Saturday, May 05, 2012

Chen Guangcheng and the Centered People Who Help Me

 Attorney, journalist and abortion foe Christine Flowers writes a powerful piece about Chinese hero Chen Guangcheng . . .after I shoot my flannel-mouth off.

I spend my days with very centered people:  the old homeostasis, 98.6, the Golden Mean, the Nicomachean Ethics and all that jazz.   What gives us our center? Gravity, the laws of physics, push-me-pull you, experience, judgement, understanding working in harmony, a good breakfast, a light lunch and a sensible dinner followed by a nice trot, or amble, the dial set at the center and a good 7-8 hours of shut-eye for the absolute basics. Beyond the fundamental needs and realities, spirited centered people give us our balance.

Yesterday, as is my routine, I prayed ( Memorare & Novena to the Little Flower, stretched my once nimble and heroically chiseled muscles, corded sinews and toned epidermis in what passes for exercise, performed my morning ablutions ( Sh,Sh & Sh'd) donned day-task appropriate but elegant and raffish attire, looked in on my three sleeping off-spring, read, wrote and got out into God's glorious world.  I smoked the first of my daily five Marlboro (red) Regulars and scanned the swiftly Easterly exiting cloud masses of the departing warm front, pitched the butt into the alley storm sewer and mounted my Malibu for the visit to Karim's Dunkin Donuts at 104th & Western Aveneue.

Dunkin Donuts has been my venue for coffee these last months as a once convivial and lively morning Salon has evaporated.  Many of my Kean Gas Coffee Colleagues have retired, emptied the nest and moved to the south Loop.  Dunkin Donuts offers a far, far tastier 20 ounces of coffee and is well worth the price doubling.  Karim is a native Moroccan gentleman who with his third shift bride works seven day a week.  Karim is the American work ethic writ large. Dunkin Donuts is situated just east of the CTA/PACE bus stop 49A/349.

I arrive shortly after Karim opens and purchase an extra-large coffee and cream that will go with me to Leo, a small of the same that I will savor on the spot and strawberry frosted donut for my lady friend Cameron.  I drive Cameron's mother to the CTA terminal at 79th & Western. Cameron's mom, Kim, is a lovely thirty-something African American single mom who takes two to three buses to and from work at Illinois Medical Center, where Kim works the food service. Cameron is in third grade at Kellog CPS and waits the beginning of her school day at Small Stride Academy in the company of Lois, an African American woman known to the DD crowd as Lou. Lou shepherds Cameron, while Kim public transports herself to and from work.  I noticed Kim waiting for the bus during Chicago's most inclement of weather some time ago. There is no shelter from rain, snow, ice and wind at 104th Street and the PACE bus is all too often train delayed in Blue Island. I offered my services.

Kim and Cameron arrive shortly after Lou and I have discussed the goings-on of the day prior, current and to be.  We are always joined by two retired African American Streets and San workers, Bill and Al, Sgt. Pallasch of District 22 CPD, an shift-determined number of cops and fireman, a pretty nurse at Christ Advocate, a math teacher who travels to Barrington each morning, and Terry Cox, a Manchester born Irish American plumber with a gorgeous wife and  three little  boys.

Cameron is dressed each and every morning like she had an afternoon casting call for a new Disney series.  Cameron is obviously very well loved, nurtured, fed, corrected, supported and schooled. Kim works for salary that is more than likely just a above minimum wage and rents in Beverly just west of Vincennes Ave.  Kim has an older daughter attending Morgan Park High School as well. Kim cares for her children and provides a nice home and a decent education for the girls on a very modest salary.  Kim balances time and budget.  She is saving to buy a car.

I drive Kim to 79th & Western each weekday morning and watch her cross that very busy intersection and humble myself solid.  That is a heroic woman.

Yesterday, I opened Leo High School at 79th & Sangamon, while Kim rode the CTA to work and disappeared from day, and welcomed the two women who work our cafeteria a half hour later- Hi, Ladies!  " Hi, Hickey, it's Friday, Praise Jesus!  Seniors got Prom."  They are Kim.

I work on my stuff -grant research, Vanguard estate forms, in-house memos, Alumni e-mails and invitations to an upcoming visit by Cardinal George on May 11th.

Leo's volume increases with each and every young man, teacher, and staff member adding to the centered activities. A football coach from South Dakota State University asks me about one of our juniors, " Can he handle going out of state?"

This kid is seventeen years old, Hollywood Handsome, 6'4" of sculpted scholar/athlete and three letter man annually.

This kid was raised by a single mom and squad of Aunts, raised his reading abilities from the public school 5th grade level in his freshman year, avoided the GDs, Vice Lords, Stones, 4 Corner Hustlers and other affiliated losers like I do hard work, lifts twice his weight every day at every station in weight room, is courtly with all women and respectful of slower, goofier and less athletic schoolmates and maintains a 3.1 GPA; yeah, I think he might do fine.

