Guest Post: Paulette Mahurin (The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap)

I have had a chance to interact with some really great people in the blogging world and author Paulette Mahurin is one of those.

Paulette Mahurin is a nurse practitioner, specializing in
women’s health in a rural clinic in where she lives with her husband and two
rescued dogs. She also taught in several college level nursing programs,
including UCLA, where she had a Master’s Degree in Nursing from their nurse
practitioner program. Her two passions are writing and rescuing dogs.While in
college she wrote and published two award winning non-fiction short stories.

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap is set in a small Nevada town which has just received the news of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment. It is the story of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating
consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing.

All profits go Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center,
Ventura County, CA. (the first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura
County). For more info contact the author through Facebook. Buy a book; save a

Paulette has agreed to feature here her wonderful article on tolerance.
Go ahead and read it!

First let me give a big heartfelt thank you to Priya, for
asking me back to your great blog site. I’m thrilled to be here with you, my
friend, thousands of miles away in geography but close at heart. When I mention
this heart connection I think of all the distance that exists between neighbors
living next door to each other, or perhaps even in the same home, when they
don’t possess this openness of spirit. So Priya, I dedicate this to you, in
India, and all our good friends who might stop by to comment, or share, in the
name of tolerance, in the name of our hearts opening, that we may know a more
harmony in this world.

I write so much about tolerance, the theme of my book, The
Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, but when I look at it, I don’t even know that I
fully understand what it is. Do I really understand the mechanism of bullying
another, putting another down because of their nature, the color of their skin,
their sexual preference, their religious beliefs, how they dress, you name it,
so many possibilities, so many differences that one could pick apart in the
other? Am I above all of it because I can talk about tolerance, write about it,
or am I just like Jose, the evil antagonist in my story, who finds fault with
everything Mildred Dunlap does? I think there’s a little, maybe even a lot, of
Josie in all of us. Reminds me of a quote from Jesus, he who is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone… (John
8:7, New American Standard Bible).
Carl Jung wrote about our dark side, he called it our
shadow. Rumi, the poet, wrote that when
the totality that I am and my humanness meld, and then I am whole
. Sri
Nisargadatta Maharaj wrote in his epic spiritual prose on non-dualistic existence
I Am That, and I paraphrase, “I am the space in which my mind and body
Then there’s Krishnamurti who wrote, the thought is not the thing, which is reminiscent of Descartes, I think therefore I am. One of the most
fundamental spiritual questions, when in a deep introspective meditation is, who am I?  Masters through the ages have pondered these
questions. Joseph Campbell in his famous talks on religion with Bill Moyer,
brings up a fundamental fact that what all religions have in common is their
mysticism, what Einstein called that point when reality becomes philosophy, the
point where nothing can be known.
From the perspective of these brilliant thinkers, past
leaders of all religious faiths, people of Letters, of education, and the
common man or woman who ponders life and the mysteries that abound; when I look
at anything from this perspective I can say for sure that the only truth I can
claim for certain is change, that nothing else seems certain but change. What
does all this have to do with hatred, intolerance?
If the greatest thinkers, who ever lived, are still alive,
and who have yet to be born, can’t answer any of these questions, then how the
hell can say we understand a thing about our very nature? If everything is a
mystery, from the mystery of the source that creates it all, than how can one
thing be bad and another good? How can something different be anything other
than simply different? Why is the fact that Mildred Dunlap is a lesbian a bad
thing, in the eyes of a homophobic? How come she isn’t just someone different
than the person judging? When do we stop seeing differences and see judgments?
And, why do we human beings robotically buy into what our parents said, what
their parents said, and not learn to use our minds to think things through,
instead of our minds dictating irrationality, based on belief, programmed
learning, conditioning?
I’m not knocking conditioning; it’s another human facet,
trait, but then why can’t I just see it for what it is? Underneath all my
thoughts, my thinking, my monkey crazy 
mind that goes on automatic habitual thinking, my belief systems, under
all this, in that quiet God space where life finds harmony, what is? There’s
that quiet ,and yet all the other. Both existing together, both interweaving,
erupting, without provocation or cause, just doing its thing.
What I’m trying to say is, I’m human. We all are and we all
do this. We judge yet come out with ridiculous statements like, I don’t judge, I’m not judgmental, then
we spew out, okay I spew out, things that are so judgmental and when I’m called
on it, I defend why I’m not doing it. In writing this book, I saw a lot of this
in myself, especially while writing about Josie, the hate filled rumor
mongering bitch, who can’t keep her mouth shut, and what comes out of it is
ignorant babble. I also see myself in Gus, the voice of tolerance and wisdom, I
see how I want to open more, be more accepting, love more, and I also see how
that is selfish because in opening I feel better, more alive.
When I started researching my book, the inspiration for the
driving force of the story line, Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment, was always near at
heart. He was my reminder, my metaphor, of the injustice of intolerance, all
housed in beliefs, in laws, in narrow mindedness, all with roots of hatred for
what is, another’s nature, that can no more change than a dog can not wag its
tail. If we are to believe that God created all under the heavens and sun, then
how could it be that there are creations that just aren’t right, not okay, less
than human? Seems to me, this has to stem from some culturally based false
belief, that gets passed down lifetimes after lifetimes, so by the time I’m
into that belief, it feels real to me. Reality is created by thoughts, beliefs,
and world viewpoints. If I think that guy likes me and fantasize over how I
know he wants me, a reality is created inside of me. The brain doesn’t really
know the difference between a thought and what’s actually happening, it
secretes its chemicals, creating emotions, and man that is real. I believe I’m being
rejected and it feels bad. That’s real and I’m feeling it.
If I believed Oscar Wilde was evil, or wrong, or acting
illegally because he was a Gay man, then my mind is going to work it out to
make it seems so. But what about what is accurate? Who among us would
want to be prevented from loving? From intimacy, from the one we love? No one.
It’s one of the most basic human needs from time and memorial, right along with
our need to eat, drink, breathe, and if we had a switch or choice why would we
chose devastation, humiliation, labeling that puts us in
jail and kills? This has been the debate over sexual preference for decades, is
it nature or nurture? The abundant view is nature. And, with this I agree. I
agree and feel that Oscar Wilde did what came naturally, and in doing so,
acting through what he could no more prevent than can a leaf from taking in
carbon dioxide to survive, an ice cube melting in the sun, a fire’s warmth, all
things of nature, and so what’s left is my fundamental question, can I tolerate
it? Can I accept what is, see my insides resisting and wanting to change it,
and breathe in a new possibility, that it is different, and I’m okay with
different, because different is not bad, it’s just different. After all, aren’t
we all different? | Amazon UK | Goodreads | Shelfari | FacebookTwitter |

