Friday, November 24, 2017

Secrets of the Kitchen Goddess

The Kitchen Goddess is watching me as I rinse the collard greens to put them into the large pot to begin cooking for Thanksgiving dinner. The greens will join the chunked potatoes, onions, garlic and tri-colored bell peppers already simmering in butter, garlic and Portabello mushrooms at the bottom of the pot. Soon they will be joined by three ham hocks boiling in a couple of cups of chardonnay to create the stock for the greens.

The kitchen smells wonderful.

The Kitchen Goddess smiles approvingly.

Everything I know about cooking I learned from the two most important women in my life. One was the Kitchen Goddess, Henrietta Hadley, our beloved Nanny. The other was St. Marge, my beloved Mother.

I think she’d be proud…

The shrine to our Nanny turned Kitchen Goddess is actually a large cookie jar which stands on the shelves on which we keep our pots and pans against the far wall of the kitchen. I bought the cookie jar years ago at an African-American Heritage event at Hannibal Square. It’s the heart of the historically black section of Winter Park complete with an arts center and municipal auditorium. It’s also the part of Winter Park where African-Americans are struggling with forces of “gentrification,” a condescending description which masks the reality of a minority population being displaced by wealthier, and largely white, developers.

The arts center is where the Equal Justice Initiative Task Force of which I am a member meets monthly. Our goal is to commemorate a massacre of up to 60 African-Americans in nearby Ocoee as a result of their attempts to vote in the 1920 presidential election. The task force is also charged with erecting a marker to commemorate the lynching of July Perry in Orlando consequent to that massacre.

I think Henrietta would be proud. She was the one who made me aware of why it was dangerous for her grandchildren to be out of the house on nights when white men wreaking of Budweiser and Jim Beam would careen through the Lincoln Terrace section of Bushnell, Confederate flags fluttering from the back of pickup trucks without mufflers.

Her’s was the face that made it impossible for me to buy into the sea of racism in which my childhood occurred. She was the example that proved the living refutation of all the dehumanizing things that passed for conventional “wisdom” about black people in a small town in Central Florida on the edge of the Bible Belt during the conflict-ridden days of desegregation in the 1960s.

She was simultaneously the source of my most painful ongoing cognitive dissonance as well as the object of my deepest loving gratitude.

And I will always be in her debt.

Smiling approval and that knowing look….

I feel her eyes on me as I sauté the yellow and zucchini squash for the casserole. I don’t use nearly as much black pepper as she did in her squash, a spicy soul food dish cooked in bacon grease that to this day still brings back happy memories from the kitchen in our home. No doubt my own ongoing love of soul food finds its roots in her cooking. But I can hear her directions as I mix in the bell peppers, onions, mushrooms and garlic (Don’t let it burn, Harry) and get ready to add the egg and cheese mixture before going into the oven.

There are smaller representations of black nannies around my kitchen that came from our home in Bushnell. Henrietta worked for my family about 20 years from before my sister’s birth in 1963 until after her graduation from high school, just after Henrietta's own grand-daughter graduated. Long after she no longer worked for us, we continued to go to her home in Lincoln Terrace, which my Mother had helped refurbish through her work at the Farmer’s Home Administration. It was the highlight of our Christmas Day to take her presents and a few dishes from our Christmas dinner.

Some might see these small statuettes as racist. And perhaps for some they are, sold as they are in truck stops at the exits of interstate highways across the Bible Belt and in souvenir shops in more charming venues like Charleston and New Orleans.

But I always smile when I see the small statues of black nannies around my kitchen. For me, they convey the almost palpable presence of a woman I deeply loved who changed my life forever.

I hear her voice freely giving expert advice - when asked - on everything from my love life to folk remedies for rashes from stinging nettles to who would win the high school football game Friday night. I see her holding my sister – her baby, she told people – on the front seat of Daddy’s pickup truck as I would drive her home in the afternoons once I finally got my driver’s license. And I remember her standing in line to vote with my Father after work down at the Bushnell Woman’s Club where the poll was located. It would be many years before I figured out that my Dad stood there silently with her to make sure Henrietta was not denied the right to vote.

I also see the face of her oldest daughter nodding at me with that same knowing look. It was she who came in Henrietta’s place to my Mother’s funeral years after Henrietta herself had died, the only person of color in the First United Methodist Church in Bushnell that day.