My President, the best prose writer alive, Dan McGrath and I have a 2:30 P.M. appointment with Mr. Matt Simon of the Helen V. Brach Foundation at 55 West Wacker.  Dan directed me to take invitations to Cardinal's Visit over to the 6th ( Gresham) CPD District at 77th & Halsted and another to CFD House 129 (Truck 50) at 81st & Ashland - these Chicago heroes are a huge part of Leo High School. Every morning CPD Gresham watch that Leo students arrive safely and also notice if one or two of our lads might decide to lunch al fresco at Subway, or JJJ Fish on Halsted during the school day. CFD teams visit when alarms go off accidentally, or ante-examinationally and care for kids who get hurt in gym classes, or being adolescent males with too much sugar.  I did and returned to Leo.

At 1:30 P.M.,  Dan and I drove downtown to the Brach Foundation.  We met with Matt Simon, President of the charity and reported on our progress for a good hour. Matt gave Leo a check for $ 25,000 that will assist Leo men get a quality Catholic education.  Most young Leo men are not Catholic, in fact more than a few are devout Nation of Islam pilgrims. One of the most centered of graduating seniors is young man by the name of Hakim - blessed with two parents, a deep religious faith and  a powerful work ethic. Hakim will part Leo High School with a full scholarship to University of Central Michigan.

When we got back, Dan went to St. Laurence HS to watch our track team compete for the Catholic League Championship and then he would stop by the senior prom.  I had family stuff to do. My youngest is going to prom tonight.

These activities with centered people are what the gift of life is all about.  I am blessed.  I often do not live up to those blessings and others suffer.  I try.  BFD.  Others do and that is what keeps me in awe of Life.  This past week I wrote about Chen Guangcheng and his fight against forced abortions and horrific government-centered point of view that I fear is becoming much too strong in America.

If I have not bored a hole through you, my friend, Christine Flowers, a Philadelphia attorney, journalist and fearless abortion foe, wrote this today  ( full text with my own emphases).

There is a man in China who is blind, but who sees with a clarity that shames so many 'sighted' Americans.  His name is Chen Guangcheng, and he's a self-taught lawyer who has waged a courageous battle against his country's 'one-child' policy.
That policy, which violates every principle of human dignity recognized by the civilized world (to which China does not belong) forces Chinese women to abort any child after their firstborn, doing what some in this country feel is justified:  controlling the population in order to conserve our precious and limited natural resources.
The fact that the most precious natural resource we have is our children is irrelevant, or at most annoying, to those who believe that abortion is a fundamental right.
Vice President Joe Biden once indicated that he 'understood' the one-child policy.  That was an amazingly tone deaf comment, even for this sad son of Delaware.
Most reasonable people understand that forcing a woman to sacrifice her fertility to the utilitarian desires of an oppressive and evil regime is grounds for rebellion, revolution and in the case of Chen Guangcheng, a grant of political asylum.
Hillary Clinton and our State Department *are straddling a tightrope between what is right, and what is politically expedient.  They have not confirmed that this Chinese hero will be granted refuge in a country that says it cares about the rights of women.
And how do we know that it cares about women's rights?  
Well, our President took great pains to defend the honor of a well-heeled Georgetown Law Student named Sandra Fluck was who was called a mean name by a radio host.  He telephoned her personally to make sure that the lady who described subsidized birth control as a 'fundamental right' could buy that IUD or those monthly pills with her head held high. 
It's so good to know that this country puts such a high premium on the egos of women who don't want to pay for their own birth control. 
It would be better to know that it cares even more about a man who has sacrificed his life, his safety and his family's future so that unborn women can be free from the bonds of tyranny.
 Christine Flowers is very centered person and I am proud to know her.  Her words mirror what I experience from centered people every day, what judge to be the human qualities that defend and glorify the life we share and understand the obligations to maintain centered focus on first principles.
Christine Flowers, Chen Guangcheng, Karim, Cameron, Lou, Sgt. Pallasch, Terry Cox, the Leo Family, Dan McGrath, and the cops and fireman who keep a watchful eye on their precious lives center me.

Thank you all.

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*The celebrated deal that would have ensured that blind dissident Chen Guangcheng would stay in China began to dissolve publicly with a tweet: “GUANGCHENG TALKED TO ME. WHAT MEDIA REPORTED IS WRONG.”
The unsettling Twitter message from Beijing activist Zeng Jinyan began a firestorm of debate over whether Chen had been coerced into the deal with threats to his family, an alarming idea that gutted the most important promise behind the agreement -- that Chen would be kept safe.
Zeng also said Chen really said he wanted to “see” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, not “kiss” her, upending a widely reported remark that had seemed to show the dramatic story coming to a happy ending. Other Chinese activists soon followed, sharing their own accounts of what Chen had said.
Foreign reporters contacted Chen via telephone and found him frightened and wanting to leave China. Two days later, plans were in the works for Chen to come study at an American university, as U.S. officials scrambled to rework the initial deal, which was excoriated by human rights groups and Republican critics.
The uproar put Clinton, who has been lauded by staffers as the “godmother of 21st century statecraft” for embracing Twitter and other digital tools, on the flip side of social media. Thanks to Twitter, the "air of privileged secrecy" around diplomacy is becoming harder than ever to maintain, New America Foundation senior fellow Emily Parker argued in the New Republic. L.A. Times

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