Mr. and Mrs. Woodward asked me to contribute something to their website. I’m sure I don’t know why. Who’d listen to anything I said? I’m just an old Irish woman who struggles to keep a roof over her head and food on her table. Believe me, the world takes no account of such as I.
(The Woodwards seem to be very nice people but — Quakers? Really? I ask you! You’d never know it to see them, I mean. They dress like you and I, except for Mr. Woodward’s taste in horrid tropical shirts.)
I’m supposed to explain my ideas for sorting out the world, which is just silly. I’m sure I don’t have any prescription for the whole world’s ills. Well, I suppose it would be do a lot of good if everyone who calls themselves a Christian followed the teachings of Jesus. All the teachings of Jesus, mind you, not just the nice bits and the parts about chastity and fidelity. I’m referring to “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” Of course I don’t speak for Our Saviour, but I’m quite sure he didn’t intend for anybody to fight wars and kill people in His name. How many wars are wasting human lives right now over God? I mean, in the end it’s always money, or race or power, but it always seems to start with God. I cannot comprehend the arrogance of a man — it’s usually men — who claims to know which people God has told him to kill. Don’t such men fear the Judgement?
Arrogance — that’s the problem, right there. We are all equal in the sight of God, so what right does any man have to lift himself above his fellows? We’ve all of us sinned and made Jesus shed his tears for us. What we need right now are leaders who feel that burden and remember that their calling is to serve, not to rule. I daresay as more women take positions of authority we’ll see more humility in high places.
Generosity — that’s what the world needs now. Generosity of spirit, so that we can love our neighbors, and generosity with material goods, so that others should be free of want. It astounds me that in a rich country such as America, there is still so much poverty and disease and ugliness. Even families don’t always take care of their own. I visit the shut-in old Catholics and hear their stories. Some of them don’t see their children for months at a time. Tell me, people, what was so all-fired important in Texas that you left your poor mother to struggle in Atlanta, with nothing but the help of overburdened strangers? If I baked twice as many scones, I still wouldn’t have enough left over to bring to the old ones in need.
Of course, generosity isn’t much good if the people trying to be generous are stupid. Far be it from me to scold a person with no brains for their backward character, but it seems as if something nowadays just sweeps all the world’s intelligence into a corner. How many young men have explained their get-rich-quick schemes to me? Enough that if I had a dollar for each one, I’d be rich. “I’m going to record a song . . . ” or a video or draw a comic book or something. The arts are all very well, but learn a trade first. Girls, you’re not immune. The other day a child of twenty or so was sobbing uncontrollably in the Scones, and for what? A hundred or so strangers she’ll never meet had stopped “following” her on some appalling Internet thing. (If more than a hundred people were following me on something, I’d be terrified.) Here’s the kicker, as they say in Georgia — she still had over five hundred “followers!” Barry tells me that on the Internet they call this sort of thing a “First World Problem,” and that’s exactly right.
Stupidity — that reminds me. Why would people, women especially, listen to music written and sung by men who brag about how much they despise and mistreat women? If somebody treats you with disrespect, cut them out of your life. Sad to say, I was involved with men in my youth, though they were never good for me. It was when I finally insisted those scoundrels treat me with respect that they deserted me. The Frenchman was outraged. The Irish momma’s boy was happy to enjoy my company, but he resented me because I’d been with the Frenchman. I tell every girl who comes through my kitchen: if a man doesn’t treat you well and respect you as a person, you have no business with him, no matter how good-looking he is, or how rich he’ll get one day or what kind of car (!) he drives.
I do have a simple suggestion for the confused. If it sounds like a bad idea, it is. If someone has to “sell you” on their ideas or scoffs at you because “you just don’t get it!” they will do you no good, and possibly quite some harm. Yes, there is a place in the world for persuasion, but if you’re being pressured into doing something, take a step back and ask who’ll benefit. My guess: it won’t be you. Generally speaking, the smoother the tongue, the worse the scoundrel.
I’ve met President Jimmy Carter on a few occasions. Everyone in Atlanta has. He’s the least stuck-up person I ever knew. Always at a fundraiser or meeting, that one. We first met at a reception for some political refugees from Lebanon. He gave a talk, and he impressed me with his brains and compassion. It’s good that he’s still with us. You have only to look at him and see that he has God’s work still to do.
I suppose I should say something about Little Five Points. Yes, I know people regard me as one more eccentric in a neighborhood full of them! My reply is this: it’s good that young people have a place where they can be free. So many folks are damaged in their upbringing — it’s little wonder they seek each other out and make their own community. After twenty years here, I can tell at a glance who’s a working artist and who’s just a slacker. Eventually the slackers move on and it’s the genuine artists who stay and create. There’s no malice here in L5P. I know that better than anybody — I’ve been President of the L5P Business Association four times! (And they’re after me to do it again, but I’m too busy with Terra Luna’s Foundation and my grandchildren. The Association will have to soldier on without me.)
I suppose this is enough. I’ve got to get back to doing my taxes. Heavens, but there’s so much more to say. People everywhere chase after sin. So many hearts are ruled by anger, not love. When we see the Church with open eyes, we see that it has been corrupted. Intolerance is everywhere. Perhaps Terra Luna and her friends and family will fulfill the Prophecies and things will get better. I like to think so, but I probably won’t be around to see it. Perhaps that’s just as well. We’ve been through so many dangers, and the ones to come are worse. I don’t know if I could stand to see such terrible things.
The Bible says we can face anything with God on our side. So I will send this off, make myself a cup of tea and finish rendering unto Ceaser. Then there will be time for prayer and quiet reflection before bedtime. If I’m lucky, Terra Luna and Ian will call. Tomorrow we’ll all get up with Sun (or before it, as I do) and resume our proper work. This is the life I came to Atlanta to live, and it suits me.