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Deliverance

“One often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” – Jean de la Fontaine

When the Jon Voigt/Burt Reynolds classic, “Deliverance”, was filmed on the Chattooga River in beautiful Rabun County, Georgia in 1972 Southerners, myself included, were outraged at the negative stereotypes of Appalachian Americans depicted in the epic film.

In 2016, Ray and I watched the film again and laughed at the irony that we lived a stone’s throw from the Chattooga River, and that I had married my “Uncle Ray”.

Yes, you read that correctly. I called him “Uncle Ray” most of my life, until I joyfully called him husband. God arranged the marriage, but Ray took the initiative to make it happen, as Old School Military Men will always do. He first held me as a wee one in the Miami International Airport in 1972 when his Secretary, my Grandma Mag, cooed over me on my way from Puerto Rico to Florida. He was a constant in my life. You could set your watch by him. You could count on him for an honest answer, often spoken in fluent Sailor. He would not allow me to take out the garbage even after a quintuple bypass, and he was adamant that I not work outside the home. He went to Palmetto Fade Barber Shop every two weeks. He shaved and showered twice a day, and always smelled of Irish Spring, Old Spice, and Johnson’s Baby Powder. He would always do what he said he would do. He would hit a man with a strong right hook, but he never hit a woman. He loved God, his Momma, and me. He enjoyed his beer and whiskey from the comfort of his own home, instead of acting a fool at the local Honky Tonk and getting a DUI. These are features of the Old School Military Man.

He could have retired when Eastern Airlines folded, but he didn’t. He and Marilyn moved to Oconee County, South Carolina and he got back to work as the City of Walhalla Building Codes Official. He could have shoved Marilyn in a rest home when she got sick, but he didn’t. He took care of her at home with loving care, as she wanted.

He could have folded when the grief of widowed life struck him in 2011, but he didn’t. He called me and stated in plain English, “Get down here and marry me woman.”

Okay, his may not have been the EL James romantic wedding proposal women dream of most days, but it was honest. It was square. I wonder if women don’t do to men with romance novels what we accuse men of doing to women with pornography. We elevate our fantasies to the level of idolatry and punish each other when we do not meet each other’s unrealistic expectations. At the end of the day, having a roof over your head, grub to eat, a rig to drive, and someone to love and trust is romantic. If you have what you need, you’re doing better than 2/3rds of the Human Family.

I was so angry and scrunched up as a young woman over how my Vietnam Veterans were treated that I worked like a maniac to overcome Southern stereotypes. I studied extra hard to avoid being thought of as dumb. I switched accents as the occasion required. I moved up North to Spokane. I took every road I could to avoid fulfilling any stereotypes depicted in “Deliverance”, but then I went home to the Carolinas and married my Uncle Ray. In other words, I met my destiny on the very road I took to avoid it, as Jean de la Fontaine observed.

When I met Rachel Dolezal in our Spokane Valley Michael’s recently, she was polite and professional. I purchased her beautiful signed print, “Deliverance”, and reflected on what it meant to me. The image of the white and black birds is a reminder of the binary of life. Zeroes and ones. The engineering and architecture of the entire universe is expressed in zeroes and ones. All of our conflicts as men and women, ethnic and religious groups, all result from failing to perceive zero as one’s opposite, not as its lesser value. Zero is the gate keeper between positive and negative numbers. One divides zero and zero is still zero. Zero divides one, and an irrational number results. These mathematical truths will help us harmonize and write better code for the 21st Century.

I don’t know what makes Rachel Dolezal see the world through her eyes. Who knows how she was treated as a child in Libby, Montana. What did she see when shopping with her brothers in the Pamida? Who stared her down and made her feel less than for having siblings whose skin was ebony instead of ivory? Who knows. All I know is that she is sweet as a peach, and an absolutely brilliant artist. Which white woman has not over emphasized the recessive roots on her family tree given the current identity politics against white men? I am tragically white, but that’s okay. Rachel Dolezal proves what I believe. We are not one human race. That’s the entire problem we must solve in the 21st Century. We race and rush around and are too hastened by what we consider life. We are one human journey. When we take it slower, breath, and listen to one another, then we understand what President John F. Kennedy meant when he said, “The highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and let the chips fall where they may.” The painting framed in blue is Rachel Dolezal’s “Deliverance” – available here:

Rachel Dolezal’s “Deliverance”

Thank you, Rachel Dolezal, for remaining true to yourself in spite of the cruelty spoken against you after the media fire storm grilled you mercilessly for your identity. I was not born in a black robe with a gavel. I don’t judge you. If Mother calls me a Right Wing Maniac, then I am no better than you for your identity. Thank you for this beautiful work of art. It helps me connect with my beautiful Ray on a deeper level, and assists in my spiritual deliverance.

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