Friday, June 4, 2010

Circle of Friends

by Linda Van Treese

Who knew that a brief three months ago I would re-connect with people I haven't had contact with in almost forty years? Thank you Dubby for finding me and including me in your circle. You have no idea how excited I was to see your 'friend' request. I had thought about you over the course of years and wondered what had happened in your life.

Then I discovered you had within your circle of friends others that I have thought about as well and wondered how they had faired in this game of life...Jo, Rick, Reya, Danny, Wade, Dan, Janie, Vickie, Nancy, Lowell...I remember you all. I'm happy to have you in my life again so many years later and even though I didn't know you well way back then, I hope to know you better all these years later.

Excellent posts by Reya and Jo. Lowell's reply to Reya's post I found thoughtful and logical. Logic, for me always wins out over emotion when someone is trying to make a point. That's not to say that there isn't room for passion in any discussion, but passion can be expressed without having to resort to name calling and using labels to make certain people or groups of people feel uncomfortable about even expressing an opinion for fear of being labeled a racist, homophobe, socialist, communist, redneck, liberal, conservative, feminist, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum.

I've tried to determine when all the 'labeling' began. When I was a kid growing up in California I don't remember ever making a distinction about my friends or the kids I went to school with based upon their skin color. True, we didn't have any black kids, but there were plenty of Hispanic and Native American kids. My best friend was an Indian girl named Rosemarie and I thought she was so beautiful with her long hair that was so black, it looked almost blue and doe brown eyes...I was envious of her 'uniqueness'. We were Yin and Yang for sure and inseparable as friends and companions until she left our public school to attend Catholic school in third grade. This was years before political correctness or diversity training.

Then, we moved to Kansas City the summer of fifth grade. It wasn't long before it became apparent to me that people segregated themselves into 'groups'. That was the first time I'd ever noticed it or was aware of it. Even in school, kids seemed to 'group' up and I never felt like I fit in anywhere in particular. One incident I remember occured in sixth grade. Most of the kids had a 'history' and had grown up together. I, on the other hand, was the 'new' kid. One popular girl in one of the other sixth grade classes let it be known that she wanted to 'meet' me during recess in the girl's bathroom. This was not a request as much a summons issued by the sixth grade 'It' girl. I went to the 'meeting' not knowing what to expect really. Phyllis was there before me with her cadre of syncophants. I had with me two of my friends, Shannon McMeen and Kathy Cox. Phyllis started to give me the third degree wanting to know where I was from, where I lived, why I wore the clothes I did and weirdest of all...why I didn't wear bobbie socks with my tennis shoes. I told her I'd never worn socks before because if you did (being from California) you'd have a tan line. She also informed me that if I so even looked cross eyed at her boyfriend, I'd be sorry. Evidently that was the real reason for the meeting. Rumor had it that her boyfriend had smiled at me or something. Phyllis and I were never friends, but she never beat the crap out of me was an uneasy truce.

I guess that's why as I grew into adulthood, I made a concerted effort not to fit into any particular group. I would describe myself today as conservative on fiscal issues and libertarian on social issues. That's not to say that I might or might not approve of someone's choice of lifestyle, I just don't think it's any of my business how someone chooses to live as long as they respect my choice not to embrace their choice as some kind of 'right'. I think part of the problem we have today is this propensity for politicians in BOTH parties to encourage this idea that we, as Americans, are really just 'groups' that they can exploit and pit against one another for their own purposes. I believe that purpose ultimately ends in control and loss of freedom.

I don't know about you, but I grew up and left home a long time ago and I don't need any government to tell me they know better how I should live my life. I also don't appreciate the legions of 'victims' the politicians insist on creating. Without victims they can't propose rules, regulations and seemingly endless entitlements for one group or another that are imposed with the intended purpose of creating a political class that will insure their continued power and control.

What we need are real leaders, not politicians and I say, a pox on both their houses. Even though I didn't vote for our current President, I had genuine hopes that somehow, maybe, we were ready to move forward as a nation and to finally realize our true potential as a people and I wished him well, I truly did. Sadly, I don't see any improvement over the past administration and the continued path toward insolvency as individuals and as a nation fills me with a dread and foreboding.

I see this blog as a good place to start a new conversation based upon respect for each other and in recognition of the fact that we have much in common regardless of our individual ideologies. I consider it a priviledge to be included in your circle.

