Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Saturday, July 28, 2012

C: Lessons on a Bridge

i-430 We have a graceful bridge over the Arkansas River, uniting the North and South of our metropolitan area from its western side.  I don’t travel this bridge very often—maybe three or four times a year—finding that my travels take me more east-west and, if I go north, I usually travel on the Eastern side of the loop.

But this week I had court in another county, and the logical route home brought me by way of this bridge.  It was on that day (last Thursday), that something occurred to me.  Never—not one time, I’d venture to say—do I traverse this bridge without thinking of an incident that occurred there in 1999.  Yes, 13 years ago, and the incident is still in my mind every time I cross the bridge.  I told V about this, and she cCARSON PRINCEonfirmed that she, too, often thinks of it.

This young lady’s name is Carson Prince.  In 1999 she was  the nineteen-year-old daughter of two attorneys, one of them the former mayor of our city. 

In April 1999 drivers crossing from the North on this bridge called 911, reporting a struggle in a pick up truck also traveling along the bridge.  As other drivers watched in horror, a young girl either jumped or was pushed fr9430 ON THE BRIDGEom the moving vehicle, crashing her head against the guardrail.   This picture is what it looks like as you cross the bridge, headed  south, as was the truck on that day.

She died shortly afterward in the hospital with her shattered parents at her bedside.

This was nineteen-year-0ld Carson Prince, aspiring college student, typical trouble-with-mom teenager, beautiful spirit on the verge of exploring the world as an adult on her own; never quite making it.

Carson’s car was found half a mile away on the off-ramp.  It was pulled to the side with an empty gas tank.  A gas station was within walking distance of the car.  Witness recall seeing bridge a man who had stopped in a pickup truck, holding a gas can as if to give her aid. 

No one knows for sure, but all believe that either Carson trusted him to take her to get fuel or that he forced her into the car.  In any event, when he crossed the overpass and turned onto the Interstate instead of into the gas station, a mighty struggle ensued, which caught the attention of the 911 callers.  I choose to believe that Carson, brave soul, jumped to her death rather than giving herself over to the clutches of a monster.

Despite a great deal of identifying information about the vehicle driven by her kidnapper, no arrest occurred.  Five long years went by before a man stumbled into his local sheriff’s office in a small town west of us and confessed.  Steve Talley confessed that on that April day he had “…gone looking for someone to rape…”  He came across Carson.   There are some public details—including the fact that he says he hit her in the head with a wrench because of her fight before she flew out of the car.  

Talley went on to rape shortly after being thwarted by Carson.  He shot a teen-aged boy point-blank, chased down his fleeing girlfriend and eventually strangled hTALLEYer to death.  Their bodies were not found for those five long years prior to his confession.

Talley is now imprisoned without possibility of parole.  Thank God.

It feels odd for me to write about a crime that occurred so long ago.  I ask myself as I write why I am doing it, but I feel compulsion to do so.  As I crossed the bridge this last time, I knew I would write about her.  Why?

I think it is that young Carson Prince, whom I never met, has taught me lessons.  And they are lessons I think over at least three or four times a year as I cross this bridge and think of her and of her family who will never be the same.

Carson taught me the lesson that there is no sense to life some times, let alone to death. Certainly there was no sense to be made of her death.

Carson taught me that evil walks among us.  It is sometimes standing behind us in line at the grocery store; it sometimes shows up with a welcomed gas can to offer help when our tank is empty.  Evil, too, is senseless.  It is marauding, looking for its outlets.  If foiled by a courageous escape from a moving truck, it will find outlet somewhere else.

Carson taught me to remember that we need to treasure each other, to relish the time we have with one another.  We don’t know what’s around the corner.

But, in addition to thanking Carson for making me ponder these lessons frbridge pinnacleom her life and death, there is another cause for my compulsion to write about her.  I want her and everyone else who reads this to know that she is not forgotten; not by a long-shot.  She is well-remembered by me, a stranger, at least each time that I go that way. 

I’ll bet you there are many more out there just like me who think of Carson Prince as they drive that bridge.

Carson, rest in peace and know that

you are not forgotten.

--C.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

C: The Part of the Freeh Report I”m Not Buyin’

freeh report Good, job, Louis Freeh!  He was hired by Penn State to do an investigation, and he has not spared his employers.  Freeh has released the results of his Penn State investigation.  It seems that all the “higher ups” who knew that Jerry Sandusky was sexually molesting young children knew about it fourteen years.  Fourteen Years! Yes, Fourteen Years.fourteen

During those fourteen years, these fellas saw Sandusky most every day (Freeh said that Sandusky’s offices was “steps away” from Paterno’s office).  These tough guys stood by and watched as Sandusky was honored by politicians and service organizations for his wonderful work with youth (some awards recently rescinded), they attended sports banquets and functions with this man.

yuk I ask you: Could you so much as shaken his hand knowing that he was raping young boys?  Ewwwww—wouldn’t you have wanted to scrub up if you did? 