“Stolen plants grow the best…”

The smells in the kitchen are wonderful. Dinner time is drawing near. The Kitchen Goddess nods approvingly.

I look through my kitchen window to the jungle in my back yard. The angel trumpets are gorgeous right now with their foot long blossoms that begin white, turn yellow and finally orange, their perfume pervading the damp night air.

I can hear her voice saying, “You know, stolen plants always grow better.” And, truth be told, that’s how a lot of plants from the golden cassia tree to the glossy leaved Morea irises came to be in our yard in Bushnell and now populate my jungle in Orlando. “Just take you a little piece of this and stick in the dirt and water it. It’ll grow,” she said.

And she was right, as she almost always was.

Christmas Day, 1982

There is something wonderful about feeling the presence of those you love who have gone before you. That’s particularly true in the context of a Thanksgiving meal being prepared for a crowd of 17 loved ones, family of birth and family of choice. There is a positively sacramental aspect in seeing the symbols of loved ones, envisioning their faces and hearing the echo of their long-gone voices, reminders of a grace-filled life that was full of loving relationship.

The Kitchen Goddess is absolutely beaming as the last dish is pulled from the oven.  

I call everyone together to the dining room. We circle around the recently refinished dining room table, the table on which we all grew up eating family dinners, now covered with my Mother’s table cloth, glowing with candles. We join hands and silently give thanks for all the many blessings of this life. I conclude with a short prayer from the Book of Common Prayer: “For these and all thy other many blessings, may G-d’s holy name be praised through Jesus the Christ our Lord.”

Now it’s time to eat.

Buried Chests of Family Treasures

Before the night is over, my Brother will have brought in from his car two huge boxes of family photos that he found in our house in Bushnell. When he and Ruthie, his wife, picked up the bed from my sister’s old room to move it to the van to bring back to Winter Park, the two long, shallow boxes suddenly revealed themselves, bearing decades of family history. 

Once the pies are all cleared away, David deposits them on the dining table and opens them up.

We pick through the photos together, telling family stories and trying to remember names of relatives and friends long gone. There are photos of the three of us as children. My brother and I rag my sister on her first Easter photo in 1964. “You have no have no idea how hard we had to work to get that bunny hat on you and to get you to hold still long enough to take the photo.”

There were photos of my Brother and I in our hippie days, long hair and sideburns. And there were photos of our parents in the days of their courtship and marriage when they were students at the University of Florida in the late 1940s.

Perhaps it was no accident that the first photo my fingers touched bore the image of Henrietta Hadley. From the next room, I could feel the smile of the Kitchen Goddess, that knowing look on her face.  

Harry Scott Coverston
Orlando, Florida

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.

Most things worth considering do not come in sound bites.

For what does G-d require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d? (Micah 6:8, Hebrew Scriptures)

 © Harry Coverston 2017


Resisting the Siren Song on Black Friday

On this day after Thanksgiving, with our stomachs still full of yesterday’s feasts, we will be pounded by the siren song of unabashed consumerism. This should be distinguished from a consumption of what we need to survive or even that which will make us happy. Consumption is necessary for survival, consumerism is not. Indeed, this is a particularly vicious consumerism that will draw our very identities into question only to supply a manufactured – and inevitably costly – replacement.

Buying Into Myths of Inadequate Lives

We will be told that our lives cannot be happy unless we have the newest bells and whistles of technologies with ever shorter shelf lives. This guarantees an ongoing downward spiral of consumption of goods manufactured from rare metals and toxic plastics at great cost to the Earth. 

We will be told that people will not love us unless we demonstrate our love with the consumer goods we have been assured will win their hearts and insure their ongoing affection toward us. We will be told our social gatherings will be unbearably dull without sugar and fat laden food and beverages we will purchase for people who will arrive wearing the latest mass-produced “fashions” and gaudy jewels pitched through the smarmiest of names and sentimental ads. 

They will come wreaking of bottled scents bearing exotic names we are told will transport us from our pedestrian lives. And they will drive the latest earth-destroying vehicles we are told will convey our status and reflect our fondest childhood wishes to our gatherings .

