Webster’s Everyday Thesaurus has these words for impasse:
deadlock, stalemate, blind alley, bottleneck…dead end, dilemma, predicament, quandary, standstill, standoff.
This past week I had a heavy dose of impasse which intermingled with my increasing preoccupation about the American Civil War. I look more and more frequently at the map of the red states and blue states that make up our United States and wonder anew at Abraham Lincoln’s commitment to keep the country united as one. I understand the problem better for sure. I always wondered how brother fought brother on different sides during the Civil War. They were family first after all, right? Not so fast, my friend.
The American people are a “duke’s mixture” to quote my granddaddy who used the words for his Saturday barbershop customers in the 1950s when my grandmother asked him who’d stopped by the barber shop that day.
George, who all came by for a haircut today?
Well, Betha, it was a duke’s mixture.
To which she would shake her head and look at me and ask, What does that tell you? Duke’s mixture.
My granddaddy would laugh as if he’d told a funny joke, and I would laugh with him. My grandmother never cracked a smile.
Today I find myself not laughing, either. Rarely cracking a smile at the impasse among the citizens in our country which must surely have my grandparents spinning in their graves. My grandmother invented social media via the telephone party line we had in our little town as surely as Al Gore invented the internet. She relished listening in on other people’s conversations and delighted to repeat juicy gossip at her kitchen table… but please dear God, don’t ever mess with her family.
This week I did something I almost never do. I responded on Facebook to a post made by a first cousin twice removed who has a world view that I have long ago accepted as different from mine. Most of the time I hide his offensive posts from my timeline and move on.
I can’t bring myself to “un-friend” him because I truly love the little boy I remember visiting us in Richards so often with his grandmother who was my grandmother’s sister. But this week he posted that liberals must have a “mental illness” to think the way we do, and that struck a nerve for me.
You see, I grew up during a time when being a homosexual was considered to be a mental illness. Think about how you would feel if you grew up believing that you had a secret mental illness and, if exposed, you could be institutionalized. Lock her up. Throw away the key. I heard an old tape begin to play in my mind.
Somehow our thread on Facebook took an unpleasant turn, as I already knew it would and we got into a discussion regarding a prevailing Muslim belief in some places that gays should be killed. Unfortunately, one of my cousin’s friends chimed in with the following comment: “We knew someone many years ago that would probably want to buy a plane today, load them (gays and lesbians) up and drop them off over there (wherever Muslims live). I sure miss him.”
Wow. I was transported to a conversation I had in the early 1990s with a client who sat in my office and said, “If it were up to me, I’d take all those queers and put them behind barbed wire in Kansas and tell them to stay there.” I didn’t respond then. The old tape was playing louder now.
One of my mother’s most infamous quotes for me was that she wished all those gays would go back in the closet where they belonged. She would be happy to slam the door shut. The old tape was so loud now I could barely hear myself think.
Luckily, I didn’t accept the old tapes as I don’t accept my cousin or his friend’s thinking about who I am today. I’ve spent my entire adult life working for equal treatment and fairness – my liberal social justice beliefs.
In 1974 the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. I was 28 years old. In 2017 at the age of 71, I am personally declassifying liberalism as a mental illness.
I resolve to limit my social media interaction with my first cousin twice removed to Happy Birthday wishes. No need going up that blind alley again.
I feel better already.