P.S. Jo, you can 'cut' in line anytime my friend. I don't think I have a particular place in line or order of posting.


  1. Love everything about this post - the honesty, the calm, deliberate delivery, the way you are who you are whether anyone approves or not.

    You are a friend of mine! I salute you. Bravo!!

  2. dang Linda, you beat me to the punch. Guess I'd better get busy. Loved your observations about the whole "group" thing in school. I guess we were pretty into all that. I've been curious, from the start, about what brought us all here, and we've all speculated in earlier posts. Whatever, I'm glad it did. I'm trying to be logical, and not too emotional, :-) but it's not working, huh?

    Will the circle be unbroken

  3. Thank you Reya...your comments touch my heart and mean much to me coming from you because I admire the way your mind works and think you have a beautiful soul.

    Rick, you have a wry sense of humor and a creative talent I envy. You also have a big heart. We'll keep the circle unbroken and make it bigger, yeah?

    Group hug :-)

  4. Linda. Great to see your post tie together so nicely here! I remember all those people and I gasp at the confrontation. Shannon McMeen lived four doors down and we were best friends in 2d and 3d grade or 3d and 4th. She was my first "love" and I was quite devoted to her--as devoted as a 7 year old can be I guess.

    I remember all those girls including Phyllis who I had met back up with a few years ago here on the internet, before Facebook. By 6th grade I'd moved to Stratford Estates so I was going to Burke then. But as far as groups go, we had them with us through high school, eh?

    Greasers, geeks (what did we call geeks--nerds?, I don't remember), freaks (hippies), jocks, intellectuals (what did we call them, goodie-goodies?). By our junior year I had pretty well infiltrated all the groups and found myself assoicating in cross cultural activities. I specifically remember the jock-freak-greaser convergence as pot seemed to be the glue or attraction for unlikely companions.

    I'd love to see organizations spring up, such as Smiling Heart groups, where people would seek the similarities, such as our love for families and grandchildren and the need to nourish a planet in need of our care, as opposed to fighting over ideology.

    I wonder now, could this "fog" of animosity be a ploy by a mysterious force of the economy, to keep people at odds so that we'll all stay trapped in a system where corporations have us all hoodwinked?

    If we ran our small businesses and took care of our local communities and strived to find peaceful solutions, while overlooking who is wearing a certain kind of socks--could we speed up progress?

  5. Thanks for a great post, Linda.

    Who is this Phyllis chick and what is her problem? I'd better not run into her on a darkened street some night...nobody treats MY friend that way! (;-)

    [that hurt my brain to try and sound tough]

    In your honor (and for the sake of no tan lines) I'm going without socks today.

    And Rick, there's a place for both logic AND emotion in any discussion. Poets like you prove it.

    Here's to unbroken circles and the people who keep them strong.

  6. I bet Phyllis is on FB. If we found her now, I bet we'd find out she has turned out to be a really good person. You think?

  7. Who knows? Anything is possible ;-) See Reya, that's why I love the way your mind works...always sending out the positive vibes. I want to be just like you when I grow up.
    Jo, I appreciate the show of is a flip flop kind of day...nice try on sounding tough.
    Dub, I tried to be friends with all different groups as was more fun that way, well at least as much fun as it could be in high school.

  8. Wow to all of the above! I have always been an emotional person but have always liked all groups/greasers/jocks/freaks etc. The diversity is what life is all about. Thank you all for letting me be a part of this blog! I read and love every word.

  9. wisemanjdjr...welcome! Glad to have you here.

  10. Great post and responding comments. I love you all and consider myself lucky to have every one of you as my old/new friends. I have always been a music freak, so I will leave a quote concerning groups and labels from a freak of extraordinary proportion. If more of us didn't fall for the political-speak foisted upon us by those who would separate us so we can more easily be exploited, life in this world would be much easier for all of the world's inhabitants: "When the power of love overcomes the love of power,the world will finally know peace." Jimi Hendrix

  11. Oh Dan. Thank you for that brother! I am also reminded about Bob Marley's vision and mission, using music and love...

  12. I only just got through reading several previous threads and something struck me as funny.

    I work in a triumvirate management situation at the radio station. One of us is an extreme liberal, one is an extreme conservative and I am more or less a centrist/libertarian. I try to consider all points of view, then make the choice I believe represents my way of thinking, and vote MY conscience.