Ironically, many of us will purchase all these commodities to commemorate the birth of a Christ-child born into poverty whose most memorable teaching began “Blessed are the poor…”  

Many of us will gladly respond to the siren song on this Black Friday. Indeed, before the last food from our Thanksgiving feast was stored in freezer bags and dishes were washed and put away last night, the local consumerist cheerleading masquerading as news was already reporting that people were beating down the doors of big box stores. Live coverage showed shoppers frantically sprinting down store aisles to join the feeding frenzies around bins of goods temporarily marked down to prices slightly above the cost of production plus a modest profit.

You see, they’ve figured out the game. The know those marked down goods in inevitably limited supplies won’t last. Indeed, they are merely the lure ultimately designed to insure bait and switch sales to higher priced goods once the mark downs run out and well trained consumers feel they cannot leave the stores empty-handed.

And thus the Oracle of the gods of consumerism was very clear last night: You, too, should join the throngs – Do it NOW!

Our senses of inadequacy and vulnerability have been carefully cultured by a skillful consumer advertising industry and a hypercompetitive society which proclaims to be meritocratic but in fact is largely stacked against the vast majority in favor of the privileged few. Those senses of inadequacy will be pimped this day with a vengeance resulting in a mindless orgy of acquisitiveness.

But it is a drivenness doomed to disappointment. The truth is that there will never be enough material goods in this world, no matter how new, improved or remarkable, to fill the holes in our souls, those places where gratitude for lives of plenty, relationships with the Other(s) and awareness of the good creation we share should rightly reside.

Giving Something of Value

So, why not part company with the herd and do something countercultural this day? Why not celebrate Buy Nothing Day instead?

Why not spend the day mindfully considering the things you might actually need rather than be pimped into confusing needs with wants artificially cultivated by consumerist advertising? Why not consider giving things that actually mean something this year – your time and your undivided attentiveness?  Why not put the damned cellphone away (yes, your addiction really can wait) and be fully present with the Other(s)? Why not give yourself the gift of downtime, time spent alone to sort your thoughts and feelings, time spent outside, becoming newly aware of the natural world that you pass through each day unnoticed which waits patiently to impress you with her wonders?

If you must give material goods to show your affection (and a truly thoughtful gift – as opposed to guilt-driven consumerist purchases – is often appreciated), why not give something you’ve made, grown, created? How much more valuable is a gift that actually embodies your life capital as opposed to the artificial currency in your pocket?

And if you feel you simply cannot spare the time and energy to do that (a real warning sign about both your time management skills and the quality of your life), consider that there are 363 other days a year (minus Black Friday and Christmas Day) to carefully and thoughtfully consider what you wish to buy. 

Corporations may be worried about their bottom line on Black Friday, hoping to meet the insatiable demands of stockholders for ever greater dividends even among profitable companies. But the stock clerks, checkout agents, waiters and management of these establishments work year-round - many of them working without ongoing guarantees of full-time hours and the salaries and benefits that go with them. All of them benefit from your business year-round.  Take the time, money and life energies that you’d spend in an orgy of ruthless hypercompetitiveness on Black Friday and spread it out across the year.

On this day after Thanksgiving, I wish you well. I am grateful for your reading my thoughts and for those of you who will actually consider them. And I close with thoughts from a Buddhist tradition which has long recognized the dangers of materialism and attachment:

May all beings everywhere be happy and free,
and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life
contribute in some way
to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

 - Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu Sanskrit prayer of blessing for the world 

Harry Scott Coverston
Orlando, Florida

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.

Most things worth considering do not come in sound bites.

For what does G-d require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d? (Micah 6:8, Hebrew Scriptures)

 © Harry Coverston 2017


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gratitude: For All Who Have Made Our Lives Possible

On this national holiday in the United States devoted to giving thanks, I offer a series of meditations on gratitude. I begin with a portion of one of my favorite poems from fellow Anglican John Donne:

'No Man is an Island'
No man is an island entire of itself; 
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, 
Europe is the less, 
as well as if a promontory were, 
as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; 
any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
it tolls for thee.

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624)
John Donne

Gratitude - Family of Birth

There is no such thing as self-made men or women. All of us are here because of Others whose gifts to our lives, both positive and negative, helped make us who we are. On this day of gratitude, let us remember our Families of Birth.

They are the ones who gave you your genetic material that started you on your way. The ones who insured you had enough food, clothing, medical care, shelter and security to survive to adulthood.

They are the ones who taught you and modeled many of the values you now call your own. The ones whose imperfections as adults used to seem so huge and obvious until you became an adult and realized that it is precisely those imperfections that help make us human. The ones who held great hopes for our lives, both the unrealized aspirations of their own lives as well as the light they saw glowing in you that needed encouragement and support.

