‘In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight’

‘In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight’

For the sake of our republic, this is no time to sleep

Our republic has fallen asleep. Like a person whose partner is cheating, we have closed our eyes until it might be too late. In our innocence, we are slowly (perhaps not so slowly) losing what we once fought so hard to achieve. If we are the guiding light for the world, our world is in trouble.

Our president has declared recently sworn in U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh “proven innocent.” Can someone tell me please, in what court of law? In fact, he has not been proven innocent or guilty by any court of law. Have we let go completely of the principles that have guided us in “justice” for so many years? Did we ever even have “justice?” Is true “justice” possible for human beings to achieve?

Our systems aren’t working

When we look at our prisons system, educational system, health care system, voting rights and immigration system, we have, pardon my expression, totally screwed up. I feel for the people who have risked it all to come here when even our right to speak our minds and to protest is challenged.

In my youth, I was one of those adventurers who ran off to see the world. This was a time when many of us were hitchhiking through Europe, Africa and Asia. Frustrated with the policies of the Nixon era and the Vietnam War, we set out with our backpacks to see what else was available.

Like the writer/playwright couple Jane and Paul Bowles, I was seduced by North Africa, specifically Morocco. In those days, Jews were welcomed, and I was referred to as a “sister.” I met bright and earnest American young men who were educated, talented and running away from the draft. Canada was not the only place they went.

Even living in Tangier, our house had running water. We did not have to go to the well located a block away. Of course, we had to heat our bathwater, but we considered ourselves fortunate that we did not have to carry it home.

First generation in America

I learned about how many others live in this world, without food, shelter, education or medical care in the sense that I had taken this all for granted as an American citizen. On my father’s side, I am first generation in this country.

In his time, my father would have been considered DACA, although he was seeking asylum from a country known for killing its Jews. He became an eye surgeon and sent both of his children to college.

I soon learned in my travels that I needed to go home and finish my education. My father, after all, was right. If I wanted a meaningful life, I had to take advantage of the opportunities that were offered to me. But even then, I knew that in my own country, where I had many advantages, others did not. I do not believe I had any idea how many others did not.

Building a good democracy

Democracy is like marriage. If it is not nurtured, if there is no cooperation and respect between the people in a marriage, it will not survive. Or perhaps it will survive, but not in the same state of being that it possibly might have had in the beginning.

I know recent refugees, seeking asylum from regimes that would murder them if they had stayed, or if they were lucky, might have imprisoned them for the rest of their lives. What I heard from these refugees over and over again was that here, in America, we have checks and balances. Nothing like what they had experienced could happen here.

But could it happen here?

After reading more Holocaust diaries and memoirs than I can list, I know that is what many people said in Germany in the 1930s. These Jews were leaving lives there, in that time, that were very much like the lives my sister and I are living in America today.

The Saturday when Kavanaugh was sworn in to the highest court in the land, I must confess, was a difficult day for me. We are truly living in the times when the emperor has no clothes. In his horse and carriage, he is parading through the world completely naked while we nod to one another and comment on how lovely his costume is. And not only is the emperor exposing himself to everyone so are the members of his court.

I woke up this morning thinking that I could not write about this; that I had no words. However, running through my photos, I was able to find them.

This is no time to let sleeping dogs lie.

The author's dog lies sleeping.  PHOTO BY PHYLLIS M SKOY

The author’s dog lies sleeping.

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