Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nine Eleven

We have met the enemy and he is us. Walt Kelly

This is a 911 emergency call.
I'm frightened.

My world is a world of words.
Text is important.
Words matter.
We are speaking a language of hate.

Hate seems to be everywhere.
Intolerance is on the rise.
Extremists of all kind dominate the news.

Many years ago in the eighties I was a part of movement called
Beyond War.
The principles of Beyond War were:
We are one.
I will resolve conflict.
I will not use violence.
I will not preoccupy myself with an enemy.
I will maintain a spirit of goodwill.
I will work with others to build a world
beyond war.

Beyond War principles changed my way of thinking.
I began to recognize that violence comes in many different forms - including our thoughts and our words.

The notion that "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me" is simply wrong.

The level of intolerance on display on this this ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks deeply disturbed me. Like so many Americans, I was relieved that the threat of the Koran burning was averted. This act would have been tantamount to the book burnings of the 1930's during the rise of Nazism in Germany.

A few years ago I participated in a program called
Bearing Witness.
Sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, this educational program is designed to promote
Catholic-Jewish dialogue.
It teaches educators about the history of anti-semitism and how the Holocaust emerged out of centuries of anti-Judaism.
One dive into the anti-Jewish propaganda, cartoons and artwork of the most hideous example of man's inhumanity to man provides a disturbing lesson for we Americans who cling to our 1st Amendment spouting justice for all, the land of the free and "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free."

The image of the ugly American is not limited to travelers abroad, refusing to speak a foreign language.
The ugly American is right here on our own soil.
It is time for us to rise to loftier ideals.
It is time to embrace nuance.
It is time to reject outright the hate mongering.
It is time to look in the mirror.

On this anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I hung my American flag.
I also hung a flag of the planet earth.

I refuse to allow narrow minded, hateful bigots to speak for me.
As Santayana wrote
Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

Dachau Concentration Camp was twenty minutes outside of Munich.

What are we refusing to see in our own backyards?

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I am thinking about the death of mothers today.

I am thinking about how long they go on
their men.

The old women
who once wore heels.
with cocktails and the occasional cigarette
who remember
for more years
than they can remember
what it was like
back then.

And their men
who escaped
the frailty
of old age
who live on
youthful and vigorous
as the day they dropped.
I am thinking about the death of mothers today.
And the love affair that lasts well beyond till death do you part.

I am thinking about the death of mothers today.
How their minds go.
And their looks.
And their heels.
And their control.

And how the daughters
are there when the morphine drip
and the breath slows
and the hand grows cold
and the head falls to the side.

How the daughters
usher them out
hold the memory
preserve the dignity
honor the legacy
remember the love affair
tell the story.