It seems improbable that the year the movie, we believe will be an award-winner Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks as America's best friend, Mr. Rogers AND the Impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives would be what we are once again watching together. On a bigger screen of course at the Center Theater in Vinita and our home TV 8 times bigger than that old black and white portable.
It was not that long ago, but here we are again. That familiar question of Mr. Rogers' "Won't you be my neighbor?" is still remembered by the tune the words conjure.
Always be kind. Those words echo in the Miami community as words and a way of life Angie Douthitt lived each day. People loved her immediately. Angie engaged and shined on you. But one day she asked me a question and I fear the answer. She wondered if her love of running, when running a route by BF Goodrich could have exposed her as she breathed deeply near the plant. I have to say yes. Why wouldn't it? for 5 years piles of the rubble we know were loaded with friable asbestos could have been exposing the public. As soon as EPA discovered this they have been here removing it.
I believe she is a casualty and I fear there will be more. Who caused this? A Rush for Greed and a hasty bankruptcy.
BFG never became a superfund site, but superfund is there now. If the community decided they wanted, no if they demanded real action to occur on the site, and ask for a complete cleanup and a real evaluation of the safety of the neighborhood, while superfund is still here we might get it.
What I know is silent citizens hopes for justice will not get justice. Only more casualties.
I go home everyday to a piece of the prairie, clean air, clean water. No fear for toxins in my garden or the wild plums, the rose hips. I want that for the citizens only 25 miles away. And for the life of me, I can not understand why it is not demanded as a right, a human right at every council meeting, county commissioner meeting, MAEDS meeting, Rotary, Lions and the Masons, much less the women's groups and every teacher in the county. It is not wrong or outrageous to want justice.
We have had role models, and we got them again when Angie became one for us. She and Mr. Rogers right now are reminding us to take the time to listen and be with who you are with. The moments we have on this earth are numbered and each one precious. It is always possible to be kind. It takes more time, but what on earth have we been given but time, and their lessons show us how best to use it.
I apologize to all the marvelous people who got tapped on the shoulder during Miami's Christmas Parade and thank the dozens who signed postcards along with citizens all over the country who spoke up for us. We had hopes this "be kind stuff" might be contagious. We flooded the mail center at the capitol with cards with hopes for leniency from our senator, to reconsider and pull his amendment. The City of Miami fought hard on this but the wording is much the same as it had been and the lawyers will have to explain it to us, but overall, it doesn't seem like kindness won this one.
My friend Jim Shine, worked with LEAD Agency as a researcher from Harvard a decade ago, occasionally would quote his favorite poet Mary Oliver and was aghast when I had never heard of her, sent 3 volumes to begin catching me up. The poem that summed me up after our campaign to encourage Senator Inhofe to remove the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act is called,
"I Worried" and begins with:
"I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall I correct it?
"Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning and sang."
I didn't sing today, but went out to our office porch to watch Academy students and Marla Stidham, their Alternative Teacher of the Year, cross the street to help us sort seeds and fill packets for the seed library. The room filled with the delightful aroma of basil as we processed and sorted our dried collection and ate our version of Butterfinger candy we had made in the kitchen from equal portions of peanut butter and candy corn, heated gently and spread out to cool.
Submitted Kindly with Respect ~ Rebecca Jim