They are the siblings and cousins who shared your journey, the aunts, uncles and grandparents who played starring roles in your life. And now they include your own children in whom the cycle has begun once again.

For whom among your Family of Birth would you give thanks this day of gratitude?

Gratitude – Family of Choice

There is no such thing as self-made men or women. All of us are here because of Others whose gifts to our lives, both positive and negative, helped make us who we are. On this day of gratitude, let us remember our Families of Choice.

They are the ones who shared your life journey through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. They are the ones with whom you shared your deepest secrets, the ones with whom you did the things you were told not to do and prayed you wouldn’t get caught. They are the ones who suddenly came unbidden and unexpected into your life and everything changed in that moment. They are the ones with whom you have studied, worked, played and made love.

They are the ones whose dry, absorbent shoulders you always found awaiting your tears in times of loss and tragedy. They are the ones who have shared that one extra glass of wine with you as well as the pounding hangover the next morning when you celebrated life’s little victories and all were had by a good time. They are the ones who have forgiven you when you did not deserve forgiveness and those to whom you have returned that favor. And they are the ones whose holes in your life can never be filled when they eventually must leave.

For whom among your Family of Choice would you give thanks this day of gratitude? 

Gratitude – Life Companions

There is no such thing as self-made men or women. All of us are here because of Others whose gifts to our lives, both positive and negative, helped make us who we are. On this day of gratitude, let us remember our Life Companions.

To our lovers, soul mates, partners, spouses. To those with whom we waited a lifetime before being able to legally say I do and to those whose vows were exchanged with as little effort as an application, a fee and the repetition of the words at the notary public’s office.

To our children, both the fruit of our own wombs as well as those whom life brought to us to love and changed us forever. To our non-human children, our dogs, cats, horses, and the wide range of living beings who have made our lives worth living and reminded us that love, devotion and compassion transcend the bounds of living species. To the trees that have shaded us, the flowers that have brought us joy, to the gardens we have nurtured and whose care in turn provided the means to nurture our own souls.

For whom among your Life Companions would you give thanks this day of gratitude?

Gratitude – Life Matrix

There is no such thing as self-made men or women. All of us are here because of Others whose gifts to our lives, both positive and negative, helped make us who we are. On this day of gratitude, let us remember all those within the matrix in which our lives have developed.

They are the ones who taught us in our schools, who cared for us when we were ill and set our arms when we broke them. They are the ones who keep our homes and streets safe and who insure that we have lighting and internet. They are the ones who work long hours at menial tasks to insure our toll booths, entertainment outlets, big box stores and fast food outlets are available to us in these lives of privilege we lead.

They are our clergy, counselors, our fire fighters, our farmers. They are our bus and truck drivers, our wait staff at restaurants, our banking staff and our garbage collectors. They are our soldiers and our political leaders, when they actually lead. They are our friends and the neighbors we actually know.

 For whom among those within our shared Life Matrix would you give thanks this day of gratitude?

Gratitude – the Good Creation

There is no such thing as self-made men or women. All of us are here because of Others whose gifts to our lives, both positive and negative, helped make us who we are. On this day of gratitude, let us remember the Good Creation, this fragile Earth our island home.

The parameters of life on this planet are limited and precious. Slight variations in carbon or nitrogen content in our air and most current life forms on this planet would die. It is a bountiful creation, with enough natural resources to feed all living beings on the planet even as some starve because of human greed and collective choices. It is a place of striking beauty from the deserts of the Gobi to the windswept Faroe Islands to the rapidly disappearing rainforests, the lungs of the Earth, along the Amazon. 

Whatever or whoever caused this place to come into being, if anything, is worthy of our deepest gratitude. More importantly, the Creation we call home is worthy of our responsible care that takes into consideration all of its living beings.

How would you show your gratitude this day for the Good Creation we too often take for granted but without which we could not exist?

Gratitude – Conclusion

For all those lives who have touched my life, molding me, encouraging me, weeping because of me, for those who have comforted me, disciplined me, disappointed me, yet loved me despite my worst behaviors and for those whose time with me was all too brief before they had to leave me, I give thanks this day.

