Beliefnet
Beginner's Heart

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via google

I’m a native Okie. Most of the time, I’m very proud of my 2nd generation roots — not common for many Okies, many of whom have moved here during various oil booms, or for school, or whatever.

My grandparents weren’t in the Rush, and I’m proud of that, too, as it was a rip. Where do you think the term ‘Sooners’ came from? Folks who jumped the gun. Literally rode out early to stake land claims. And don’t forget: this was all Indian Territory, promised by treaty to various tribes.

So Oklahoma begins in a conflicted manner: a Land Rush to land that was legally promised to others. Cheaters sneaking in to stake land early. The Tulsa Race Riots a few years later, and other blots.

For a while, we seemed to lay those dark moments behind us. During my childhood & adolescence, Oklahoma was a progressive state. A state of writers & artists — Ralph Ellison & Woody Guthrie, N. Scott Momaday & Maria Tallchief. Carl Albert, Speaker of the House, was a voice for working families. He was instrumental in the passage of Medicare, for instance: a boon to the many working poor in Oklahoma and the rest of the country.

So the Oklahoma I grew up in is night & day different from the state that just proposed we ban hoodies. Yup, you read correctly: ban hoodies. In public places, if you have ‘ill intent.’ Now, let me get this straight: you can wear a hoodie if you don’t have ill intent? And…who gets to decide this?? Exactly how do you determine — BEFORE a crime is committed — what someone’s ‘intent’ is?

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via wikimedia

Oklahoma has a history of dumb laws, laws that end up coming back to bite us you-know-where. Like, making a law that a statue of the 10 Commandments could be placed on the State Capitol grounds. Sure. But that opened the way to the Satanic Church citing their Constitutional right to a similar statue, of Satan & the little children (I’m not kidding). Not to mention the Black Mass thing…

We are a wayward state, given to strange fancies and odd lawmakers. It’s in our history, from Alfalfa Bill Murray (our 9th state governor), who allegedly slapped fig leaves on all the ancient Greco-Roman statues bought for the Capitol. After all, they were nekkid.

So here I am, living in a state where my family has deep roots. My aunt held office here, my father ran for office here. My grandmother was one of the state’s first female postmasters. We have farmed here, owned businesses here, and lived & loved & died here. Yet sometimes? All I want to do is leave…

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via wikimedia

Oklahoma, you violently red state, I have no clue how to continue our relationship. You try my beginner’s heart no end. How do I reconcile the great beauty of Rainy Mountain rising from the red rock near Quartz Mountain w/ the blood-red anger you show so many of America’s minorities? You’re homophobic, racist, greedy, corrupt. You’re beautiful beyond breath, kinder than the destructive force of a F5 tornado, more generous than any religion could ask. When I walk beneath the honey locusts in the spring, I swear there’s no place more lovely. And when I read of another of your dumb laws? I swear there’s no place more benighted.

Middle Path? I guess. But it sure is embarrassing sometimes.

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