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Thorn Bushes Have Roses


Candace has lived through two major eras of American history and is now immersed in a third, as she also begins her third stage of life and looks ahead into her senior years.  Her early years mirror the myopia of a culture emerging from a world war, wishing for nothing more than to go home each night and shut the door on horrors, ugliness, pain and poverty. She was one of those shut out.  She writes about this dark time in American history as she experienced it, with its rigid caste system, discrimination and blindness to the needs of women, minorities, the mentally ill, the disabled, the elderly, and people of color.  She writes of her experiences of rape, battering, disability, victimization, discrimination, of being shunned, as she lived as an outcast, labeled, treated and stigmatized as mentally retarded and socially retarded, disabled and a minority.

In the second era, America was forced to open its eyes.  This was the era of civil rights for women, races, persons with disabilities.  In this time, she grabbed every opportunity to transform her life, grateful for all new federal laws and Supreme Court rulings that allowed her to work to prove her worth.  She went from homelessness without even a G.E.D., to being a full professor and department chair, from powerlessness to activism and community leadership, accepting the responsibilities inherent in being a citizen, actively seeking to transform and prevent crises for other citizens.  She drew upon inner spiritual strength as well as the wisdom and teachings of so many who led the way, as she recreated her own life. 

Having been battered and raped, both as a child and an adult, now, as a retired full professor, she emerges as a teacher of incarcerated felons, some guilty of sexual offenses, helping them to transform their lives and to see their innate value and goodness that their past cannot erase, as she calls them to personal responsibility for the remainder of their days, whether incarcerated or not.

Candace now enters her senior years, once again struggling to not become an ignored outcast, as ageism is alive and well in American society.  As she struggles for herself, she advocates for others.  She actively works on multiple councils of state government and is running for state representative to the legislature this year.  Through all her endeavors, she shares, teaches, and models how to transcend victimization and find strength to endure and live a path to a better live.

She is grateful for the gifts and opportunities made available to her and others in the second era, while clearly challenging each of us to look forward and inward to expand our vision and actions for all Americans and the world.  What will become of the vulnerable peoples in this third period of our culture which has become increasingly individualistic?  Will we, as individuals and as a society, return to the spiritual and cultural myopia of her childhood, wherein people cared only for themselves and their friends and otherwise shut doors at night, shutting out hunger, pain, poverty and suffering or will we advance the legacy of the more humane and ethical era of the twentieth century and open our hearts and our doors to continue to advance as social and spiritual beings?

Candace believes there are only two races of human beings, humankind and human-unkind.  She asks who we are on a daily basis…and calls upon us to remember that we have an inborn ability to create, through the way we live,  both our own lives and in the world around us.  What will we create? What will be our legacy?  Will the thorn bushes from which our society emerged, bloom more roses for its citizens and the world, or only for those not outcast by age, race, gender, and disability once again?