For the Good Creation of which I am a part but only a part, I give thanks this day and I pray that I and my fellow human animals will learn to treat you with the respect you are due. And to the G_d whom I experience as the very ground of my being and my constant companion, the G-d from whom all Being arises and to whom all Being returns, I offer my deepest gratitude.  

And now, I invite you to do the same.

Harry Scott Coverston
Orlando, Florida

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.

Most things worth considering do not come in sound bites.

For what does G-d require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d? (Micah 6:8, Hebrew Scriptures)

 © Harry Coverston 2017


Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Hope and Resilience on the Whiffy Express

He got on at the Walmart stop and came to the back of the bus where I sat. He was young, mocha colored skin with one arm nearly completely covered in tattoos. His eyes were that brilliant shade of gold that I have known and loved in a number of black friends and students. His hair stood straight up in twisted spikes. And when he smiled his beautiful teeth lit up his handsome young face. 

After briefly acknowledging him I went back to grading my papers, my pastime on the bus ride home from the college in the afternoons. Rush hour traffic makes the usual hour and five minute trip up to an hour and a half before arriving backing in downtown Orlando. By the time I reach my stop, I have all of my papers graded.

Today’s traffic was fairly typical. I was in no rush.

Dear Lord, What’s That Smell?

At the next stop an elderly black man who was clearly intoxicated stumbled up the aisle to the back of the bus coming to rest in the seat immediately in front of the seat where I sat. I always choose the row of seats which face into the aisle with backs to the windows near the very back of the bus. There is plenty of room there to spread out my papers there when there isn’t much ridership and I can stretch out my aching arthritic knees into the aisle.

Within minutes I began to realize my initially chosen seat was not going to work that day. The elderly man, now snoring, had clearly not had a bath in several days. Worse yet, somewhere along the line he had urinated on himself. 

I am accustomed to workers getting on the bus at the end of the day in need of showers after a long day of manual labor.  I sometimes call that rush hour run The Whiffy Express.

But this was more than the usual worker odor. I leaned into the aisle to see if the air was any more breathable there but I knew quickly that I’d need to move.

I often tell my students that if they have an emergency, don’t ask me, just go on to the bathroom. I’m a sympathetic vomiter on a good day and I fear I’d just add to the pile if someone managed to spew in front of me, fears that go back to my days as a middle school teacher. And I knew the aroma rising from this pathetic, debilitated man was enough to set that response into motion.

I quickly crossed the aisle to the seats now directly in front of the young man. He laughed, his beautiful teeth lighting up his handsome young face.

“I don’t blame you,” he chuckled. “I’d have moved. too.”

I said I felt sorry for the fellow. He was clearly out of it. The young man’s face became very serious. He said that he had known a lot of folks like this guy. “You try to help them, to get them to straighten up and get out of this mess they’re in. But some of them just don’t want to. And they go back to the drinking and drugs. And they end up like this.”

They Came for a New Life

Thereupon began a long conversation that would flow until we reached my stop at the SODO development where I park my car and catch the city bus two days a week.

He told me that his family had moved him out of the Bronx when he was five. They’d moved to nearby Poinciana with little to start a new life. But that new life had to be better than a life fending off or joining the gangs that dominated the streets of their old neighborhood. His Mother now worked at a bank. His father worked as an electrician.

When he asked me what I did (i.e., What’s a professional middle class white man doing riding the city bus with us working class schmoes?) I said I was retired from the university but taught part-time now as an adjunct at Valencia.

His face lit up.

The young man said he was working about 60 hours a week at two different jobs, one a fast food joint, the other a big box store. But he was also taking two classes from Valencia online. “It’s the only way I can do this,” he said. “I’d like to take the classes on campus with everyone else but I have to work.”

I hear this story regularly. Students take classes online for a number of reasons. Some engage in the misguided bottom line philosophy that presumes that since online classes don’t require you to actually come to class, they probably won’t require much else of you. Easy A and three hour credit. 

These are students who often end up feeling betrayed when the class requires more than they’re willing or able to contribute given their time constraints. These are also the folks that most predictably register their discontent on end of term consumer surveys. “Worst class ever.” "Unreasonable demands." “Avoid this teacher at all costs.”

Others take online courses because it relieves them of any obligations to actually deal with other human beings in person. We have raised an entire generation of children whom we allowed technology to babysit with varying degrees of deficiencies in interpersonal skills to show for it. Online classes allow them to escape yet again the difficult but essential task of developing the same.

