persons who believe they have been harmed by what he said. Americans are free to express opinions about their government or anything else. They are free to criticize the actions of the government and of government officials. In a dictatorship, where the nation’s government has all the powers, the people have no right to speak like this. They do not dare to criticize the actions of the government. If they do, they may be imprisoned. But all Americans enjoy the freedom of speech, which is guaranteed in the First Amendment.
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS…The freedom to express your ideas and opinions in writing. This freedom is closely related to freedom of speech…This writing may be in newspapers, books, magazines, or any other printed or written form. Americans are also free to read what others write. They may read any newspaper, book or magazine they want. Because they are free to read a variety of facts and opinions, Americans can become better-informed citizens. (Reading does not necessarily mean agreement to what is written.)
FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY …freedom to hold meetings. Americans are free to meet together to discuss problems and to plan their actions. Of course, such meetings must be carried on in a peaceful way.
FREEDOM OF PETITION…The freedom of petition is the right to ask your government to do something or to refrain from doing something… The freedom of petition gives you the right to write to your Congressman and request him to work for the passage of laws you favor. You are free to ask him to change laws that you do not like. The right of petition also helps government officials to know what Americans think and what actions they want the government to take.
THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS…The Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees Americans the right to bear arms. In the early years of our nation, Americans needed weapons in order to serve in the militia, or volunteer armies, that were established to defend our states. The militia provided protection during emergencies, too. Many Americans also believed that without weapons they would be powerless if the government tried to overstep its powers and rule by force.
“NO-QUARTERING” RIGHT…The Third Amendment states, “No soldier shall, in times of peace, be quartered in any house. . . .” Under British rule, the colonists sometimes had to feed and house British soldiers against their will. As a result, Americans wanted this practice forbidden under the Bill of Rights.
THE RIGHT TO EQUAL JUSTICE…The Bill of Rights contains many rights that are guaranteed to persons accused of a crime. Amendments Five, Six, Seven, and Eight are all concerned with these rights. Our nation places great importance on these rights in order to guarantee equal justice for all Americans.
- A person must be indicted, or formally accused of a crime, by a group of citizens called a “grand jury” before he can be brought into court for trial.
- A person accused of a crime is guaranteed the right to know what law he is accused of breaking.
- A person accused of a crime has a right to a prompt public trial by a jury of his fellow citizens.
- An accused person cannot be put into prison and kept there for weeks or months while awaiting a trial. He has the right to leave jail, in most cases, if he can raise a certain sum of money, or bail, as a pledge that he will appear at his trial.
- An accused person has a right to a lawyer to represent him in court.
- All the testimony and evidence against an accused person must be presented publicly in court.
- The accused person has the right to call any witnesses to appear if their testimony will help him.
- The accused person cannot be forced to testify or give evidence against himself.
- If the accused person is found guilty, he cannot be given cruel or unusual punishment. If the accused person is found not guilty of a serious crime, he cannot be tried a second time for this same crime.
THE RIGHT TO OWN PRIVATE PROPERTY…The Fifth Amendment guarantees Americans the right to own private property. No person may take away anything that we own. Nor can the government seize our land, money, or other forms of property without cause, or without paying for it. The right to own private property is one of America’s basic freedoms. Our free economic system is based upon this right.
THE RIGHT TO ENJOY MANY OTHER FREEDOMS…To make doubly sure that Americans should enjoy every right and freedom possible, Amendment Nine was added to the Constitution. This amendment states that the list of rights contained in the Bill of Rights is not complete. There are many other rights that all Americans have and will continue to have even though they are not mentioned in the Bill of Rights. Among them are the following.
- Freedom to work at any job for which we can qualify
- Freedom to marry and raise a family
- Freedom to receive a free education in good public schools
- Freedom to join a political party, a union, and other legal groups
- Freedom to live or travel anywhere in our nation
As a final guarantee of our rights, the Tenth Amendment set aside many powers of government for the states. This Amendment says that all powers not given to the federal government by the Constitution, nor forbidden to the states, are set aside for the states, or for the people. This provision leaves with the states the power to act in many ways to guarantee the rights of their citizens.
Government is the authority or power that people establish to help them run their affairs.
Governments serve many important purposes, but the most important one is that government makes it possible for people to live and work together. Government provides us with rules of conduct we can follow. Government makes it possible for people to live by known laws, and helps provide many services that citizens acting alone could not perform themselves.
