Posts in Susan’s Musings

Murder in Tennessee

December 1st, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 35 comments

I was heartbroken, as indeed every decent person should be, at the murder of six Tennessee schoolchildren last week. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of heartbreaking news and this quickly disappeared off the national news headlines. This specific incident, though, haunted me. I was also angered at how little attention it received.

Here are the basics. A speeding Chattanooga school bus was driven off its designated route; it overturned and slammed into a tree. So far six children have died with many others injured. Going back months, there are numerous records of parents and students lodging complaints against the driver, Johnthony Walker, for reckless driving as well as for cursing and threatening the students on his bus. The school’s principal also brought her concerns to the attention of school officials. Walker, too, made numerous complaints, clearly showing himself to be unhappy with his work.

I understand that in legal terms the driver is being charged with vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving, rather than murder. That doesn’t cut it for me in human terms. We have an extremely unsatisfactory situation that was kicked down the road until it exploded in tragedy. Now, after deaths and injuries, it received its ten minutes of media attention, producing no outcries from President Obama and evading the interest of the chattering media class. The parents, the teachers and the principal who saw how unfit the driver was are surely guilt and grief-stricken. This will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

What about the rest of us? Why did this move off the front page so quickly? Does anyone doubt that had the driver been white, the president and press would be shouting from the rooftops about how racism (and Donald Trump and the Republican Party) were guilty of these deaths? If the driver shot the children instead of causing the bus to crash, the president and press would relentlessly focus on this incident.

Yet, because the liberal hobgoblins aren’t found in this case, this isn’t worthy of attention. Shouldn’t we be asking how it is that someone who should have been immediately fired when the complaints against him were verified was still entrusted with children’s lives? Shouldn’t we be asking if he was still driving because of union rules, fears of lawsuits or any other legal handcuffs placed on the wrists of the school district? Shouldn’t we be telling parents that in the final analysis they should not place their trust in teachers, principals and schools but need to protect their children themselves? Shouldn’t we be demanding to know what requirements exist for anyone working in the public school system whether as a bus driver, janitor or teacher? Shouldn’t the Black Lives Matter protesters who have all the time in the world to object to November’s election results, claim that the six lives of these Black children matter too? Shouldn’t we ask whether there are tools that parents in a wealthy district would have had at their disposal had a  similarly unfit driver been uncovered?

Millions of parents around this country entrust their children to the government educational system. All too often they get little education. Is it too much to ask that at the very least their physical lives should be protected?

If You Give a Homeschooler Some Salt

November 23rd, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 18 comments

If you have avoided children for the past thirty years, you may not be familiar with the classic book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. This popular tale, written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond, reveals a probable chain of events familiar to us all. If you give a mouse a cookie he might want a glass of milk; the glass of milk might lead to a request for a straw and so on and so forth until the mouse’s desires loop back to requesting another cookie. We’ve all been there, whether with mice, children or ourselves. How many of us have upgraded an outfit, room or website only to discover that the new and improved look compels us to upgrade another and then another item?

This just happened to me. I decided to clean out my pantry and discovered a ridiculous amount of salt. I know how this came about – I don’t cook with salt very much yet I buy new boxes of both table and kosher salt (which describes the size of the crystals, not its kosher status) for Passover each year. Since we never finish these containers, they pile up.

These days, salt is not an expensive item. Even so, I was reluctant to simply throw it away. I texted my two daughters asking if they wanted salt to make relief maps with their children who are in a homeschool geography club. I should have known better. I got an immediate response saying what a wonderful idea it would be if I would make relief maps with the girls. That of course led to searching for videos on how to actually make the salt dough and finding printable maps of Washington and Maryland, the girls’ respective assignments. I needed to pull out paint and scissors and run to the store for flour as well. Since two of my darling granddaughters were already coming over, they might as well stay for supper so I put up a batch of macaroni and cheese which, incidentally, called for a pinch of salt.

I may not be crazy about mice, but if you give a retired homeschooling mother some salt, she will think of an educational project which will lead to enjoying her blessings. Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

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Boos in Boston

November 14th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 57 comments

I think it would be pretty easy for most of us to make a list of ten things that all decent Americans agree on. We might differ on tactics in how to reach a goal, but there aren’t many people who would suggest that ending child abuse or improving education is a bad idea. I feel safe saying that everyone would like to eradicate cancer and help families dealing with cancer.

Yet the audience at a fund-raiser for exactly that cause erupted in boos last weekend in Boston. Why that happened sheds light on Donald Trump’s amazing election victory. For twenty-two years, comedians have performed in an evening that produces publicity and funds for the Cam Neely Foundation, a group dedicated to providing ‘comfort, support and hope to cancer patients and their families.’ The organization’s Comic Come Home fund-raiser is billed as an evening where “every year the audience laughs hard enough to shake the roof!” This year, anger and disgust replaced some of the laughter.

