Anne Frank, “Half-Pint,” and the Kind of Grandparent I Want To Be One Day

On one of my many trips to our nation’s capital, I bought a book about Anne Frank for my daughter; Claire was about 10 at the time.  I remember learning about Anne Frank, not really in school exactly, but from reading a Scholastic magazine with an excerpt of the script from the 1980 Melissa Gilbert movie based on Anne Frank’s diary.  I was compelled by her story then, probably more because I loved Melissa Gilbert and it was fascinating to see her in something besides her prairie dress.

Over the years, as I matured past my devotion to “Half-Pint,” I began to understand the wonder of Anne Frank’s story.  It wasn’t until I became a teacher that her words truly impacted me.  That is when I actually read her diary in full.  To be in her situation and to be able to still believe as she wrote that people were still good just filled me with such wonder. 

Last night, I met with a group of women.  We ate snacks, talked about our families, and talked about the future.  While talking, we all took pen to paper and wrote to our Senators and Congressional Representatives.  We wrote to members of both parties.  Each person there wrote their own messages.  I tried to take an encouraging tone.  I do appreciate the work that those working in government do on behalf of the people, and I believe wholeheartedly that most do it for the right reasons, even though I might not agree with all of their policies.  It was nice to feel like I was taking action in the wake of recent circumstances, when my belief that the people who are in the highest office maybe aren’t in it for the right reasons.

While we were writing, one of the women said that she wanted to say to our leaders, “What do you want your grandchildren to think about the decisions that you make when they study this time period in school?”  I found that prolific. 

And that brings me back to Anne Frank and my daughter.  When she read the book, I didn’t think to warn her about the ending.  I’ll never forget holding her when she realized Anne had died.  That night I remember wondering if I would have been brave enough to be Miep Gies.  Would I have been brave enough to risk everything to save someone else even if it was the right thing to do?  Would I have landed myself on the right side of history?

I want to think I would have.  That’s why I’m speaking out now. 

I have another friend.  A wonderful, loving, well-educated friend post a Facebook message about Liberals needing to give the new President a chance.  I don’t think it’s just the liberals who have a problem with what is happening.  I don’t consider Senator Graham of South Carolina a liberal.  I don’t consider Senator McCain of Arizona a liberal.  Former Secretary Condoleeza Rice is not a liberal. 

This is not about liberals.  It’s not about conservatives.  It’s about being on the right side of history.  Unfortunately, most issues are complex.  If they were simple, so many people wouldn’t be so upset.  I have friends on both sides of most of the issues facing our country today.  I wouldn’t call a person a friend if I didn’t respect that at his/her core was a value of caring about others and strong integrity. 

So as I close, I am thinking about what kind of grandparent I’m going to be.  When my grandchildren who have yet to be born [and hopefully that is years and years away], look back on this period of time and ask me how I responded to the politics of 2017, what will my answer be? 

Life is a Cabaret – Seriously, It Is!

I went to see Cabaret last night.  I was excited and giddy, not just about the show, but honestly to get away from the political atmosphere for a bit.  I must confess that I had never seen the movie or show before, but as a dance mom, I feel like I know the soundtrack by heart so I was looking forward to a wild, racy time at the theater.

I was wrong.

I was made to think.

It was interesting that a show that in many ways was about social freedoms being slowly taken away would be playing in my town this weekend.   As the character Herr Schultz, the Jewish Fruit vendor, kept proclaiming that he was German and this Nazism would pass, I kept thinking about our current political climate.  How many people are thinking, this will pass…it’s just politics…nothing will happen.

And, of course, there were the songs.  “Money, makes the world go around…A mark, a yen, or buck, or a pound…is all that makes the world go around,” I know it’s cynical, but how on target are those lyrics?

The end of the show was so unnerving that I truly had a hard time sleeping.  I loved the show; it just upset me.  Stories of that nature do. 

So this morning, as my usual, on the way to work I listened to Morning Joe.  I love this program because I think they try really hard to present a balance viewpoint and offer a healthy political debate.  As the hot topic was the border closing, it wasn’t going to get my mind off of Cabaret  and it’s chilling prelude to the Holocaust. The guest on my way in to work was Sean Spicer, and he offered and explanation about the border closing this weekend.  He said [and I’m simplifying this statement] that if inconveniencing 109 travelers meant keeping just one American safe then it was worth it. On the surface that is reasonable.  However, there is a problem with this argument. 

Most of the terrorist attacks committed on US soil have been committed by US citizens, the exception is the Ohio State incident last fall, which was committed by an immigrant.   If our new administration REALLY wants to protect Americans and keep Americans safe, then I would suggest they look into what has caused 120 times more American deaths than terrorism on American soil and that is firearms.  Seriously, look at the chart below.  I am not making this up.  This is not fake news.  I am all for our constitutional rights and all for the second amendment, but I think our founding fathers would agree that some restrictions are necessary when it comes to keeping our citizens safe.  If a license is needed to drive a car, then why not to own a gun?  I know the arguments already [the criminals will have them anyway …blah, blah, blah].  Well, people drive cars without a license and then they have to face a consequence.  The same could happen with guns.  I’m just saying, if this whole issue of closing our boarders is about making our country safer, I think maybe our leaders and their followers should take a closer look on the inside before being so judgmental about what is on the outside.

I think it’s time for those of us who are reasonable, those of us who can compromise and who are normally quiet to start asserting ourselves into the conversation.  The majority of us, I think, probably feel like neither political party completely represents our views in whole and just vote for the who we think will do the least amount of damage.  I think we deserve more. 

In the meantime, I’ll close with another thought from Cabaret:

“What good’s permitting some prophet of doom?

To wipe every smile away

Life is a cabaret, old chum!

So come to the cabaret!”

What is our Cabaret going to be?screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-2-36-55-pm