Our nation’s government is based on the American Constitution. This Constitution, together with its Bill of Rights and other amendments, provides us with a workable plan of government. The Constitution also guarantees to all Americans many priceless rights and freedoms.
Our nation’s government is based upon the approval, or consent, of the people who are governed. It is a federal system in which certain powers are given to the national government and other powers are left to the states and to the people. Certain powers are shared by both federal and state governments. In both federal and state governments, powers are separated and balanced among three branches of government. (From: Hartley, William H., Vincent, William S.. American Civics. N.Y., 1974, pp. 34ff)
Protesting has its place in our democracy, but the statement below should make us think seriously about the cost of freedom, for it is not free.Video: Our National Anthem: A tribute to all who love our country and our American flag, the symbol of our FREEDOM. (turn on sound)
So much has happened to our veterans since this post in 2009 when vets were waiting eagerly to visit the Washington memorials. Many have died..or continued to linger in hospitals. Others perished, not on the battle field, but while waiting to see a doctor stateside. Nevertheless, this is the day that we remember them…their courage, their fortitude and much more. They are the young and the old among us who should never be forgotten.
(from a previous post) Probably He had a twinkle in his eye as he waited outside the restroom in our plane. As I opened the door, he said “I’ve cleared the decks for you!” Laughing, I said “Well, I want to thank you for your service to our country.” He responded that his job had been to bury thousands and thousands of men who died on foreign shores. “This was my job.” I looked into those bright, blue eyes of a man in his eighties and knew he had seen the horrors of war. He had been the last to look on the torn and battered bodies of those young men who had never made it home.
These veterans on our plane were being sent free of charge by Southwest Airlines to Washington, D.C to see the memorial for these brave men. Honor Flight Network ( www.honorflight.org ) was their sponsor. They raise funds to transport and house veterans to the D.C. area to view the WWII memorial. Many of them had never seen the memorial and knew their chances were getting shorter and some could not afford to go on their own. Their decision was to go to D.C. and to share with other WWII veterans their stories and their lives. The media was there to talk with them, as we waited for our flight. We had a short service in the terminal where American flags were given out and a young man sang the National Anthem. I noticed several things about the reactions of the people, which I hoped these veterans did not observe. A young man sitting across the aisle laughed at the singing of the anthem. Many, however, gave an applause as the veterans entered in wheelchairs and with canes. Most regretful of all was once we were on our plane, one woman, perhaps in her 50’s, was complaining to everyone that she had to sit behind the group. She made a statement “We have paid for our flight.” My statement to her is that these men paid much more in suffering, years away from home, and the sadness they had endured in war. I liked what one of the volunteers had on the back of her t-shirt. “If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read it in English, thank a veteran.”
While I was teaching 5th graders in Florida schools, one of my projects was to have veterans and Holocaust survivors come to the classroom and talk one on one with my students. They heard their stories and then shared them with the rest of the class. One of my fifth graders was wise enough to say, “My generation may be the last to speak in person to these men and women.”
We must not forget the women who contributed so much during the war, either on the front or at home in the plants making munitions and other necessities for the war. My mother, who is now 92, worked in one of these plants. A newspaper clipping is special to us, showing her listening to the radio and hearing that “Japan Surrenders”.
There used to be 16 million U.S. veterans of World War II . Now they are dying at a rate of more than 1,000 a day and number about 2.5 million according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. My husband, Bill, is a retired Navy Chaplain who is called on to speak at many of these burials. Recently, he presided at a funeral for a WWII veteran who was a POW (Prisoner of War) and had never received his Purple Heart. Unfortunately, he died two days before receiving it officially.
Yes, we are grateful for all they did. We are glad they could see a memorial meant for them and those who died in World War II. We will honor them always. They are the ones called the “Greatest Generation“. We must not forget them. We also must not forget that there are very young men and women who have given so much of their lives on recent war fronts.
Yes, this WWII vet had a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his face, as we talked on the plane. May he always keep this wonderful joy for living. He is a special person.
Our brave men and women are still on the fighting front…even though we are told they are not taking a “combat” position. We know the truth is that once you are facing danger from a foe, the enemy does not stop to ask “Are you in combat or just advising?”. The American people are smart enough to see through the semantics. These active duty young people are in harms way and deserve our respect and prayers…as do all veterans.
