About Me

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Douglas, Alaska, United States
I have lived in Alaska since 1978, having come to Juneau as a Jesuit Volunteer. I fell in love with Alaska and now live on Douglas Island with my husband and two dogs.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Really Matters

Election Coverage Brings 4-Year-Old to Tears

How many of you have been feeling like THIS lately?

Me too!  I am SO glad that it is over.

I have certainly found out that politics brings out the worst in people!  I have seen such hateful and extreme rhetoric on Facebook and on various blogs in the past few months, weeks, and even today, AFTER the election.  And not just by people who voted differently than I did.

It is so important to remember that we are all one nation.  Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green...it doesn't matter.  What matters, as I said to a fellow blogger and Facebook friend, is relationships.

Charles was in California these past 10 days to be with his family.  His Dad fell ill and was hospitalized a week ago Saturday.  Charles flew down that evening, overnighted in Seattle and was at his Dad's side at the hospital on Sunday morning.  Thank God we were able to afford a sudden plane ticket.  Charles was all set to come home after a week, but his Dad had a little setback on Saturday, so we changed his ticket until he could be reassured that all was well.  We are grateful for the doctors and hospital staff who cared for him, and grateful that he felt well enough to go to the polls and vote, along with Charles' Mom.

View up Franklin Street in downtown Juneau as Capital City Fire/Rescue personnel work on a fire at the Gastineau Apartments at the corner of Franklin and Front Street on Monday.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Photo: Michael Penn/Juneau Empire

On Monday night, a fire broke out in a low income housing building in downtown Juneau.  Thank God, there were no fatalities (except for a pet cat), and the injuries were minor.  All the residents were able to get out of the four-story building safely.  The air in downtown Juneau was thick with gray, toxic smoke.  I was heading to a restaurant downtown to meet a friend for dinner before choir rehearsal (I'm singing with the Bach Society).  As I got closer to downtown, I noticed how hazy it was, and as I got even closer, it was apparent that there was a major fire close by.  I parked and asked a passerby where the fire was and she told me, "The Gastineau Apartments".  My heart sank.  It is home to 50 low income, disabled and elderly tenants.  I proceeded to the restaurant for dinner and at the end of our meal, the power went out. The Fire Department had cut power so they could safely use water on the fire.  I ended up going home - just the 20 minutes that I had been outside in the smoke made me so congested and wheezy, I knew I couldn't sing at rehearsal that night.

The Red Cross set up a temporary shelter for the displaced tenants, and for the guests at the nearby Baranof Hotel, who also had to be evacuated.  The building tenants will have a difficult time finding new low cost housing.  The Gastineau Apartments were pretty shabby and run down, but as I told someone, even a sub-standard home is better than no home at all.

Our small town is rallying to help these folks.  Donations of funds, clothing and other items are pouring in for the victims of the fire.  A local movie theater is having a movie marathon to raise funds.  Local restaurants are giving them free meals.  Nobody cares what political party anyone belongs to in this situation.

So, you see, in the end, the things that make us different are less important than the things we have in common, especially those of us who share a common faith. 

Our faith in a loving, wise, just and merciful God.   Our families.  Our friends.  Our health.  Our homes.  Our communities.  These are the things that matter.  

In the days ahead, if you find yourself in a debate with someone over the outcome of the election, don't get sucked in.  Don't succumb to the temptation to hammer your point home.  It never works, and it could damage an important relationship.  Unfortunately, civil discourse appears to have gone the way of the eight track tape.  It seems to have disappeared from print, broadcast and online media.  Don't contribute to the decline of the polite conversation, especially in your homes and with your friends.  Appreciate our similarities, and pray for those who have different views.

Charles is home now, there is a fire in the wood stove, the skies are clearing, and it is time to start preparing for a busy weekend and week ahead.

And I am grateful.


  1. Lovely Paula. And I would love to hear more about your choir!

    1. Allison - there are numerous opportunities for choral singers here in Juneau! The Bach Society, the Juneau Lyric Opera, the Juneau Symphony Chorus...it is so fun!

  2. Those poor dear elderly people! I hope that the wonderful compassion endures beyond the first days. They will need new homes when the crisis is over.
    As for political conversation, it's possible to discuss it with selected people who care enough about you to listen to your point of view, especially if you are careful to use "I" statements instead of global ones. But it is a challenge.
    May God direct these next four years to bring out the good, as happened when everyone rallied to the help of the fire victims...

  3. Paula
    I'm sorry to hear of those people losing their homes. There are so many people hurting right now.
    I have found there was so much hatefulness in this past election time. I do understand such strong feeling about it. But it is over now and we must move on.

  4. Hello, Paula! I couldn't agree more. Thank you for putting it all into perspective.

    How sad for all the tenants displaced by the fire.

    And I hope that your father-in-law is feeling much better.

    I'm glad you enjoyed our raccoon visitors :)


  5. oops, my comment got eaten, i think.

    i like your attitude. we need to work together as people, not parties. i am ready to support our leader, no matter what party, if he is a good man.

    yes, my relatives live in juneau. francis and linda kadrlik. she is a retired school teacher and he used to work construction. they run a charter business (adventures afloat) and do some commercial salmon fishing, still, i think. my brother is a stubborn former wisconsinite with beautiful blue eyes. linda is a pure delight, a frontierwoman at her finest, with a soul as big as alaska. i do not see them often (last time was at our mother's funeral 7 yrs ago). they get back to wisconsin more often than i do, actually.

  6. Very true, the bible tells us to pray for our leaders. Despite our difference, we have to pray for God'smercy on this nation and people that are hurting because of Harricane sandy. Thank you for stopping by and commenting on my Hoagie buns.

  7. these are the things that put everything
    into perspective. i was sad after the
    election, too, but life goes on and the
    Giver of life is still on the throne.


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