In university, most professors agree that encyclopedias are not proper scholarly sources, but they work well as background information; to discover facts that require further support. Old books waft certain aromas, a headiness, but also a mustiness, an acrid reminder of the past and all the knowledge these encyclopedias contain; knowledge judged inaccurate and unreliable alone.
I was studying the poet Samual Taylor Coleridge, and I paused, thinking if in the academic ‘encyclopedia’ of my Literary Criticism textbook, Coleridge’s writing was valid and acclaimed by modern peers, or if he too spouted words too many scholars scoff at and ignore; does his literary criticism require more validation — the answer is simple, nothing can be read at face value, not even the musings of great poets.
So blessed to have another poem on http://www.spillwords.com. This poem is based off the poem “New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus and is a commentary on current immigration policies in the U.S., now, and in the past, but particularly, in the late 19th century where many Europeans immigrated to the U.S. to escape poverty, persecution, and starvation. Unfortunately, the U.S. was not much better than where they came from. But it was better enough that they could survive even in neighborhoods such as the brutal and famous 5 ‘Points District’ in New York City.
The poem was published in late November and I missed it. But here it is now for your thoughts and enjoyment. It’s called “Giants of Hypocrisy.”
Thanks to the lovely and gracious Priceless Joy for hosting FFftAW this last week.
Violet read the letter her daughter had sent her in disbelief. To fathom a girl of Elizabeth’s quality of breeding would do this to her family was unimaginable.
Harsh Victorian society could never know the truth of what Elizabeth had done and Violet wasn’t sure she could bear to keep in contact with her daughter.
She would focus on her other children. Violet’s sons had married well. Three of her daughters were also married suitably and having more children. Her two youngest daughters were courting wealthy gentlemen.
Elizabeth if not cut-off from her family, could ruin them all. Violet reread part of her daughter’s letter once more in disgust:
“Did you know Mama, there is such thing as a circus? Freaks of all kinds, but I love them because they’re genuine, not like the society you so desperately try to trap me in. Years of dance lessons have left me flexible. I pirouette far above the ground and dance in the air; I ride the elephants.
It’s amazing travelling the world and I won’t be returning to London, except for an occasional visit of course. I’ve married one of the men who runs the circus. He is like me, gentry who has run away from a society of judgement. I love you and hope we can write, but I can’t be the woman you want me to be. . .”
“The Judgement card calls for a period of reflection and self-evaluation. Through meditation or quiet reflection, you may come to a point of deep understanding about the common themes throughout your life and what you can do or change to avoid these situations in the future. Judgement tells you that you are close to reaching a significant stage in your own journey. . .”
“I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you,” Jared told his girlfriend Ashlen. The words tasted bitter in his mouth. He hated having to apologize to her; it made him panic.
“Are you really? I’ve heard that so many times before from you, Jared. Are you sorry because I caught you or sorry for flirting with Sara and leading her on?”
Jared stared at his feet and scrunched his eyes. He didn’t mean to flirt with Sara. She was one of thosegirls, the kind who put out easily and hit on every guy she thought attractive.
“I’m sorry Ashlen. I don’t like Sara that way, she’s just like that you know –a whore; she hits on every guy and probably sleeps with many of them too,” Jared said.
“Well, why didn’t you brush her off right away?”
He shrugged, sighing.”She doesn’t mean anything to me. I love you Ashlen and I’ve been with you two-years; I’ve told you — I want to be with you forever.”
Ashlen blushed, Jared had said exactly the right words. But something he said about Sara earlier, bothered her.
“Okay, I forgive you for flirting with Sara, but don’t let it happen again,” she said. “If Sara bothers you too much when we see her, wave to me or text me in the bar — I’ll get rid of her fast. I don’t flirt with random guys, Jared. So, don’t flirt with girls like Sara, is what I’m trying to tell you.”
“But I will say this: I think when you and your guy friends pay attention to Sara –her sexually explicit behaviour, her itty–bitty clothes, and when you guys all let her touch you —-you’re all leading her on. She thinks she has a chance with one of you –but you all have girlfriends or fiancées.”
Jared started to get mad. “It is what it is, Ashlen. I can’t control how Sara acts. If you forgive me, let’s not talk about her. I don’t want to spend our night talking about some girl who doesn’t matter to me. I’m grabbing another beer.”
(10 minutes later)
“Jared, you know you not wanting to talk about Sara, it’s kind of a problem for me at the moment,” Ashlen said.
“Listen, you and your buddies call Sara a slut and you’re really just being disrespectful to her as a woman. When you openly call her names, especially to her face, you’re encouraging her to act exactly like the names you guys call her.”
“If you ignored Sara and acted uninterested and normal around her, she’d stop acting how she does.You guys flirt with her and call her names, instead of finding a way to politely tell her to get lost,” Ashlen explained.
“She’s a skank and isn’t going to change her ways because of how my friends or I treat her,” Jared reasoned.
Ashley punched him in the shoulder, not too hard, but hard enough.
“What was that for?” Jared asked.
“You’re not paying attention to what I’m saying,” Ashlen remarked. “How you treat Sara, yourjudgement of her, directly correlates to how she acts. Understand ‘College Boy?'”