Every so often, my husband and I like to venture into a part of Florida known as Old Florida. It is entirely different from the commercial Disney World type places that most people of the world think of.
It is quiet…a laid-back part of country life that appeals to us. Often it is a place with large live oaks, palmetto bushes, winding trails and the country folk that are the down- to- earth backbone of our nation. Such a place we visited a few days ago.
Traveling through Ocala; on to Rosewood (the subject of another writing soon), and over the Gulf of Mexico is a non-changing little town of Cedar Key.
Nothing is spectacular there. The buildings date back to earlier days and lean a little to the side. The newer places have not had the experience of a Florida Hurricane to give them the falling over appearance, but give them time!
If you are an adventure seeker, looking for the bright spots and excitement of a large city, you will not find it at Cedar Key. You will find nature, the wide blue waters of the Gulf lapping gently at the shore. The sunsets are pink and the country music fills the air from the local tavern. It is a place to bike or walk and to say, “howdy”.
The following slide presentation will give you a better understanding of this Old Florida town, if you have never been to Cedar Key. Don’t be in a hurry…they aren’t. Click on the presentation below.
|Free photo slideshow generated with Smilebox|
This is a SERIES on the WILD, WILD WEST. It will give historical facts, but also highlight the personal stories of those who lived during this time of growth and transition in our country. You will meet heros of the west as well as those who did evil in the name of good. I begin with the story of Col.John Chivington of Colorado and his decisions that changed the Cheyenne tribe of Native Americans forever.
Black Kettle was a friend of the Cheyenne leader named Lean Bear. During the time of the Civil War, Lean Bear made a trip with a delegation to speak to President Abraham Lincoln. He expressed to Lincoln that he wished to live in peace for ” the balance of his life.” He deplored violence and was determined to tell the tribes to not take part in the war. As reported by the Washington Evening Star, Lincoln told Lean Bear that even though we Americans were at war with one another, we were not as likely to be as violent as the “red brethren.” After their discussion, Lincoln presented Lean Bear with a medal which he wore proudly. He considered the medal a token of friendship from the “White Father at Washington“.
Little did he know that another man, who was supposed to be a man of peace would become the Cheyenne nation’s greatest enemy. This man was Col. John Chivington, a former United Methodist Christian preacher.
Col. Chivington’s background should be looked at here. He grew up in Ohio and at the age of twenty-three was ordained a minister. He established congregations, supervised the building of churches and established some missionary expeditions to the Wyandot Indians in Kansas. Regardless, there was no peace in paradise. The churches of this area of Ohio were not happy with Chivington’s preaching on anti-slavery. In fact, on one occasion while he was preaching, a pro-slavery group came to the church planning to tar and feather him. He received a new name that day as he went into the pulpit with the Bible in one hand and two pistols. He shouted to the congregation and those against him, “By the grace of God and these two revolvers, I am going to preach here today. The new name was the “Fighting Parson“. One would think that with this background he would be the last to be intolerant of a minority group.
Governor William Gilpin of Colorado tried to commission Chivington as a chaplain, but he did not take to the praying with the troops. His political ambitions stood in the way. He wanted to lead. Therefore, he accepted a fighting position instead. He was considered a hero for his part in defeating the Confederates at Glorietta Pass in New Mexico. Taking advantage of this success and the tensions between the whites and Indians, he voiced his opinions. “The Cheyennes will have to be roundly whipped ..or completely wiped out..before they will be quiet. I say that if any of them are caught in your vicinity, the only thing to do is to kill them. ” This type of speech was also passed on to the church deacons and no treaty was to be made with the tribal nations. The Massacre at Sand Creek took place in 1864. Col Chivington knew the Indians to be peaceful but did nothing to stop the attack. Some scholars said he lost control of his men. This may have been because he had prepared them for hate and violence by his commanding speeches.
At one point in the battle, the witnesses saw men, women and children gathered under a huge American flag. Abraham Lincoln had told Black Kettle and Lean Bear that as long as the American flag was above them, no one would be harmed. Col. Chivington and 700 cavalry men rode in into their camp this day without warning. According to one witness, White Antelope, then age 75 and speaking in perfect English, ran out to meet the solders; holding up his hands, and shouting “Stop, stop!” A child was carrying a white flag. None of this stopped the massacre. Part of it was also revenge for the murders of a white family by fringe Indians.
