Carnes: Have we all gone mad? Featured

The Mullis Center was conceived as a gift to the community. A gathering place. A chance for the board formed of those at least 60 years old, to create an atmosphere where old and younger can share and dine amid the diversity found best in this best of all places-Friday Harbor. But madness has descended like a fog on the ferry making it difficult to see the scenery and arrive unscathed in this safe harbor.

Have we all gone mad? Where is the gentle art of giving thanks? Of honoring and giving respect? This is father’s day weekend. If we can remember our fathers, can we not honor our fatherland for which so many have given their lives? And their­­ fight was waged so that those who do not wish to remember the privilege they have here to dissent. They can abstain with silence or absent themselves while others pledge allegiance to our family, the United states of America, the great experiment in free thinking, liberty and justice to all.

Since the flag for the Mullis center seems to have disappeared, I brought one with me. I was mindful of my right to speak under the first amendment to our Constitution. And so, it was my honor and privilege to step up in front of an enthusiastic group of seniors who knew sacrifice, volunteered the best they had to give, and had joined to enjoy a feast for mind and body. And we practiced a tradition that had been within this gathering for 30 years: The tradition of speaking out for what we stand for. Together!

Like Alexander Hamilton said, “if you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything.” It was a case of join in the pledge if you wish to. And the room was filled with people who actively stood and spoke as one. So what is wrong with that?

But the police had been called in anticipation that this ritual might be “pulled off.” And I was cited and cannot return to the Center without an apology and a written promise to sin no more.

There once was a parable that spoke to knowing a tree by its fruit. What is happening at the Mullis Center is a win-lose (a bad tree with bitter fruit) and we want a win-win (a keeper tree with delicious fruit). We want tolerance for opposing views instead of banishing people that don’t agree out onto the street.

By way of explanation, on the way out with my citation, accompanied by a very nice police officer, I was asked if I would speak in a cultural offering at the Center, for I am an author/illustrator and have just written my fourth book. But of course, I cannot, for I am banned from this gathering place for leading the Pledge of Allegiance. The taste of that is hard to stomach.

A Board is supposed to represent the people in a democracy. I saw that day that the vast majority of people enjoyed the moment it took to actively remember their country before they sat together in a place that has been a sterling example of what this country stands for.

I don’t see that this principle should be compromised, and ask that this board reconsider, vote on this issue based on the will of the community they represent, or resign.

Susan Carnes

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