Could you have slept at night knowing that he had done such a thing and was daily being provided a fresh slate of young, innocent victims whose impoverished mothers were gratefully entrusting their young ones to this “great” icon in hopes of a better life for their child? 

It is, for sure, a scandal that a pedophile was on the prowl, but we know that they walk among us.  We recognize that these monsters exist.  The news alerts us to this.  The real scandal here is the circle of silence by seemingly responsible men in authority who allowed this to go on for fourteen years.  For what?

And, Freeh says in the report, they showed NO concern for these little victims.

paterno statute It is a given that Sandusky is a sicko; now the sickness of the entire Penn State staff is exposed, Paterno included.  (Yes, take the statue down; he is unworthy of any honor).

The one part of the Freeh report I disagree with is his conclusion that this cover up was done to protect the football program.  According to Freeh, these athletic/university leaders did not want to damage the lucrative football program at Penn State. 

Had they followed the law and blown the whistle on this guy, what could they have expected to lose? A couple of years set-back, maybe, by exposing a child molester among them? Penn State’s athletics program would have recovered in short order.

And, by the way, what is the price of their integrity if money is the reason?

If “protecting the program” was their goal, they surely knew that Sandusky was a ticking time bomb.  Since they decided not to do the moral thing have this guy arrested, then wouldn’t it have been better “protection” to just shuffle him off somewhere else (ala Catholic church) by firing him or forcing resignation?  Wouldn’t you have wanted to remove the looming threat if protection of the program was your goal?  Then when the bomb burst you might say you didn’t know when he was at Penn and, hopefully, it would be too long in the offing to be proven otherwise.

Nope.  I’m not buying the program protection story.  This was the Bro-Code in action, as I posted the other day.   This was men protecting one of their obrocodewn—their golfing buddy, their co-worker, one of their circle.  Some men will protect a brother no matter how sick he may be.

Men standing by, knowing of sexual sickness, watching him gather accolades and build his “charity” which turns out to be harvest ground for his perversion. 

Yes, they stood by -

Watching kids enter his clutches.

Knowing what he was doing.

Probably dreading that this would explode.  But, nevertheless,

Protecting.

But it was not the program they were protecting, it was a Brother.

You’ll never convince me otherwise.  C.

PS and I bet their wives knew nothing—I bet none of them went home and said, “Sandusky’s diddling kids…”  Is there a wife out there now looking at her Penn-State-Staff husband with new eyes, saying "You KNEW about this?" or, worse yet, "We let our boy go play over there!" Whaddaya think?

Monday, July 9, 2012

C: Virtuous Cycles

I have seen two news stories within the past twenty-four hougatesrs which have inspired me to write this post.  One was the interview of Melinda Gates (wife of Microsoft's Bill Gates).  The other was a news clip about the execution of a  woman in Afghanistan yesterday.

If I have a political-issue passion it is women’s issues.  I care about American women issues, but my real passion is global issues.  If you really look at things in depth, I think you will find that women are the class of people who are most deeply oppressed and against whom the most historically-sustained, egregious treatment is inflicted.  I believe it has been this way for a long, long, long, long, long time.  We American women have our challenges, but most of us never consider how our sisters across the world fare—much, much worse than do we.

If you are interested in this topic as every thinking/caringhalf the sky person should be (spoken like a true fanatic), then you might want to read Half the Sky by Nichols Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  This book examines the plight of women worldwide but also comes up with an amazing conclusion on the topic of third-world aid:  The very best way to elevate impoverished countries is to elevate their women.

This book examines how charitable/foreign aid programs have gone through phases. They have discovered that just giving money to these areas is not ever effective.  It changes little because it does nothing to end the cycle (when the money’s gone, the poverty is still there) and it often is used for all kinds of things unintended, never reaching its intended targets.

give a man a fish The idea of equipping the population instead of just giving them money was a better idea, based on the old proverb, “If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day; if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”  Still, the impact is not what one would want.