The people of Colorado widely praised the battle of Sand Creek and attended a heroes welcome for the soldiers. Chivington ordered the arrest of six of his men, who had refused to participate at Sand Creek. The U.S. Secretary of War ordered an investigation. Chivington’s best friend , Captain Silas Soule, was one of these men and spoke openly of what others had witnessed. Before he could testify, he was shot in the back on a Denver street. An Army judge publicly announced, after investigations were finished , that Sand Creek had been a “cowardly and cold-blooded slaughter….sufficient to cover every American with shame…”
What happened to John Chivington?
He resigned from the Army before he was brought up for court-martial and could not be punished. No other charges were filed. He tried to run for political office, but withdrew because of the scandal. He moved to Nebraska; tried his hand at various business ventures, but failed. As far as anyone knows, he never repented of his deeds. Working as a deputy sheriff, he died of cancer in 1892.
FOOTNOTES: Each year the descendents of the Cheyenne Nation have a run for healing and peace of their land to honor those who died in the massacre.
In 1996, The United Methodist Church , at the National Convention in Denver, formally apologized to the Arapaho and Cheyenne native Americans for the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864.
Turn on your sound to view the video below on The Sand Creek Massacre
“The dogs will lick your blood….” shouted Friar Petra to HenryVIII, King of England. “It will be as the prophet Elijah told King Ahab and his wife Jezebel” (I Kings 21:19-23) The congregation sat stunned and later this fearless man of God paid for that bit of news to the King when the Friar was executed.
Much is known about this King of England who broke with the Catholic Church to fulfill political control of all aspects of life in England. He did not want the authority of Rome to tell him what to do, whether it was marriage, divorce, or remarriage. All religious offerings and property should be under his control. Ask his six wives who endured his wrath, or those followers of Martin Luther who were burned at the stake. This ailing king’s three hundred pounds, obese body was also dragging an infected leg that finally brought him to his death. It is said that his casket gave way under the weight while being carried over rough roads to Windsor where he was to be buried. The body cavity, in those days, was stuffed with straw, but through the crack, the fluids drained….and truly the dogs did lap his blood as had been prophesied.
The life of this man is well-known and written about in many books of history. He was one of the most corrupt, using his authority to bring dishonor on everything he touched. Touching he did….and a great deal of it. He was tortured in mind and soul about his need to produce a male heir to the throne. Most of his wives either produced females; saw young infants die, or had one miscarriage after another. Power and corruption was not only a male failing of this king, but a female one also. Ann Boleyn, the Spanish beauty with beautiful dark eyes, made plans to get rid of Katharine of Aragon, the King’s wife of twenty years, who could not produce a child.
Henry VIII’s only male heir to the throne was born when he was married to Ann Boleyn. Prince Henry was a follower of the Protestant teachings as was his stepmother, Katharine Parr. Unfortunately, he died at age fifteen from tuberculosis and measles. In giving birth to another baby, a girl, Katharine Parr died soon after from birth complications.
What tragedy did this corrupt leader bring to his people and his nation? During his rampage on Christian believers and the churches, great collections of books were destroyed as churches were burned along with their believers. What does the life of King Henry teach about leadership? The need for wisdom and compassion is part of responsibility. The suffering that corruption brings when power corrupts absolutely is not to be under-estimated.
Turn on your sound for a video tour of Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII’s home.
ARCHITECTURE and THE PEOPLE OF JAPAN is BOYER WRITES’ last in a series. It has been a pleasure to share my writings and photography with you. How excellent is the history of this great nation. I am particularly glad that during the war with Japan that someone had the wisdom not to bomb the wonderful castles and palaces that are standing today. Even with all that war brings in suffering, it is a world heritage that should not have been lost. Our congratulations to the people of Japan who take great pride in their country and have moved forward to be a great world leader.
Many people were interesting in Japan, but one person in particular stands out. She was caring for the moss at the Castle in Kyoto. She combed carefully all the leaves and other small objects or seeds away from the soft, green moss under the pine trees. I wondered if she thought about what she was seeing in this practically microscopic world. Her attention to detail is what makes so much of Japan special. I could tell she was not eager to have her picture taken, so I clicked one quick shot (shown here) and left her to continue her work of making that spot under the tree as perfect as it could be. Perhaps a lesson is learned here about our specific place in life.