Then there are those like my conversational companion on the bus. Online classes are less costly in terms of time, obligations to be present and the costs of transportation to and presence at the college. They are often the only avenues to college education available to the working poor. And while they offer at best a truncated educational experience, the credit hours they earn count the same as those in actual live classes.

He spoke of saving enough money to be able to take classes on campus in the future. His wife, who also works at a bank, already is doing so.

On Living While Black

The young man eventually asked me if he could borrow a dollar for bus fare. He said he was headed up to visit his aunt in one of the more dangerous sections of Orlando. I pulled out my wallet and gave him the dollar. Later he’d confess that he actually needed two dollars and only wanted to ask for one. I know the bus fare is $2. So I pulled out my wallet and gave him the other dollar.

My Franciscan sensibility about these encounters is simple: If I have the money and don’t absolutely need it (i.e., for my own bus fare home) and the person I’m encountering seems to need it, I simply give it to them. No questions asked, no conditions. Once the money leaves my hands it’s no longer mine and I have no rights to dictate how it’s used. Conditional gifts are little more than contracts for performance at best, thinly disguised behavioral manipulation at worst.

He asked me what I thought about Donald Trump. I said, “Not much.” I could see the look of relief on his face as he launched into a long diatribe about how Trump was a clown and was endangering the whole world. Apparently the young man has time to catch the news periodically.

The worst part, he said, was that Trump was dividing the country, turning people against one another. I agreed. And I asked if that had impacted him personally.

His face darkened as he responded. “I think every black man in America feels the impact of this,” he said. He told of how he’d been accused of a robbery at a Walmart when he was a juvenile. “I spent 21 days in juvenile before they decided they couldn’t prove the charges,” he said.

Seems the manager of the Walmart offered testimony and the surveillance camera footage from the day of the robbery that clearly showed this young man was not the robber. That didn’t stop the local prosecutor from holding him another week until trial before entering a nolle prosequi notice voluntarily dismissing the case.  

I shook my head. I remembered far too many cases like that from my days as a public defender. It was an abuse of the law and smacked of racism. But it was common. And, ultimately, it would be one of many reasons I’d leave the practice of law. I simply didn’t want to help enable that system to continue anymore. And said as much.

All the Time in the World, All the Patience of Job

It’s a little over an hour ride from the college to my destination at the SODO development where I park my car. I park there because there is a shelter to sit under while waiting for the morning bus and the afternoon bus stops within 100 feet of a traffic light that allows me to cross busy Orange Avenue. The parking garage is designed for patrons of the SODO development and between its restaurants and the Target store there, I have been a regular patron there. I feel no hesitation about parking in the covered garage to catch the bus.

But this day, the hour had flown by. This was an amazing young man, a study in determination in the face of forces beyond his control which would have readily derailed most lives that encountered them. He spoke of his dreams of finishing his degree, of working at a job that would pay him a decent wage and allow him a modicum of self-respect. Most of all, he spoke of his desires to provide a good life for the children he desired to bring into the world, “once I’ve got the job and house down,” he said.

In my life as a teacher, this is the kind of kid I have always taught for. I have all the patience of Job and all the time in the world for people who want to work hard to make it in life and just need someone to help them along the way.

A mere two stops from my destination, he asked if he could use my cell phone. He probably misread my hesitation at that point. I was happy to let him use the phone and when he handed it back to me for the password, gladly provided it. The problem was I was getting off two stops later.

“Make it quick,” I said.

He did. And then moved to another seat. He turned and waved as I bounded off the bus at the Grant Street stop.

I pray that this man will be able to make a good life for himself and his family. I believe that he will, given the determination, resourcefulness and will power I saw on the bus that afternoon.

There are a lot of young people like this man in our society. His entire generation is struggling to make lives that we in previous generations took for granted. We have not made it easy for them at all. We would do well to encourage them, to do what we can to help them along their way and then to demand of them that they perform at the level of the ability at which they have evidenced capacity to perform.

Truth be told, we need this young man. We have no lives to spare. We need him to be healthy, educated and productive. We need him to offer the gifts that only he can.

Hillary Clinton got this one right. We are ALL better together. We need everyone.

Every. Single. One.

Harry Scott Coverston
Orlando, Florida

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.

Most things worth considering do not come in sound bites.

For what does G-d require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d? (Micah 6:8, Hebrew Scriptures)

 © Harry Coverston 2017