So, now policy makers have finally discovered that women are the key to helping society.  What they have found is that if you improve women’s plights, those women, in turn, improve the plights of their children and their entire community.  If you give a woman some means, usually she will send her kids to school, take care of her neighbor and just generally improve life around her.  Here’s a quote from the book summing up this theme:

It's no accident that the countries that have enjoyed an economic take off have been those that educated girls

Notwithstanding the fact that women are the prime “do-gooders” of the world, they are frequently devalued, and the stories and statistics contained Half the Sky will shock your American minds…you need to know them.  I will put a few quotes from the book at the end if you are interested after this post.

Now, on to Melinda Gates.  She and her husband have the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which does tons of good worldwide in trying to solve global poverty issues.  They havegates foundation been especially known for research in AIDS and malaria preventions, seeing these diseases as major deterrents to moving out of poverty.

But Melinda has put a new issue on her front burner.  She was in a village in Africa speaking with women there when one woman said to her “I just wish I could bring all good things to my child before having another.”  Melinda says it hit her like a ton of bricks: these woman produce child after child in a world where they cannot adequately take care of them, and they have no control over this process. 

She looked around at women barely making it with eight children.  She decided that giving these women the right to plan their families is an important thing and she is pushing funding for birth control programs.  She is at a summit this week to try to convince world leaders in these areas to fund birth control programs.

Boy, is she meeting resistance. 

Some of it is right here at home.

Melinda is a practicing Catholic, and her own bishop has denounced her plans, saying that this would be contrary to God’s law.  Melinda was so gracious to say that one does not have to agree with leadership on every point in order to love her church.  She is sticking to her guns because she says that in every area where women receive some power, it elevates her community.  She believes she is doing the right thing.

Melinda refers to an economic theory term to describe what happens when you elevate women in a society.  She calls it a “Virtuous Cycle” of giving, explaining, as do the authors of Half the Sky, that women participate in a cycle of giving if they are given the chance.

I admire Melinda.

And, so, as I thought about this post, onto the television screen comes the other news item of my day: A young Afghan woman was, allegedly, “involved” with two Afghan military officers.  A “love triangle” the news reporter called it.  Here’s what I’m not understanding, but it is what the report said, “They [the officers?] accused her of adultery.”  Of course, that means she must be killed.burka

She was executed by nine gun shots –still dressed in her head-t0-toe burka—while a big all-male crowd stood around and cheered, clapped and laughed!  I am aghast at these animals.  Is she worth nothing that the loss of her life—whatever her guilt may be—is not a sobering and quiet event? 

No, the truth is that her life was nothing, and her death was mere sport to these men.

By the way, last time I checked, it took at least two to commit adultery—where were the men participants?  Why weren’t they dragged out and shot amidst cheering?

Sometimes I just have to think we are the superior gender.  Sorry, it’s just where I am today.  C

PS – if you’ve stuck with me this far, thanks.  Here are some sobering statistics and thoughts from Half the Sky:

  • More girls were killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men killed in all the wars in the 20th century.
  • The equivalent of 5 jumbo jets worth of women die in labor each day...
  • Surveys suggest that about one third of all women worldwide face beatings in the home. Women aged fifteen through forty-four are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined. A major study by the World Health Organization found that in most countries, between 30 percent and 60 percent of women had experienced physical or sexual violence by a husband or boyfriend.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

C: Spilt Beans

beans1 If you’ve followed this blog for long, you will know that my husband of (then) thirty-six years left me and our entire family for a twenty-nine-year old.  You know, too, that it was a shock that this seemingly-perfect husband, elder of church, fine-upstanding-citizen would do such a thing. It was not only a shock to our family but to all who knew us….seemingly for a while…but now it appears not so much.

Please indulge me with generalities here…I know there are exceptions to any generalizing.

I have heard of the “bro [brother[ code.”  What I have brocode read in my attempts to understand the adultery dynamic is this: Men do not generally squeal on one another in the area of marital infidelity.  Men who are close to their wives—who confide everything else—generally will not tell wives if a male friend is cheating because we women do tell as a rule.  Telling her would violate the Bro-Code.

The literature (yes, real literature from social scientists) tells us that your girlfriends whose husbands are friends with yours are not a good barometer of what is going on with a cheating husband because the wives don’t know. 

And so it has played out in my own life.

There is a couple who are exceptionally good friends to me.  They have been subeans2pportive of me and hurt by my husband.  It has been a rough road  that we have traveled emotionally in tandem.  This man was my husband’s dearest friend.  We did a lot as couples and for decades shared joys and heartbreaks of children and life. 

The wife called me over for an impromptu dinner the other night.  Her husband was gone, so we had a girls-only simple dinner and a couple glasses of wine (which is likely key here).  I love those times.