Jared started to speak and Ashlen cut him off, “She’s not a slut. No woman is, even if she chooses to sleep around. I mean presumably if she is doing it as a career, it’s different. But what I’m saying is, don’t call women degrading names, especially, when you don’t know anything about Sara forsure.”
“She may talk and flirt a good game, but it doesn’t mean she’s slept with all these guys you think she has. I think most of her bad reputation is nasty rumours. She thinks acting how she does will get her friends and guys –what she believes is the right kind of attention.”
Ashley studied her nails before continuing to talk: “I don’t like Sara because she hits on guys she knows have girlfriends, namely you. But on the other hand, I can’t judge her entire character because I don’t know her. I wouldn’t want to be a called a whore over rumours about me. And I don’t want to put-down other women just because,” Ashlen said hands on her hips.
Jared listened to Ashlen, he knew she’d be mad if he didn’t. Plus, what she said made sense strangely. He wouldn’t want anyone to judge him, when they didn’t know what circumstances he came from. He probably wouldn’t care, but he knew from having a younger sister, judgement of a girl’s reputation was exceptionally tearful and mean.
“Okay fine. I’ll be nicer to Sara and I won’t flirt with her again,” he said carefully, hoping he’d chosen the right phrase for Ashlen.
She smiled and hugged him around the waist, her head resting on his chest. “Yeah, in fact, if she tries again, lets tell her she doesn’t have to act how she does to have friends or a boyfriend –in a nice way.”
“Sara may not care, but then again, it might help her and us.” Ashlen mused. “She can actually find a guy who’s single and likes her, and leave my and my friends’ boyfriend’s and fiancé’s alone.”
Jared nodded subtly, taking a swig of his second beer.”We could try. Maybe it’s better coming from you, than me?” he said.
“I think those words coming from a guy might be more effective actually. We’ll see how it goes.”
“Okay babe. Sounds like a good plan for next time we run into Sara. Do you want to go home now?” Jared asked, draining his beer.
“Yeah,” Ashlen said. “2:00 am is a long night with work in the afternoon tomorrow. I’ll drive don’t worry.”
The couple headed home, satisfied with how they would handle Sara in the future.
Thanks to Wandering Soul for hosting this prompt challenge. This week’s challenge is up to a 500 word piece of writing with the beginning sentence: “The delicious aroma of the freshly baked croissants wafted through the near-empty café.”
The delicious aroma of the freshly baked croissants wafted through the near-empty Cafe. It was Sunday morning around 9:00 am and the majority of people weren’t up this early. Many church services did not begin until 10:00 or 10:30 am. Giselle thought about her home church while eating a buttery croissant and drinking a cappuccino.
She hadn’t been to church in a while. It wasn’t because she stopped believing in God or his son Jesus. It didn’t mean she didn’t have a few Christian friends or that she didn’t miss some of the people she grew up with in church.
Other issues were at work in Giselle’s life and a place which had always felt peaceful and inviting to her, became a place full of judgement. There was no forgiveness to be found in her old church and Giselle felt heavy hearted. People she had fondly thought of as Aunties and Uncles growing up, now gazed upon her with severe disapproval.
Giselle believed it was God’s right alone to judge a person’s sins. Other Christians in her life could guide her and warn her of where her actions might lead, but she didn’t deserve hatred from them, to be the subject of gossip. Her best friend Ivy especially, had turned on Giselle.
Giselle had read a meme on the internet that read: “Thou Shall Not Judge Because Thou Has F$&#%d Up Too.” It was pertinent. When Giselle admitted to Ivy she had been attacked and raped by a stranger in an alley one night, Ivy had given her a stunned stare.
“Are you sure?” Ivy had asked, then later told her parents and other church members Ivy ran into. Giselle had told Ivy she was pregnant with the rapist’s child. Rumours and gossip spread. Ivy, her family, and many other church members thought Giselle was having an abortion when she was admitted into hospital.
The reality was Giselle’s pregnancy had failed; the tiny baby growing within Giselle had died. A doctor informed Giselle there had been complications. She could never have a child again.
An elderly man at church had told Giselle, “You sew what you reap,” when he had heard the gossip Ivy had spread about Giselle having an abortion.
Giselle was suffering inside and some of her best friends were ‘outing her.’ The only people who knew and believed the truth were Giselle’s family and they were judged harshly for supporting Giselle.
She attended her home church for the last time that Sunday, enduring cat-like behaviour from the women and men who told her she should be ashamed. Shouldn’t they be helping her and ‘lifting her up?’ Did they no longer care about her?
Giselle thought it ironic her church wondered why Christains were not attending church. Couldn’t they see, the world had become a kinder place than their church? That Jesus’ light was brighter out among strangers? People Giselle had known and trusted all her life had become like ‘a den of vipers.’
Looking up one last time at the cross and steeple of the church Giselle had called home, she left her church for good; Giselle had hope she would find a kinder church someday.
Note: There are great Christian churches with kind and understanding people attending them. They are good neighbours who through God, help people like Giselle heal. This story is fictional and hopefully, a worst case scenario.