If you have not seen the other parts of our series on Japan, you will be able to find them on the pull down table under history. You are invited to share these with friends who may not know about BOYER WRITES at our web address. www.boyerwrites.wordpress.com
As you will notice, there will be many areas and subjects on which we will write. On the right side panel, notices will be placed for your convenience as you check the site. This will not only include slide presentations after most writings, but also selected videos that are entertaining or thought-provoking. Check for these as well.
Enjoy the following slide presentation on Architecture and the People of Japan Turn on your sound.
|Make a Smilebox slideshow|
- The path was narrow and the streets quiet except for the distant sound of the shoes of the Geisha of Kyoto, Japan. These are women who have made a profession of entertaining with their conversation, songs and musical instruments. Many start from a very early age and make a career business that sometimes, after years, results in becoming the owner of the okiya, or geisha house. It appears that the term “geisha“, which means artist is different from the more specific term “geiko“, meaning woman of art. They leave their families to train in a strict environment. I learned these facts while traveling home from Japan recently and reading the book, Geisha of Gion written by one of the most famous geishas, Mineko Iwasaki, who has left the profession and is now married with a family. In Gion, one will find the true geiko, as we will call it throughout this writing. A Meiko is an apprentice geiko or geisha. The years of dedication expected and the modern tourist industry has made a place for the not so trained or disciplined geikos in other areas of Japan. Most modern girls find the distractions of cellphones, the internet, and the fashion world a pull when considering this difficult and dedicated career.
- What type of dedication are we talking about? Long hours of practice in music, song, dance,and speech are a must. Think of it as a kind of boot camp. The new geiko may have the job of cleaning the toilets or serving the other members of the household. There is a certain amount of isolation from the family, friends or those thought to be inferior.
- I was interested in the part of Mineko Iwasaki’s book that told of her wanting to visit a young girl in her school. This girl was blonde and was the child of an American soldier and a Japanese mother, who came from the burakumin people of Japan. These people were considered a type of “untouchable” because they handled the dead people as well as meats and leathers. They were the butchers, the undertakers, and shoemakers. As time has passed, these people do not face as much discrimination, but mostly live in ghetto type surroundings. Of course Mineko was never allowed to visit this family again.
- What is expected of a geiko other than entertainment? Previous years of their lives are completely spent in training. As some westerners have thought, some geikos were prostitutes; but this is not the case for the serious-minded geiko today. A virgin is looked upon highly. Her main duty is to give men a heightened sense of male ego. The geiko is taught to hang on every word of the client and to entice him into believing that he has gone to another place….outside the pressures of the real world. It is to bring good conversation, drink, food and laughter to his life. Mostly, by invitation only, the geiko meets with men for a small dinner or a banquet. The geiko may sit with high level authorities, CEO’s of great companies, and with the famous. They have learned a special type of allure and the ability to make the gentleman feel happy… all in the name of art.
After the war with Japan ended in 1945, the American Occupation Forces brought the geiko and their performances back into being. It is said the General MacArthur was so taken by the beautiful kimono and obi (the sash) that he ask the geiko to give him one. However, she refused. She told him the kimono was her life and fortune. He never asked again.
Another ancient form of entertainment in Japan is the Kabuki Theater. It came into being around the sixteenth century for the common people. Performed exclusively by men, some actors can trace their history in Kabuki Theater back ten generations. It is a lively performance with help of drums and singing that is different and sharp to the western ear. Also the modern Kabuki Theater, which my husband and I attended, has mercy on the “seat” of the tourist. They allow one to attend for only one hour instead of the three or four hours that Japanese find a pleasure. Great showmanship with swords and the role of the drums as the Shogun enters carries the plot. Even gently falling snow on the stage gives the audience the picture of a quiet, soft beauty of the Japanese winter.
The traditions of Japan make it a unique place to visit. The authentic Geisha and The Kabuki in the traditional setting is found no where else in the world.