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A New Chance

November 10th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 22 comments

Thousands of words are being written about Donald Trump’s victory, but I feel compelled to add my own. I am immensely proud that this election reinforced a proper American rejection of corruption, demanding that our country recommit to the principle that no one is above the law. It upheld the idea that the IRS, Justice Department and other institutions of government must be apolitical rather than instruments of revenge or favoritism. Voters recognized that with Supreme Court nominations hanging in the balance, they wished to opt for Justices who would respect our country’s foundations rather than make a country in their own image.

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The Fabric of Friendship

November 3rd, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 8 comments

Had you been in Jerusalem last week, you might have seen me sprinting down the street in pursuit of a total stranger. Or, you might have caught me approaching a young Israeli couple at a restaurant and asking them if they had ever spent any time in China. What was going on?

It all started when my husband and I split up for the day. I went to the city of Efrat to spend time with an aunt and uncle and one of my cousins. My husband went to Tel Aviv to meet some Chinese Christian friends with whom we are collaborating on a publishing venture and who were visiting Israel. While I love seeing my family, I was sorry to miss out on what promised to be a fascinating and memorable meeting.

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Moral in the Eye of the Beholder

October 27th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 10 comments

Sometimes, living in today’s world can make one dizzier than a sped up roller coaster. A few times recently, newspaper articles starkly contrasted with one  another.

A short while ago, Gene Klein wrote a thoughtful article for the Wall Street Journal explaining why 94 year old Oskar Gröning, who was a paper-pusher at Auschwitz, correctly received a prison sentence despite his age and the comparative non-violence of his position in the concentration camp. Mr. Klein ended his piece with these words, “It is necessary that Mr. Gröning be punished, not only because of the past, but also because of the future…Anyone who participates in genocide—no matter what their role, no matter how long ago, no matter how repentant–is forever responsible and forever accountable.

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Autism, TSA and the Upcoming Election

October 20th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 6 comments

Recently, my husband and I flew on Thursday to Phoenix, where he spoke for a Dave Ramsey sponsored Business Boutique event on Friday and for a local synagogue on Shabbat.

Not until the next day did we read of massive TSA lines in Chicago and of 3,000 bags that missed outgoing flights from the Phoenix airport due to TSA incompetence. In contrast, our TSA lines moved swiftly and it was the airline itself rather than TSA that behaved incompetently, consistently announcing an on-time departure despite the fact that anyone looking out of the terminal could see that there was no airplane on the tarmac. Eventually, they changed the departure time on the announcement board — to an hour after the flight actually left. Nonetheless, we were grateful to arrive safely at our destination and to meet our luggage there.

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Vulgar, Lewd and Getting My Vote

October 13th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 44 comments

If you’ve known me for a while, you know that I have a visceral, negative reaction to vulgarity. Guests to our home have been on the receiving end of a withering stare for saying something judged as ‘not refined,’ an anemic, weak distant relative of Donald Trump’s words. I expect my daughters to be treated with respect and I reject ‘locker room’ banter as immature and  boorish.

I’m also voting for Donald Trump. I have nothing to say to anyone voting for Hillary Clinton because of Trump’s leaked words. That is simply hypocritical. Not only does she possess her own potty mouth, she colluded with her husband to degrade the moral level of America.  On this issue, she and Trump are two sides of a coin.

The other option is one that many public Republican figures are taking—to leave the president option blank on their ballot. I admit to feeling a pull towards that choice. Donald Trump is not only vulgar, but he is also a braggart and possessor of other poor character traits that I despise. While I thought that his statement apologizing for his disgusting words was classy, I think it would be naive to assume he is actually a changed man. As a private individual, I can give him the benefit of the doubt, but I need to vote for him acknowledging that his repentance might be transient or even expedient rather than sincere.

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Choose Life

October 11th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 14 comments

What if you do not want to pray for life? That thought ran as an undercurrent through my mind as I prayed the extra prayers during the Ten Days of Repentance that culminate with Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. Many of those prayers plead with God for the opportunity to live for another year. The soft whisper I heard was spurred by a beautifully written article, dictated by use of voice recognition technology because author Ben Mattlin cannot use his hands. Severely disabled from birth, he fights for life each day as he has done from infancy. During that time, he graduated from Harvard, became an accomplished financial journalist, married and raised two children, and achieved many other goals of which many healthy people only dream. In his article, he explains how much he values his life and how much value his life has. He was partially motivated to write by the legally sanctioned refusal of treatment to a fourteen-year-old born with the same birth defect as he, spinal muscular atrophy.

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Adina’s Israel Story – Guest Musing

October 6th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 10 comments

Adina is the daughter of one of my best friends and one of my daughter’s best friends.  My aunt and uncle and many of my cousins and friends live within a short distance of Adina and her family. This is her story.

We overslept this morning. Instead of our usual 6am wake up, my husband woke with a start at 6:50. I was nursing the baby while he got up to brush his teeth. Within minutes he returned, handing me his phone silently. “Terrorist apprehended in Zayit neighborhood of Efrat, one wounded, all residents told to stay indoors.” I handed his phone back to him and said, “oh.”

Oh.

Sometimes there is no response to the unthinkable. Sometimes there is no response to what is almost inevitable and yet we hope and pray so desperately to avoid.

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