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The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the author.

Gus looked over at the
stacks of books. “That’s why I read so much. A book isn’t going to hurt me. A
book isn’t going to form some opinion about me that could wreck my life. I
learn about so many new and great things from reading. I keep to myself with a
good book and a shot of whiskey and I’m right with the world.”

About the author: The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap is written by author Paulette Mahurin, who is
a Nurse Practitioner and lives in Ojai, California. She practices women’s health in a rural
clinic and writes in her spare time. The book was published in March 2012.

Summary: The story takes place in a small town in Nevada, right after Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted and homosexuality was declared to be a crime. Mildred and Edra are two women who love each other and want to live together. To prevent the townspeople from dragging them to a similarly horrible fate, they devise a plan to keep their relationship a secret. When Mildred, who has always been treated badly by the townsfolk, suddenly begins to show interest in Charley, a widower, they become the latest piece of hateful gossip and rumours. The book goes on to show us the disastrous consequences of prejudice and illogical hatred.

“He was frustrated by the ignorance he saw all around him, the lack of compassion and understanding, even worse the complete poverty of any comprehension that a poison lived inside these individuals and as long as they kept pointing fingers and saw their hatred outside of themselves, nothing would come but destruction.”

My thoughts: As soon as I got the book, I sat glued to my computer and finished reading it by the time it was absolutely necessary for me to go eat something. It’s been a long time since I read a book in one sitting. This is a very involving story that just draws you in completely and keeps you on the edge of your seat, eager to find out what happens next. It is a short but powerful read that manages to convey a lot of meaning in so few pages.

The characterization is brilliant. There were times when I felt like kicking some of the nosy characters myself and realized how effectively the writer had brought that feeling out in me. I love how the author has conveyed the most important messages, that sense of helplessness in the victims through dialogue between the characters instead of describing it. Being a huge Oscar Wilde fan, I found the discussions about his conviction especially touching and the way people were against him, especially irritating. Not to mention, the quotes by Wilde at the start of every chapter were wonderful.

Though the book is set in 1895, it is painfully relevant even today. This story ends on a relatively happy note, but it is crushing to think that most cases of oppression don’t end all that well. The story presents all the different clashing points of view (in a biased fashion, maybe), but the point, for me, was not to show what is right and wrong. What the book suggests is to think before forming opinions, to honestly question your beliefs.

I would have liked it better if the back-stories of the characters were revealed in a less abrupt way and the author hadn’t kept switching the narration back and forth in time – these things were noticeable while reading the first half of the book, but once I got to the very end, they didn’t really matter much. Some books just deserve to be read by everyone, and this is one of those!

You can buy the book here, and also visit the Facebook page for more information.

I’ll leave you with another wonderful idea to chew on, since the book has so many of those.

How I was raised is
irrelevant. It’s how I feel now. What do I believe now? What has experience
taught me? Have I used my head to look for myself? Or am I a puppet to someone
else’s ideas?