Slide Presentation below 4th in a series on Japan N. Boyer of BOYER WRITES
|Make a Smilebox slideshow|
His wife is a commoner who attended Harvard and Oxford. She has had her share of stresses in being the Empress. She lost her voice for some time. Their son, Crown Prince Naruhito, is in line to be emperor. He is married also to a commoner, who is highly educated, and has found being a part of the royal family with ancient traditions and the pressures of the Imperial Household Law of 1947 a bit much to handle. The law, in effect, states that the emperor should have a male heir. The couple has had a daughter, Aiko, Princess Toshi. Nevertheless, Princess Masako may be having it a bit easier from the pressure to produce a son since recently the Crown Prince’s brother has just had a male baby. The former Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi, brought before the government (DIET) a bill to allow a female to be a successor to the Imperial title of Emperor. This was put on the back burner after the male child was born into the family. Only one exception was made to the rule of male succession. Empress Gencho (715-724 ) ascended to the Chrysanthemum throne, which is the oldest continuing hereditary monarchy in the world. She was to hold the throne until the son of her deceased younger brother would be mature enough to be emperor. She abdicated to her daughter after reigning nine years. We will see how Japanese history may change in the future.
|Make a Smilebox slideshow|
Two well-known parts of the Japanese culture are the maples and their sacred mountain, Mt. Fuiji. (Also spelled Fuji) Those who have reached the top of this mountain know well the effort to climb 12,388 feet to the summit.
Fuiji is a volcano and has erupted 18 times. The last eruption was in 1707. Hopefully for those hiking as a pilgrim to a sacred spot or a tourist to the area, this is not a day to make history. The most popular trail for many is the Kawaguchiko Trail. Take your climbing stick, or Kongo-tsue, as called in Japanese. It will be a long, hard climb! For some, it is expected that at least once in a life time, this journey will be made. Perhaps that is why one may see…or be passed by an older lady who has forgotten about her arthritis and is making the journey. One writer spoke of seeing such an old woman who slept next to a door of a hut with no mat or pillow, since this hike is over several days. He saw her again on up the trail as he went down. She continued to go on with only sandals on her feet. She was probably hoping for a viewing from the top of Mt. Fiji at sunrise, which is called “gorging“. This is a spiritual journey. It has only been since 1872 that women were allowed to set foot on the mountain because it was believed that they may anger the female deity. Only monks or priests were given permission to climb. Shrines were built near the summit in the 1100’s . Stations and lodges sprang up around 1430. The north side of the mountain is the most popular.
Well, are you ready for your cup of “midzu-no-sakazuki”? This was a drink of water that was a pledge of those who may be separated by death on the hazardous climb in earlier years. Not that it is the most dangerous mountain to climb, but improvements have been made in recent years and there are medicines for altitude sickness, not to mention hiking boots and equipment.
One may also see the Japanese word “Abunai”, meaning Danger, if rocks begin to fall. Do not expect to stay clean on your hike, as the gritty red and black volcanic pumice gets in one’s ears, nose, scalp and teeth. The air grows thin and oxygen is often needed by some. From this spectacular summit one can view thirteen Japanese prefectures. My husband and I decided the climb was not for us since he’ll have knee surgery soon. I thought this was a wonderful excuse! We believed looking at the beautiful red maples with Fuji in the background was just fine.
Speaking of Japanese maples, the word “momiji” has two meanings. The first is “baby hands” and the other is “becomes crimson leaves“. Tradition has it that if a young child or baby is passed through the branches of the maple tree, there will be health and longevity. The maple has been cultured intensively for over 300 years and is a specialty to those who love exotic trees. Some stand 20 feet tall and the same width around. Known as acer palmatum atropurpureum, by its scientific name, it is a popular choice for ornamental gardens.
To those here in the United States that have not visited our National Arboretum in Washington, D. C. , it is a must see! The Nippon Bonsai Association gave the people of the United States a Bicentennial present in 1976 of 53 bonsai trees and 6 viewing stones. Many of these are extremely old. More to come on this in the slide show below.
