Monday Morning Musings:

“I imagine that one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

–James Baldwin


Today is Rosh Hashanah,

the start of the High Holy Days.

We say “Shanah Tova,”

and wish people a sweet year.

The weekend began with

the anniversary of 9/11.

Never forget.

As if we could.

Then caring for our grandpets.

Doggy kisses

and kitty purrs.

A party.

People with different jobs,



drinking and

playing volleyball.

No, not me.

I’ll just watch.

Having fun.


the beautiful evening.


The man with the hair

whips up hate.

Throughout history

demagogues have appeared.

He is merely the latest.

A little man

for all his wealth.

Seeking to rise by

finding a scapegoat–

as all demagogues do.

It is nothing new.

It’s their fault,

they declare.

You don’t have money,




It’s because of them.

Migrants, Jews,


People with black skin,

or yellow skin.

Educated people.

Illiterate people.



It doesn’t matter.

They are Others,

not one of us.

Nativists, Know Nothings, and Exclusion Acts—

We don’t want your kind.

“Give me your tired, your poor.”

Lady Liberty cries,

But not too tired, not too poor.

the followers yell.

We don’t want people who

look different.


none of that foreign talk here.

Speak English.

Wave a flag,

like a true patriot.

A clerk in Kentucky claims religious freedom by

denying others their rights.

Doesn’t she know that liberty

is inclusive,

not exclusive?

Hate does not win.

Hate brings more hate.

Hate combusts and burns

like the brushfires out west,

consuming everything it touches.





tame the flames,

to a warm glow,

enough to sit around,

enough to bake bread.

I baked challahs yesterday.

The kitchen smells

Of bread and memories.

And love, too.

“Bread and roses.”

Fuel for body

and soul.

Dip the apple in the honey.

Taste its sweetness.

It is everywhere.


It is all around you.

Can you see the sweetness

of life?


Just look.

Do you see it?

Can you look past the hate?

Can you see how beautiful

Our Earth is?


Wishing all of you peace and a sweet new year!

©Merril D. Smith

32 thoughts on “Sweetness

  1. ok, Shanah tovah… 🙂
    A couple of years ago I started my research on a book involving the sephardim of the 17th century, unfortunately never finished. But I did meet a lot of interesting people along the way who became very dear friends. Quite different from the Ashkenazim but essentially the same..
    I loved this post.. thank you for saying this.. I appreciate it. 🙂

      • Yes, I hope to, some day.. not very.. umm.. mobile.. these days.. and cannot really hold a pen in my hand and write like I used to.. of course, I can type well.. but not the same thing 🙂

        One day, soon.. I promise.. It is absolutely fascinating history, I agree.. In fact, until then I did not know much about the Sephardim.. it is wonderful that I met such good people too along the way. I am grateful for that, more than anything else.

  2. Beautiful sentiments, beautifully expressed. Thank you for a beautiful start to my week and an important reminder that when we point our finger at “them,” three others point back at us. Shanah tovah.

  3. My favorite lines: Education tame the flames,
    to a warm glow,
    enough to sit around,
    enough to bake bread.
    I baked challahs yesterday.
    The kitchen smells
    Of bread and memories.

    One caveat: Knowing what I know of religious conviction, I understand the plight of Kim Davis. She believes the First Amendment accords her religious freedom, yet the law decrees otherwise. Her stance is untenable though, and she must do as Judge Scalia (Washington Post) advises: Either comply with the recent Supreme Court ruling or find a new job.

    Nevertheless, life is sweetness even with our differences. Shanah tova! A sweet year to you and yours.

    • Thanks so much for chiming in here, Marian. We will have to agree to disagree on Kim Davis. To me, she is in effect imposing her religious views upon others and denying them their rights–thus actually going against the First Amendment.
      I wish you and yours a very sweet year!

  4. First thing I did after reading this, Merril, was to go find a fresh yellow apple from this year’s crop, wash it, slice it, and dip it into honey. Shanah tovah to you and yours, Merril.

    And I see the man with the hair, the clerk with the wrong idea of religious liberty, and the words inscribed on Lady Liberty exactly the way you do.

    Ooh that challah looks wonderful!

    • Oh my! Thanks for this, Shirley. I’ve been writing test items all day, and your comments made me chuckle and cheer. The challah was wonderful–I baked 6 yesterday, and I’ll probably bake a few more this week. (Our family dinner is next Saturday.) I hope you enjoyed your super fresh apple dipped in honey. Shanah Tovah to you and yours.

  5. Merril … Your challah looks yummy. If all could just taste that, maybe we would have a sweeter outcome and outlook. I agree that hate only breeds more hate. I’m wishing fervantly that the haters don’t win. They’ve had victories in the past that were rooted in hate as they blamed others for their troubles.

    I love your poem. You’ve created many powerful images.;-)

  6. Such at lovely post Merrill thank you and for reminding us of what is beautiful and valuable on our planet. Shanah Tovah to you and yours and a blessed New Year to all, peace be yours ..

  7. Merril, your words and meanings were incredibly powerful here and my stumblings here certainly don’t do you justice. I am deliberately avoiding coverage of the US elections as well as the revolving doors of Prime Ministers we’ve had here. Australia has had something like 5 Prime MInisters in five years (is it any wonder we’ve become jaded and cynical?!!) I personally can’t understand why there are so many barriers and divisions between people. We have so much in common and I’ve always been intrigued and captivated by other cultures and it’s such a wonderful thing for humanity to be such an incredible kaleidoscope.I had to look up what Shanah Tovah meant before I wished it to you. So, Shanah Tovah! Peace wbe with you! xx Rowena

    • Awwww. . . .thanks so much Rowena for your kind and thoughtful comments. I was stumbling about a bit myself.
      I imagine it would be difficult for someone outside of the US to fathom the weirdness of US national elections–the circus beginning so long before the actual event. I don’t understand it myself.
      I am so ignorant of Australian politics though. I knew the current PM was out, but I didn’t know you’d have so many in such a short time.
      Wishing you and yours a very sweet new year. We’re actually having our big family dinner on Saturday. 🙂

      • Enjoy your dinner and say hello from your Aussie mates. I* look forward to reading about your dinner and your menu. A sweet New Year to you too. Love & blessings, Rowena

  8. I know I’m a little late, but … Shanah Tova, Merril. Wishing you a sweet year, too. I like that — wishing people a sweet year — very much. Beautiful, beautiful post. 🙂

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