Joyce’s Book Blog

Across that Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America by John Lewis

Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why.’ I dream that never were and say ‘Why not?’ — Robert Kennedy

John Lewis, a staunch civil rights leader and a United States Congressman (D-Ga.) opens his new  book with Kennedy’s quote. No doubt that Lewis is a man who asks why not? Why not a safer, more cultural diversity, more respect for humanity and opinions, more equality, more equal justice.

Without harsh attacks on America’s conscious or unconscious lapses, Rep. Lewis with moral courage has tackled voting rights abdication and gun control inaction with the fervor of a poet in a poetic mood and with gymnastics energy, but he’s a methodical stepper with all-night Congressional sit ins for gun regulations, campaigns for change candidates, champion for voting rights restoration and for the ballot box as a schematic to continue progress in civil rights.

“Across the Bridge” is a strong, clever, and catchy title — lyrical symbolism for the Selma, Ala., march five decades ago. This book defines Lewis as a literary voice of reason: “Dreamers young and ever young” must avoid getting “lost in a sea of despair.” With urgency, the incomparable Rep. Lewis, implores the next generation to never give up and to never lose focus on the tenets of humanity: freedom, justice, and equality. It’s a phenomenal visit to values and principles for a civilized nation and democracy.

As a civil rights foot soldier, Lewis paid the ultimate penalty in the battle when  police beat him to a heartbeat from death. He was not alone, and uncounted spirits of warring, lost souls left footprints on hollowed ground and imprints that led a nation from civil unrest and oppression to dignity, civility, and human rights. (The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., slain civil rights leader)

And this surviving rights advocate and U. S. House member still accepts that nonviolence ranks at Mount Rushmore height above a worrisome time of violence. There’s gratitude that comforts us though “Across the Bridge” is a clarion call for caution, and concern for complacency about where we stands when negative signs deny a post-racial nation.

Lewis wrote, “One movement will never offer all the growth humanity needs to experience. To expect so is to build your hopes on a puff of smoke, on a whispered breath; it is … an illusion.” Indignation for the unexpected or, just plain o’ bad behavior run rampant.When a U. S. House member called President Obama a liar at the State of Union address, Lewis was appalled, discouraged, and disturbed, saying it was “probably the lowest point of decorum I’ve seen in more than 20 years in Congress.”

“Across the Bridge” isn’t an in-depth history of the past civil unrest but acknowledges a chaotic world from intentional and unintentional misgivings. One critique that stands above the rest is Trump’s rhetoric to “Make America Great Again” that some political analysts bluntly encode as “Make America White,” but Lewis thinks: “It was as though diversity has damaged not uplifted our civilization.”

“Across the Bridge” calls for change with bold lessons for freedom and meditations in the next phase toward progress of a nation at the cross road — all worthwhile and necessary reading and a blueprint for these unsettling days. It’s rated four stars.


“I Pray You Enjoy Your Retirement”

#PollPower I pray NRA-backed politicians become ordinary citizens, job holders, hobbyists, travelers. What they do is their own business, but without those seats, their fundamental power and control would rot like a prune — in most cases. They’ll escape the rath of justice, but a survivor of Pulse Nightclub said: “I pray you enjoy your retirement.”

#NeverAgain Students at Stoneman Douglas High School, but, make no mistake, where 17 died in a massacre, turned their anger and pain against weapons of war and a push for school safety. These Parkland, Fla., students targeted power at the polls. “Vote them out,” students yell at legislators in Tallahassee, Fla.

School shootings and gun violence in the nation are epidemic with the highest gun violence in the world. But @realDonaldTrump called for arming teachers, most of whom are women, and teachers’ primary responsibility is to educate students. I lived and worked as a journalist in Broward County, and I cannot imagine teachers packing heat, and I would not send my child there. The endless dangers of this controversial scenario stand high above any imaginary benefits.

“Teachers are here to educate students,” said David Hogg, a senior and an activist leader. “They (gun lobby and politicians) want people to forget this happened.” He stressed that this is not a partisan issue.

The thought of teachers packing add to mourning fearful teens, teachers, and parents have another level of inepitude that doubles, and it sidesteps what schools and the community can expect from responsible politicians. Douglas protestors eloquently stated that these politicians supported by the National Rifle Association choose “money over our lives.”

Trump said he backs stronger background checks, although his 2019 budget proposal would slash the background check system by $12 million for states to improve comprehensive background checks. That plummets from $73 million to $61 million. Students are leery about their government’s priority, and rightfully so. And a bill for comprehensive background checks is stalled in Congress where House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remain suspiciously quiet.

Congress has duties to act and power from the second arm of three separate powers in a Democracy. Gun supporters rabidly protest stricter gun laws, citing Second Amendment rights. Hogg, a young journalist, told TV journalists that absolutists refuse to realize that there can be limits in the First Amendment.

“You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater,” he said. Keeping guns out of wrong hands could bring freedom from fear and safer schools and communities across socio-economic backgrounds, race and ethnicity, gender and ages.