Our travels in Japan may be over, but the memories are fresh of the beauty of a nation and its people. ( Stay tuned for BOYER WRITES’ continued series. The next will be on the Kyoto Imperial Palace and Gardens. ) However, the next writing will be a belated veteran’s Day tribute to our WWII veterans. On our way back from Japan, we were able to talk to men in their eighties and nineties going to Washington to see the WWII Memorial; some for the first time and probably their last. These are men and women who gave so much during this time of our history. It is also amazing that in just a few years the country of Japan has risen from the ashes to be the great, free and democratic nation that they are today. For a number of years, the Japanese government has taken U.S. teachers on a fully paid scholarship (Fulbright Memorial Scholarship) to various areas of Japan to visit schools and learn of their culture. I was privileged to be able to be a part of that trip and thank the Japanese government for the privilege. BOYER WRITES by N. Boyer Slide presentation below. Turn on the sound.
|Make a Smilebox slideshow|
MODERN JAPAN is the topic of this writing. Having just returned from a trip to Japan, I found that the country is one of the most interesting, extremely clean, and happiest of cultures. Perhaps it is their specific ways of doing things. Everything is in order and the pride of their possessions is evident everywhere. The tiny house and front is scrubbed clean. The streets are immaculate . No where could I find a cigarette butt. The toilets are high-tech with everything anyone could want from the “water shower”, as they called it, or better known as the bidet. The accessibility of the hand washer attached to and just behind the toilet was another innovation. One would think that we Americans may be in the dark ages when it comes to this technology.
Politeness is a must in this culture. There is the friendly greeting or a bow to both friend, stranger, or customer. My husband and I found that students would stop us on the street to ask if they could practice their English; flash the peace sign and give a big smile. Education is all important, as I found out in a previous visit to Japanese schools through a Fulbright Scholarship. Often students attend school, field trips, and then have a tutor until late into the evening.
One interesting picture that I will share with you is a sliding board coming out of a second floor school building. It was obvious that the students slide down the slide to their waiting school bus, probably into the waiting arms of a teacher. Innovation….innovation…everywhere! No wonder it was a great surprise when we entered the Kyoto Mall of about 13 floors and heard a full symphony which turned out to be a small child at the keyboard with electronic switches to give the effects of one hundred plus orchestra.
Japan is the very new with the very old. BOYER WRITES will begin a series on Japan. The first is on Modern Japan (See slide show below) and to follow will be the Historic Japan, Japanese Maples and Mt. Fuji, Kyoto and the Gion District, and the People of Japan. Hopefully you will find this interesting and will log on often. N. Boyer of Boyer Writes
|Make a Smilebox slideshow|
Anyone who has heard Throat Singing had to be in the country of Mongolia or Inner Mongolia of China. It is the strange of the strange to the western ear, but it is music to the ears of this culture at the ends of the earth. What is throat singing? Technically it is described as over- tone chanting. It is the manipulation of the resonances created as air travels to the lungs, past the vocal folds, and out the lips to produce a melody. Now you know, but best if it is heard. ( The sound track on my slide show gives a good illustration.)
The Genghis Khan Mongol Empire united the warring armies of the area of Asia between 1206 and 1228. The were fierce, ruthless, destructive barbarians know for their speed in battle. Their kingdom stretched over most of Central Asia and into China. The Great Wall of China was built to keep out the Mongols.
As a teacher of English, I went to Mongolia for two months and then again on a Christian humanitarian effort. We worked with the blind and the street children. An American girl was there working full-time with the blind. She had lost her sight as a teenager and was so touched by the need of the Mongolian blind that she went there to help. Her driver and translator works beside her.
The people are warm and friendly with a desire to know a traveler. If one should go to the country side, as I did, the real Mongolian bar-b-que is served. The country is dotted with gers (tent home of the nomad) and I will never forget my train ride in the moonlight, with the white of the gers shining under the stars.
One of my students told me a true story of when she was a child, riding through the desert with her family. She was very young and was riding in a basket secured on the side of a camel. Somehow she fell out and the caravan went on without her. It was not until much later that she was discovered missing. Retracing their tracks, they heard her cries and saved her that day. Now she is living in the U.S.A. and probably telling that story to many people. I have written a children’s book depicting her story and often tell of it in my lectures.
My second visit to Mongolia was strictly to help the street children. At that time, the children were often without families because of alcoholism or death within their home. They became a part of a street gang, living in sub-zero weather below the streets in order to keep warm. A student visited me recently and said that she had gone with authorities into these areas to try to help. World Vision is a Christian organization that has made a great difference in the lives of the people. My guest, who was a first time visitor to the U.S, went with me to a local landfill in order to take back some of the technology to the neighborhoods of Ulan Bator , the capital of Mongolia.
