A Plea for Peace and Common Sense

vote, peace, election, America, Democracy, patrioticI have a few requests for you all…

1. Please, PLEASE VOTE. Don’t think that your vote doesn’t matter, because if it was going to matter in any election, it does now. I am not going to tell you who to vote for, but please just do it. Need a ride? Find a friend to give you one, search your area for one of the free services giving voters rides to the polls. Whatever you need to do, just vote.
2. Regardless of the outcome of the election, PLEASE HONOR THE RESULTS. This is a democracy. Whatever you think about how this election process works, it’s how it has evolved over the life of our country. It’s messed up, I know, but it’s ours. Honor the results. Your fellow Americans will have voiced their opinions and we all live in this country together.
3. If you’re not happy with the results of the election, PEACEFULLY PROTEST – if you must. Put the political wheels in motion to change things going forward. DO NOT RESORT TO VIOLENCE.. No riots. No torches and pitchforks. Grit your teeth, move forward, and figure out what YOU can do to change things going forward. 
4. BE KIND. Please don’t let the hate, misogyny, racism, and overall ugliness that has pervaded this election to become the new norm for America. While it would be really awesome if we all loved one another, I’d settle for some tolerance and kindness.
5.  SPREAD THE WORD. Encourage your friends, families, coworkers, or neighbors to honor the election process, to honor the rights of their fellow citizens, and to react with common sense, peace and civility to the results of this election. Do not let our country go down in flames over two people. You can help make America positive again.

In Memorial: Of Life and Death

Maybe it’s because I turned 40 this last year, or maybe it’s because I find myself far from the familiar observances of Memorial Day and the cemeteries that hold my family’s history, but today I found myself particularly compelled to appreciate those past. So after a few failed attempts to do some productive work, I took myself on a little side trip to a place I had been meaning to explore for more than two years.

overlooking the garden cemetery - Bangor, ME

Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor, ME

The Mt.Hope Cemetery in Bangor turned 175 years old in 2009, and is America’s second garden cemetery, encompassing approximately 300 acres. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in August, 1974. The garden cemetery concept reflects the rural cemetery movement that began in Massachusetts in 1831. Before then, according to Mt. Hope’s website, “urban cemeteries had been in the midst of towns and cities and were often crowded and virtually grassless. With increasing urbanization, city dwellers began to be concerned about the need for natural beauty. A romantic type landscape was sought as a counterbalance to the disturbing aspects of the city landscape.”

a lone headstone with a beautiful view, Mt. Hope Cemetery, ME

A lone headstone overlooking the garden cemetery

The Mt. Hope Cemeteryand prior to that, the Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA, sought to create a landscape that was consciously designed for the living as well as the dead. Having driven past it for two years and lived near it for a few months, I had come to respect this vision, because the cemetery truly is beautiful, in any season.

It was here that I decided to honor the memory of those who went before us. In this time of war and conflict, we honor the soldiers who have served our country and often paid the ultimate sacrifice for the ground that we stand on today. We honor our fathers and grandfathers who fought for our freedom and came home to raise families and build the America we live in today.

Young - Headstone at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor

A familiar name amongst the stones...

I went to Mt. Hope Cemeterywith the desire to honor them, to remember my grandfathers and to reflect on a bit of the past. As I wandered just a fraction of the history in this garden of life and death, I was struck by a whole lot more. I considered the lives of the more than 30,000 individuals laid to rest in those acres. People remembered, people forgotten; headstones honoring mothers, fathers, grandparents and children, some shiny and new, some crumbling with age. Many of them people who maybe died wondering what they really contributed to the world.

Sarah - headstone at Mt. Hope Cemetery, ME

Sarah's simple, yet beautiful, stone

I thought about the monument that simply said “My Husband” and wondered about the life of the person who placed it there. I wondered at the simple slabs and the elaborate monuments; were they signs of fortune, or the lack thereof? There are carefully enclosed and tended lots dedicated to an entire family alongside the lone marker of a solitary individual.

I wax a bit melancholy, perhaps, but the thing that I walked away with today is the idea that each one of those 30,000 individuals contributed in some way to the world as we know it today. Call it the butterfly effect, maybe, or six degrees of separation. But, each one of those people was a parent, a child, a teacher, a friend.

fallen headstone, Mt. Hope Cemetery, ME

Fallen, but not gone

They may have simply said an encouraging word to someone they passed on the street. That person may have then had the courage to make a positive change in their life, pass on the kind word or continue what they worried was an unwinnable fight. They might be someone who simple did they best they could to raise a child, who in turn did the best they could to raise a child and onward until their great, great-grandchild developed a life saving medical procedure or fought for the rights of those less fortunate.

And so, the lesson I share with all of you on this day of memories is to honor all of our ancestors, cherish those who gave their lives for us, love the ones you’re with and have faith that the life you are leading has purpose. Allow yourself a little smile as you think about what wonders your family members, or the lives you’ve touched, will be a part of 175 years from now…