Teri Orr: This was the week that was
We saw Mars and Venus and a bunch of planetary shifts, line up so fast and shine so bright, in one single week, it was dizzying. And an old, slimy dull green, sharp, pointy, sadly lost, mean-spirited dragon/prehistoric flying bird/creepy imaginary creature was still trying to spit flames and having very, very, very little success.
Good news was in such abundance this past week it was difficult to catalogue.
Episcopalians, meeting in Salt Lake City, declared their clergy is universally allowed to marry all couples of all gender preferences. It followed on the heels of the historic decision by the United States Supreme Court that all couples have the right to marriage.
Love is love, we watched celebrated, openly, in every state. It is the law to recognize and uphold those beliefs now. The law that all people may marry and have all the legal benefits due them.
The rainbow-colored tsunami of celebration and announcement came the same day our President delivered a eulogy to his friend and slain pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, Clementa Pinckney. There have been comparisons, in a great article in the recent issue of The New Yorker, to Lincoln’s second inaugural address. He delivered it after the Emancipation Declaration had been signed. After the Confederate had been defeated. After he had been re-elected. He did not gloat about those wins and instead tried to set a healing tone for the country. One country. United, states.
For Obama this week, it was a defining moment for the man who was once a stuffy University of Chicago law professor. Turns out, he has the soul of a black preacher, and the cadence in his delivery to inspire and illuminate his audience/congregation. And when he sang, maybe a bit out of key, it didn’t matter. He sang with his heart and soul. And the Rev. Pinckney and those other worshippers who were murdered with him, had the send-off they deserved to lead them home with glory, and, with grace.
New York state banned fracking the same week Rolling Stone ran a story with the headline, "What’s killing the babies of Vernal, Utah?" and it points to the fracking efforts in that community. It examines the brave work of Donna Young, a midwife in that small (less than 10,000) community. Think around Park City size, where the percentage of stillborn babies and miscarriages is abnormally high. Speaking truth to power, this loving woman, mother, grandmother has been threatened with her very life. She is packing a pistol these days on her ranch.
Misty Copeland, the black ballerina who didn’t start dancing until she was 13 at a Boys and Girls Club after school and was told her body shape wasn’t right for ballet, became the first black principal ballerina in the 75-year history of the American Ballet Theater Co. in New York. She is 32 years old, which, as anyone who follows elite athletes knows, is old for that kind of body abuse. She is beautiful and proud and an inspiration for young people who dream of pirouetting out of their circumstances and being someone at the tippy-toed top of their field.
The Good Pope Francis stated this past week that divorce could be "morally necessary" to protect children. And by extension, we could conclude, also their mothers. This guy just keeps shattering centuries-old doctrine that was created by men who wanted to create rules that served their own power perhaps, but did not serve a loving god.
And speaking of men and gods, Robert Redford will be delivering a speech on Monday to the UN about climate change and he already said he agrees with the pope and we have a moral imperative to act. Now. To save our planet. And each other.
NBC dropped racist-hater-crazy man and presidential candidate Donald Trump, from all his shows. And Macy’s is tossing his clothing line out. The Donald is currently experiencing a personal brown out.
And I became a Swiftie. Taylor Swift sent an open letter to Apple chiding them for proposing to give customers three months of free music to test its new music service. She said, in essence, to Apple, we don’t ask you for free phones, please don’t ask us for free music. And bingo, 17 hours later, it reversed its position.
Though I usually think the word "shero" sounds entirely too contrived, it works for Bree Newsome, a black woman who took justice upon herself and climbed up a flagpole outside the capitol in South Carolina and just took down the confederate flag. Then she was arrested and jailed. Bree was ready for the consequences of her actions. And we were ready to applaud her courage. And immediately raised more than $100,000, online, for her release.
It’s easy to get giddy with all the reason taking place. All the kindness and fairness and grace. Easy to try and not see the seven black churches burned down this week in the South. Easy to ignore the states and cities who say the Supreme Court ruling can be ignored and they will deny marriage rights to anyone. Easy to forget that fracking is happening all over this state (and country) and we have no real idea of the longterm horrific consequences of those actions.
The momentum afoot from reasonable people encourages us, makes us temporarily delirious and fills the air with the sweet perfume of hope. But lurking with a match in hand, is the monster who refuses to die. Who, the closer we get to being loving kindness in human form, is incensed by such actions and thoughts. And just like any dying fire, if you poke a stick in it, there will still be a burst of flame and color and smoke. The beast will die in its own time, which we wish to be now but its prehistoric squawking, giant wing-flapping, hateful hate-filled shrill sounds reminds us: Ugly takes time to die.
What we can do is celebrate a birthday our country’s. An America both right and wrong and filled with struggles that exist to challenge us to find, as Lincoln once said, "the better nature of our angels," every day, even this very Sunday in the Park.
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the organization that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.