It has only been since 1990 that Mongolia has thrown off the communist rule of the Russians and rebuilt their own country. During the seventy year domination, Russia persecuted the Buddhist priests and tried to wipe out the Mongolian culture. This was through training programs to change from the Mongol script to Cyrillic and from the native language of Mongolia to only Russian. When the Berlin Wall was going down, the Mongolians also took to the streets and reclaimed their country. Now the computer age has brought the Mongolians into a different world. No longer are they isolated between Russia and China. They are getting to know the entire world. I am glad they did find their freedom because it gave me a chance to see and meet wonderful people in this land at the ends of the earth.
BOYER WRITES by N.W. BOYER
Video 1 Modern Mongolia video Video 2 Slides and throat singing.
|Make a Smilebox slideshow|
He had been shot, but rose to tear off his coat, showing the blood on his shirt. Pointing to the opera box where Tsar Nicolas sat, Peter Stolypin shouted, “I am happy to die for my Tsar!” and then crossed himself. This was the scene at the Kiev Opera House in 1911. The victim was the Prime Minister who had introduced reforms that resulted in the hangings of so many people that they called the ropes “Stolypin neckties”
Unfortunately, I did not know this story when I went to the opera with my friend ,Irena. The Kiev Opera house burned to the ground after non- extinguished candles set it on fire in 1896. The largest musical libraries of Europe were lost that day, along with costumes and props. The Opera House was rebuilt in the Neo Renaissance style and became the National Opera House of Kiev,Ukraine. It has one of the largest stages in Europe, with excellent engineering. It is certainly one of the most prestigious in all of Ukraine or Russia. The drama of the Murder in the Kiev Opera House must have been unbelievable, but for me this evening with Irena produced one of the most beautiful performances that I have ever seen. I did not have to know the language, just absorb the beauty. Our driver waited patiently outside for Irena and me during the entire presentation. I found the people of Ukraine to be warm and friendly unless they had lived there during the time of Communism. The older people seemed greatly suspicious, but the younger people of the computer generation were worldly-wise and interested in everything Western.
Digging out from communism has not been an easy task. Everything in today’s Ukraine is in short supply and the people feel the effects of the “Russian style” mafia. Having gone to this country to teach English at a Christian university, I heard the stories of those who had their lives taken when refusing to sell property to those in charge or their businesses were burned.
It was also extremely sad when looking at the children of the state-run orphanages. We had been given a “dog and pony” show as we strolled the buildings. The bathrooms had perfectly white towels hanging orderly in a row….while the children stayed outside on the playground. Surely something would have been a little used…but was not. We also noticed that the children did not smile. There was a real sadness that hung over the place. (See slide show) Later, we traveled to a Christian run orphanage where the children were happy, laughing and smiling. Yes, they too were short of everything, but the atmosphere was completely different.
Irena and I went to St. Sophia Russian Orthodox Church in Kiev. It was constructed in 1017 to honor Prince Yaroslavl the Wise after his victory over Asian nomadic tribes. The monastery was founded in 1630. The beauty of this place is hard to describe. Therefore, I will allow the slide presentation below to do that for me.
There was a murder at the Opera House in 1911. There has been much blood shed in Russia. Let’s pray that the new found freedom that Ukraine has experienced in the last years will see them through to a peaceful time. No longer must they have sad faces. Although the older generation seems to look with suspicion, the internet has brought them into a new world. I am glad that I was brought into theirs. BOYER WRITES BY N.W BOYER (See slide show below)
|Make a Smilebox slideshow|
The Japanese called it the “Sugi Tree” that whispers in the wind and the birds carry its message. They were speaking of the Cypress tree that is known as the Bald Cypress in Florida and other coastal places of the South. Louisiana adopted it as a state tree. It probably originated in Asia Minor around the Island of Cyprus because of the name. It is beneficial and flood tolerant. The great Cypress Swamps are a special part of the Florida eco system. In ancient times, the Cypress was a memorial plant for famous people. Its great main trunk is usually surrounded by cypress knees. These make a place for the birds to sit and dry their feathers. It is also decay resistant and boats are built of this sturdy wood. Perhaps the Japanese were right. If one listens, these old cypress trees may be whispering. We may find it hard to actually hear over the noise of the motor boats or the frogs, but it is worth a try. Those birds may have a message.
BOYER WRITES by N.W. BOYER (Enjoy a slide presentation of Cypress Trees on Little Lake Harris, Howey in the Hills, FL )
|Make a Smilebox photobook|