“We See No White-Winged Angels Now…”
But We See Little Children

Nearly six decades ago, I stood in front of Mrs. Davis either before or after school to recite poems or prose that I had memorized. Everyone had to memorize several hundred lines of poetry or prose each year. I hated that academic task while in high school. The only socially redeeming aspect of that memorization task was that we could pick our own choices of prose or poetry.

What I considered a curse over a half century ago, it is the single most important thing that I learned while going to school in Mt. Lebanon. When entered the adult world after college and graduate school, there has never been a day that some passage that I had picked long-ago floats into my consciousness. Sometimes, those memories were just a fleeting moment, but there were other times that I used them in my life and even wrote about them.

My favorite passage is a paragraph from George Eliot’s novella, Silas Marner. This is especially true as I am getting closer and closer to my eighth birthday. Interestingly, the novella was published in 1861 exactly a century before I stood in front of Mrs. Davis at Mt. Lebanon High School and recited this paragraph from Silas Marner.

In old days there were angels who came and took men by the hand and led them away from the city of destruction. We see no white-winged angels now. But yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child's.

That paragraph is the basis for the transformation of Silas Marner who was a weaver in the village of Raveloe. Now, he became Eppie’s grandfather.

Eppie and Silas, her grandfather

Eppie, who was slightly more than a toddler, entered the life of Silas Marner. Silas Marner adopted her, and, in the process, both discovered a reason for there being. I know what the sheer joy that he felt when I met my Eppie. Initially, Ti Ti was my Eppie.

However, it wasn’t long before Ti Ti’s two younger sisters, Snow and Fatty, were included as my three Eppies. While they live in a country far, far away from me, they are in my heart all the time. This is what Ti Ti, Snow, and Fatty look like today.

It has taken me a long time to write this article. I pause and remember all the fun times that we have shared on my three visits to Myanmar. I also get choked up as I reminisce about how my Eppies have given to me what Silas’ Eppie gave to him.

Nevertheless, when I returned from Myanmar during winter break several months ago, America wasn’t what it is today. Trump’s total lack of leadership addressing COVID-19 has resulted in nearly 130,000 deaths in America as of end of June. Estimates of the number of Americans that will have died when COVID-19 has gone range from 1.2-1.7 million.

While we face the pandemic issue, America is also paying the bill for four centuries of racism. Whites brought slaves from Africa to work in the fields in the South. As a result, America’s Civil War cost 618,000 lives. The North won the war but lost the peace. Segregation and Jim Crow laws replaced slavery. A century after the Civil War, President Johnson was successful in getting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed by Congress. Nearly sixty years later, blacks are facing discrimination, beatings, and killings by white Americans. Nonetheless, we still have white vigilantes killing blacks like Ahmaud Arbery and white cops killing blacks like George Floyd.

…and the list goes on.

While we see no white-winged angels, but…