NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Friday November 22nd 2019

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Raise Your Voice: The world within us

By PETER MOLENAAR

Peter Molenaar

From the passenger side window of the adjacent vehicle, an elder Native man called out: “Hey! Where are you from?” At the time, I was fetching 30 Alley papers for deposit at the Native American Community Clinic, after having dropped 30 at the Ancient Traders Market. Detecting the sleight of hand humor, I quickly decided not to delineate my four original nations of northern Europe. So, I responded, “I grew up in Cannon Falls, Minn., if that’s what you mean.” Then to clarify, “It’s upstream from Prairie Island on the Cannon River.” In the span of about 15 seconds, the elder Ojibwe pondered the not-so-ancient conflict with the Dakota, then registered delight that a white man would place his origin relative to Native Americans.

Note: The “cannon” of Cannon Falls is an English mumble of the French word for canoe.

Then a Somali woman walked between us. He quipped, “What do you think of all the tents (!) around here?” My instant response: “Ho, friend, I am not a Trump supporter and you know what he wants to do.” He responded, “Yeah, send them back!” I countered to the effect: who will the frenzied white man turn on when he’s done doing that? My new friend thanked me and promised to carry the thought home.

Back to the task….

I was pressed because four days of distribution had been lost to a hospital bed at Abbott Northwestern. The doctors called it a “spontaneous” pneumothorax (bubble on the chest). Spontaneous? More likely, it was in consequence to 35 years of breathing silica dust at Smith Foundry.

Meditations….

First night: IV in left-hand vein, 10 inch tube in right upper chest (to suck out the bubble and reinflate lung), urinal on the floor (Oops!), call button dangling somewhere… an hour passed. Help! The tardy nurse knelt to her knees and was forever forgiven.

It is natural for a man to feel love for all his nurses. Moreover, for a retired industrial worker, it was natural to be respectful and uplifting to the entire cast. True, to my eye, it was unusual to experience such as stratified workforce (with separate unions for the various classifications). Nonetheless, what a splendid privilege to be served by all races and peoples from all over the world.

From each according to their ability, to each according to their work (not a “nation” where 60% of all wealth is inherited)… such is the socialist principle.

Speaking of the alluded to industrial form of unionism (one union under the roof), the United Steelworkers of America recently held their civil rights conference here. Founded in no small measure by the “Reds”, this union’s doors were open from the get-go to anyone willing to work. The Black/Brown/White formation included a pink-haired couple holding hands. We all marched from the Marriott Hotel to City Hall, chanting “Immigrants are welcome here!” and singing new words to some childhood melody: We will change the world forever, and ever, and ever.

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