We're Better Than This
We have no words of wisdom, only sadness and embarrassment.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It's becoming almost a daily occurrence, but our reactions to it, although strong and condemning, are also a reflection of our different perspectives.
As a mom, Red finds it both incomprehensible and incredibly frightening, as she fears that with each passing day, there's truly no safe place for her children, for her loved ones, her friends, herself. There's always been the possibility of random acts of violence, but by using a combination of common sense and doing the "right things" there was a lot you could do to avoid putting yourself in harm's way. But it seems everything has changed.
The recent shooting in Boulder, Colorado showed that just going grocery shopping could prove deadly, just as prior events – from attending an outdoor concert in Las Vegas or a nightclub in Florida to even going to a movie, again in Colorado – made us realize that routine activities are no longer immune from the horrors of gun violence. However, most would agree that the very worst (not that any loss of life is acceptable) are the deadly school shootings across the nation, too numerous to mention.
As President Biden stated after the recent Indianapolis mass shooting,
Gun violence is an epidemic in America. But we should not accept it. We must act. … Too many Americans are dying every single day from gun violence. It stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation. We can, and must, do more to act and to save lives.
Black, of course, agreed with Red, and then reminded her that it was less than a month ago that we addressed the question, Another mass shooting! How do we make these stop?, and that there's no simple answer. And then we started talking about how all gun violence is being "lumped together" – domestic violence, targeted shootings, and random mass shootings – and making headline news. Of course, any lost life is tragic, with the heartbreak and ripple effect no less so in one situation than another.
Always driven by statistics and numbers, vs. emotion, Black found a website that provides near-real-time data about the results of gun violence. She also looked at how gun violence in the U.S. compares to the rest of the world (including a BBC article with great graphics). The more she thought about it – the more she realized that the specifics related to any gun violence point to a bigger problem … that needs to be addressed on a bigger scale.
As Black explained to Red … it isn't just about gun control, it's about leadership (or, perhaps, the lack thereof). Gun violence shouldn't be political – yet there's so much political rhetoric that seems to condone violence. Full stop. Then, she became more emphatic,
When will politicians start taking responsibility for their words and actions (and inactions)? And, when will we all start taking responsibility to hold them – and ourselves – responsible for who we are – and what we represent? Because, quite simply, we are better than this. As individuals. As a country.
Today’s a national holiday … for a reason. And although it may be a day of fun, festivities, and maybe even relaxation, it’s important to stop and think about the true meaning of the day …
We all “celebrate” Memorial Day differently, but we all should remember it’s a day to honor those who gave their lives serving this country.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, and Red remembers celebrating over the years with family get-togethers, barbeques, and pool parties; whereas Black “celebrates” most holidays by having a quiet day to work uninterrupted, but it’s important never to forget the significance of the holiday.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the festivities, but as a lover of history, I was fascinated to learn the history of Memorial Day goes back to the Civil War. But what’s most important is that we each find a way to remember that Memorial Day honors those men and women who’ve given their lives for this country.While Black believes,
Today is a day to put aside politics and think about patriotism. It is about gratitude. About sacrifice. About honoring those who paid the greatest price for believing in something that is bigger than all of us.
Think about what the day means to you or read the words of others who pay respect to fallen members of the military (here and here). And join us in observing the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time.
If you’re looking for a reason not to mow, there’s logic behind letting it grow …
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: As is often the case, Red hadn’t heard of the latest trend, “No Mow May,” which is all about lawn maintenance (or the lack of it) until Black started sending her articles about it.
Growing up on Long Island, everyone in our neighborhood wanted a lush, green lawn. It wasn’t until we were older that we realized how much time and money it required to achieve it. That it doesn’t just happen. But now, it has become the latest environmental issue.
At first, Red thought that not cutting your lawn for an entire month might be a joke. But then she read a few articles (here and here) explaining how leaving your yard alone could help Mother Nature by positively impacting bees and other pollinators. Plus, giving your lawn a rest from fertilizers, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers is good for the environment.
It made sense to Red, except right now, she’s been working hard to turn a collection of bare patches in her front yard into an “acceptable” lawn,
My yard’s a mess. Weeds so numerous they look like ground cover, just enough grass to suggest there might be hope, and big, beautiful oak trees that insist on “drinking” all the water. Which means I’m having to deal with my homeowner’s association (HOA) and their “dire” letters of warning. (This isn’t an exaggeration, as anyone who lives under a strict HOA knows all too well.)
Red doubted she could stall the HOA with an environmental excuse, but remembered that when she lived in England, she was struck by how yards seemed more natural vs. “perfectly landscaped” – what she thought of as a carefully planned mess. So, she now wondered if the English were onto something way before “No Mow May” ever came along.
Black admits to having a black thumb (seems rather appropriate) and claims she could kill a silk plant, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to know whether “No Mow May” was as beneficial as it sounded,
Of course, there are pros and cons to “No Mow May.” Interestingly, neither side disputes the importance of the underlying logic behind the first two words (“No Mow”), but as an ongoing approach, not a one-month experiment.
If you’ve never thought about May Day, don’t worry, most of us haven’t.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red appreciates that some holidays have historical significance, some have ancient traditions, and some are opportunities for one of Black’s unexpected, but often amusing and clever, comments, but May Day checks all those boxes.
As soon as Black mentioned pole dancing, Red, a lover of movies, immediately thought of “Hustlers.” No, not “ The Hustler,” the 1961 classic with Paul Newman as a small-time pool hustler. Instead, “Hustlers,” the 2019 release with Jennifer Lopez about pole dancing hustlers that showed it took more than a desire to make money, but skill and athleticism.
But Red had no idea the significance of May Day Maypole dancing. When she lived in England, May Day was a bank holiday, and she knew it had a long history that went back to the Celts, but that’s all she knew. Until recently, when she learned it’s an ancient and festive holiday filled with history and folklore, started by the Celts who thought May 1st was the most important day of the year as it separated the year into light and dark.
Which explains the beginning of a celebration of spring with singing, dancing, and bonfires that still continues. However, it doesn’t explain how in the late 19th century, May Day became known as International Workers’ Day to celebrate workers and promote labor rights.
And what about the Maypoles? Well, as Red discovered,
It was during the Middle Ages when the now famous Maypoles were believed to become popular, not only to welcome in spring but as a symbol of fertility, as the pole symbolized male fertility, with baskets and wreaths symbolizing female fertility.
When Red felt the need to share all this history with Black, her sister couldn’t help but respond with,
Although this has nothing to do with May Day, all I can say is “ Mayday. Mayday.” Which, if you do not speak French, is based on m’aider and means “Help me.”