    I do get quite a kick out of my two cohort's discussions (arguments). They both spit out quotes from their pundits of choice (Beck, Olberman, etc.) and, as far as I can discern, they have no true opinions of their own. I watch them as they roll their eyes at each other, get red in the face and end up in seething silence just staring at each other, never coming to any kind if compromising consensus.

    Then I chime in and try to point out what they have in common (as I am able to understand why both see it the way they do) and suggest we all should simply agree to disagree on political subjects, and conduct the station's business. One policy we do agree on - NO political opinions and NO religious discussions are allowed on the air. For a fleeting moment we find enough common ground to make the decisions necessary to move forward.

    The next time we meet, it all starts over again. It's not that I am so much smarter than they are, it's just that I am more willing to see both sides without the animosity and come to an amicable compromise.

    This doesn't seem to be very difficult to me, but for some it is nearly impossible to "walk a mile" in another's shoes. Maybe it's because I'm much older that they are. Maybe it's because I find this kind of intransigence so unnecessary and a waste of energy. For me, it's always best to attempt to understand all sides of a situation before I take a stance. My decisions are always much easier to make when I do.

  13. So sorry to hijack this thread, but following is a letter I wrote just before the last election that was published in our local newspaper. I wrote it after witnessing heated arguments and threats of bodily harm on a local social media blog site.

    The Divisiveness of Politics:

    Ah, political season again. When everyone sees what they want to see and very few actually care to look at the facts. Vilify, crush, insult, and ridicule the one who doesn't agree with your opinion. Believe every negative email or blog that serves your purpose and has anything negative to say about the opponent. Spread lies and half-truths if it justifies your point of view. Twist and spin everything else that is said in futile attempts to convince "the other side" that you possess the only way to true salvation, change, and hope.

    There is NO OTHER SIDE! Every political election season we become the "Divided States Of America"...WHY!!! We all want the same things:
    Security for our families
    Less tax burdens
    A wise central government
    Individual states rights
    A strong economy
    Freedom of speech
    Freedom of religion
    Freedom from want
    Freedom from fear...

    Will we ever become "The United States of America", again? We get very little encouragement from our own elected officials. Too many blogs I see every day on the Internet, stories in newspapers, and on television, seem to want us to believe we may never be united again. I think we are more united than some would have us believe.

    I think that there are only a few of us who buy into this form of alleged communication...or communication breakdown as I see it. They are a very vocal few, but nevertheless only a few, and thrive on the fear created by political extremism.

    I have a fervent hope that we will some day again unite as Americans. Not left against right, republicans against democrats, black against white, X against Y (replace the letters with your choice of opinionated groups), but as Americans living in a republic in which we all can believe what we wish and thrive as a people. One republic where we have respect for each other regardless of opinion, not disdain because of political disagreement.

    Until that time, I discourage all from participating in any venomous forum, passively or actively, and let the argumentative ones beat their heads against the walls of divisiveness. Maybe then all of the citizens of “The United States of America” will be better served.

    Call me an idealist, but that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it!

    Good luck, love, and respect to all, regardless of what you believe or how you will vote.

    Danny Burns, Inlet Beach

  14. "a waste of energy"... spoken like a true lazy, old guy, (me). Love you Danny! :-)

  15. Danny this is awesome!! LOVE your thoughts and comments, and OH yeah, does that ever describe so much of American culture at this moment in history.

    After the election, I went pundit-free. I have been so much happier ever since. I miss Walter Cronkite style news in which what happens is reported without a serious slant on it.

    Love my Keith and Rachel, but I stay far away from them these days. Thinking for myself is so hard, but really good for me.

    Love love love LOVE what is happening here! Rick: can't wait to read your post. C'mon.

  16. If the world could do what we're doing here, well .. wow.

    LOVE Jimi. LOVE Bob Marley. LOVE LOVE LOVE

  17. Gosh Danny, that is an excellent editorial and mirrors my thoughts exactly.

    I can't imagine having to work with two people who are constantly at each other's throats...must be greatly frustrating for you sometimes.

    Love for you to share your thoughts and please don't hesitate to express them on this blog.

    Big hug!

  18. Lindi loo speaks for me. C'mon Danny. Tell us everything. Please??

  19. now two more comments and a new post by Rick which i haven't even read yet. but will try again to explain that Reya's love, in three, all caps, reminded me that the boys said it first. we need to memorialize them in the vein of musicians we can give credit to. it's all you need


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