Friday, October 17, 2014

At 95

I went to a presentation at noon today by an old friend, author Julie Berry. She has a fun new novel out, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place (see entertaining trailer below).

After the presentation was over, I noticed Judge Monroe and Shirley Paxman, both 95 years old, sitting near the front. I've known them for years! Not only did they often come to events at our bookshop, Judge Paxman was one of my college professors.

I had to go over and talk to them. We walked out of the auditorium together, they with their walking sticks, me with my delight at seeing them still so curious and engaged with the community.

After reminding Judge Paxman that I had taken a course in criminal justice from him more than 30 years ago (he was in his 60s then!), I told him how pivotal taking that class had been for me. I had been thinking I'd like to go into the field to help people caught up in the criminal justice system to work their way out.

But taking that class made me realize just how naive I was. "I'd have believed anything they told me," I said. And then I happily reported to him that after many years of pursuing other goals, I was now working at the county jail, helping people caught up in the criminal justice system to work their way out.

I am less naive now. Imagine how wide open my eyes will be if I make it to 95. Especially if I stay as curious and engaged as the Paxmans have.

Also, I'm curious if anyone in Julie's new book ends up in jail. I'm looking forward to reading it!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Making a Statement

This morning I woke up to two pieces of news:

(1) The US Supreme Court has held up multiple lower court rulings that struck down state laws against same-sex marriage.

And (2) a good hearted young man--whom I first met when he was a TA in our high school library the year I worked there, who came out as a gay man a few years ago, and who suffered debilitating depression--took his own life a few nights ago.

Here is my vote and my prayer: that we can ALL figure out a way forward in love, not fear. In our society, we talk so much about freedom, including freedom of conscience, and our right to pursue our individual journeys through life. Let's mean it all around.

Because that statement is deliberately ambiguous (I truly do mean all), I also feel a need to be clear about a couple of things in case anyone wonders where I personally stand:

(1) A dozen years ago, I voted against the Utah constitutional amendment that was at issue in one of the cases that went to the Supreme Court. I would vote against it again today. I am celebrating today's decision.

And (2) I am ever hopeful that the increased funding for research and coverage for mental health care mandated by the ACA will make a huge difference for many individuals and families, and ultimately for society as a whole - I meet far too many people, for example, who end up being funneled through the criminal justice system because we haven't yet figured out a better way. We need to for the sake of our humanity.