I avoid bringing my ex up to them because I do not want to be the clanging cymbal…but ex invariably comes up in the conversation whencymbal it’s just them and me.  He has hurt them deeply, and we end up talking about him at their instigation.  Fine with me—I just don’t want to be the instigator.

This night it began with her question: “C, did you ever suspect in years past that he was cheating?  Did you have any feeling about that at all?”

I answered truthfully that I had no such suspicions.  My husband had been exemplary; a spiritual leader in our home and in our church, a loving father, an attentive husband.  I trusted him totally and never saw a reason why I should not—right up until the day I discovered his affair.

And then the beans spilled.  My friend told me that she had only recently found out from her husband that mine had an affair about fifteen years ago.  To make matters worse, it wasbeans3 a young employee of ours—a twenty-year-old member of our church. 

I remember this young girl well.  I recall that she worked for my husband for a very short time and he found her work ethic to be  “unsatisfactory.”  I remember discussions with him that it was difficult to fire someone from our church.  I had thought she was just not suited for the job and knew he would let her down easily because he was such a kind person.  She was let go (or quit—who knows?) and stopped coming the church altogether.  I remember feeling badly that because she did not work out at the job, it caused her to give up our church altogether.

Now I see there was more to it than that.

Despicable.

I have to tell you that I am shocked.  But not at my husband—these last several years I came to grips with the fact that I probably never knew him, so radically did his recent behavior differ from what I had thought I knew about him.  No, the shock was about my friend.

My friend’s husband is my close friend, too—always has secret been.  Why would he have tolerated this kind of behavior? 

The Bro-Code in action.

It is a lesson for me but, since my damage has been done and I am essentially looking in the rear-view mirror, it is a more important message for those reading this post.  Let me share with you what I have learned through my ordeal:

  • You do not know another person.  Sorry, you just don’t, no matter what you think you know.  I know of no other couples any closer than my husband and I were.  My friend and her husband, for that matter, have been close.  I never knew my husband, apparently.  And, apparently, she never knew hers. This cannot be coincidence—that both of us wives (both intelligent, graduate-level professionals) have been duped into believing that our husbands were truthful and forthcoming when this is not the case.
  • Your male friends will not tell you if your husband cheats in most cases.  Those of you who can give me examples of an exception to this rule, feel free because I’m feeling very distrustful of the male gender.
  • Your girlfriends won’t tell you if your husband cheats because they won’t know.  Their otherwise truthful husbands will keep this from them.  My girlfriend in this case, true to what is suggested by the literature, told me this news as soon as she knew it.  Yes, we spill the beans, us girls.

I have reflected on what my friend’s decades-long silence has meant to me in real, practical terms.  Had I known fifteen years ago what I was married to, I might have (hopefully WOULD have) made different decisions. I would have had far-and-away more time to recoup financially than I do now at this much-later age.

So, the damage to me by his honoring this bro-code is real.  The silence may have cost me a great deal of financial security in my old age.

Now, moving off self-interest here, let’s talk aboelmerut this young twenty-year-old.  She was adult, and could have said “no,” but look at it this way: My husband appeared to be very successful.  He was popular and an elder in her church.  Believe me, he is a charmer.  My view is that he was predatory.   Brings to mind Elmer Gantry, doesn’t it?

But, beyond this, our friend was a leader in the church, too.  If an elder went awry and took advantage and this man knew about, it is he complicit?  In my view, yes.  He had a duty to many to call my husband out on his behavior.  And, if it was too late to intervene and prevent this young girl from being takenwolf_in_sheeps_clothing1 advantage of by a smooth older man, then at least he had a duty to report the transgression. 

My husband had no business in church leadership.   But this “friend’s” silence allowed him to go on almost another twenty years in a position of trust and authority when his evil proclivities were known.  A cheater in church leadership.  A proven wolf in sheep’s clothing—and preying on the flock.

Speaking of damage done by the Bro-Code, what more illustration do you need than the male-circle that surrounded Jerry Sandusky and allowed decades of sexual abuse of young children placed in his care?  This week news of e mails at Penn State indicate that there was much “chat” by the males in the athletic department about how to “humanely handle” the Sandusky problem. 

Humane?  For whom?  While they were dithering over this Bro-Code issue, young boys were being raped.  I submit to you that the only humane thing would have been to stop this monster—Sandusky was due no mercy, given what he was doing.  But he was extended this by the Bro-Code, which let him continue to rape.secret no

I hope Penn State has to pay through the nose.   Those guys are responsible for the rape of innocent children.

And to those men out there who may read this post, know this:

The bro-code is not nice when it works like this.”  C.

 

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