To The Daily Sun,
Ironic, that my same mail delivering me my Granny D. letter cut from the newspaper, with the words printed on it — “Give it up! Let her rest in peace! Sick of it!” also had in it a postcard from friends with the Pastor Niemoeller quote on it, about Nazi victimization. The quote begins, “First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.” This card had printed on it thanks for speaking out when I do.
It makes me think of others whose words live on beyond their mortal lives. Abraham Lincoln urged that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Wow! I am awed by this document, one I memorized as part of seventh-grade social studies.
In 1983, then 11-year-old Samantha Smith of Maine wrote to President Gorbachev, making a peace proposal because nuclear war seemed imminent. She ended her letter, “God made the world for us to live in peace together and not to fight.” She died two years later in a plane crash. Good to recall her effort, her words.
In 1987 Ben Linder, an American murdered in Nicaragua by the Contras while doing an electrification project and living to make local lives better, copied into his journal these words of an 1800s rabbi: "When justice burns within us like a flaming fire, when love evokes willing sacrifice from us, when, to the last full measure of selfless devotion, we demonstrate our belief in the ultimate triumph of truth and righteousness, then your goodness enters into our lives; then you live within our hearts, and we through righteousness behold your presence.” I think the rabbi that Linder quotes is talking about God, that “your...”
My grandson was born in March 2003. Just days before, while I was in D.C. for his birth and reading The Washington Post, I saw a photo of Rachel Corrie, activist for Palestinian rights, who, trying to block bulldozing of Palestinian homes by Israeli forces, was run over and crushed. I keep a photo of her on my kitchen wall.
She wrote this in January 2003: “We are all born and someday we’ll all die. Most likely to some degree alone. What if our aloneness isn’t a tragedy? What if our aloneness is what allows us to speak the truth without being afraid? What if our aloneness is what allows us to adventure — to experience the world as a dynamic presence — as a changeable, interactive thing?” Rachel was only 24.
Granny D., rather than “rest in peace” now, would certainly continue speaking up about the warping that huge campaign contributions cause. Her voice may be stilled, but her fervor lives on in the work of others, and let me name N.H. Rebellion here, also Americans for Campaign Finance Reform. “Democracy is not something we have; it’s something we do,” she often said. Thanks for Granny D. speaking out and living among us when she did — and getting to be 100.
Lynn Rudmin Chong
- Written by Mike Mortensen
- Category: Letters
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