If change is one of our few constants, this week has me wondering if the guidebooks extraterrestrial tourists buy on their way in for a visit describe Earth as ‘a rock and a hard place‘.
The space between a rock and a hard place is unique geography.
One way or another, I know all about the mental wrestling matches waging when in such a spot. But one way or another, the decisions I’ve made to follow my heart have always been the ones which have turned out best. Yes, such decisions inevitably come with costs and burdens. But for me, the price has always paled against the longer view of benefit earned.
Time passes and things change. Though all is not yet said and done in the time I’ve spent living here on Earth, I can report that ‘change’ has been one of the few constants running through all of it. It does get better.
Music is an excellent example. The pathway to tunes has seen records move from 78’s to 45’s and then to stereophonic. But it didn’t stop there. Albums morphed into 8-track tapes and then, to cassettes. Next came CD’s and now? I can hold a 4-ounce device with an internal library of 1200 songs available for my listening pleasure anytime I want, anywhere I am. And if, by some fluke, there’s a song I don’t have? No problem. I can bring it down into my collection from a cloud in some electronic sky without using wires and all, for less than the price of a taco.
Similar connectivity has rocked the news business. We don’t have to wait for the morning newspaper. Now our cell phones can alert us to bombings, tsunamis and mayhem on the other side of the world in less time than it has taken me to pen these few words. But however instantaneous, it still begs the age old question of what do we do once we know thousands of innocents are in sudden need of food and water?
Weather changes all the time. But on that front, we haven’t yet figured out how to control it, but we’re trying. In the meantime, as the glaciers melt and the ozone burns off, a series of thunderstorms rumbled through Chicagoland last night and mugged my garden. Even before dawn, I could see dismembered stems and branches strewn across the space I go to find peace and quiet. What do I do? Same thing farmers have done for thousands of years.
The events in Syria, Egypt and so many other GPS coordinates across the Middle East clamor for my attention. Hours of talk rocket around the techno-air we breathe. Faceless voices are calling for war (Another one? Really?), missiles, sanctions and all manner of face-saving moves to protect our reputation on the playground of nations. I get it. Since WWI, we’ve wrestled with both the effects and ethics of chemical weapons like gas. But kill a 100,000 people with conventional weapons and we’re not so ‘outraged’. I’m still working on that one.
We, as Americans, have defended all kinds of people all around the world and done it for decades. Some of them actually seem to appreciate it.
But others who are not us are plagued by the same constraints of change, time and space.
Hezbollah has branded itself as the group that stands up for the little guy. And yet, they quietly attend funerals for people who want to kill us having aligned themselves with Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. In another ring of the same circus, Hezbollah is fighting with al qaeda for influence. Watching it all, I have not seen the Arab League rushing to anyone’s defense. This is reading like a bad Arkansas wedding right out of Li’l Abner. Not to be outdone, Iran loves selling oil to the very people they might target with the nuclear tipped missiles they say they don’t have. Russia, North Korea, Cuba, the Sudan and any number of players on the Asian Rim have their own issues (China being one of them). And the people of Haiti…remember them?
Here at Home, we’re not nearly as pompous in conducting our own affairs as we watch children die for nothing more than being in front of the wrong house at the wrong time. On the other end of the weapon involved, another faceless and disenfranchised kid pulls the trigger of his semi-automatic as just another normal step in the application process for jumping into gang membership.
On the national stage, Detroit joins a lengthening list of cities declaring bankruptcy. Chicago has closed more than 50 schools. Not surprising to any resident of the Jersey Shore, folks in New Orleans are still recovering from Katrina.
Across the Delaware river from Jersey, kids in Philadelphia are dodging bullets while George Zimmerman looks for a new handgun. Meanwhile, the kids at Sandy Hook Elementary still don’t have federal legislation for conducting universal background checks on buyers at gun shows. Movie-goers in Aurora think twice about going to a midnight show. Temple goers in Wisconsin notice the security now patrolling around their place of worship.
Seniors are losing their meals-on-wheels as the oil companies peer into the future and raise their prices now, in anticipation of the day when gas stations are obsolete. We may not yet have recharging stations for juicing our personal jet packs available on every corner, but when’s the last time you saw a chariot repair place?
Where do draw the line at taking care of our own first and then assisting others as we are able?
It’s such a simple sentence, but consider the consequences if everyone did it? There would be food to eat and high-speed rail to ride with so much Good Will left over no one would ever have to go hunting for him. But let me reel myself back in. In reviewing all the same beautiful bean footage ET and his friends have been watching since our founding as a planet, I don’t put much stock in that happening anytime soon.
Here’s the thing. Change is an essential ingredient if we are to survive and prosper. It is as baked into our world as our duality for good and evil is baked into our DNA. Shakespeare was filled with it…Othello, Merchant of Venice and all his other works – each written and performed around 1590-something in an England beset by political, religious and economic chaos at every hand. We see it still.
Today, I am grateful for a thoughtful president who knows he is just one man who must protect and defend all of us. I take some comfort in that, especially on the heels of one whose administration manufactured truth, squandered our treasure and never found the fabled weapons of mass destruction.
On the other hand, I am frustrated by others in government (uhumm…congress!) who seem hellbent on doing everything they can to do nothing as we Citizens watch our roads and bridges decay as quickly as school systems spend money without impacting our kids ability to learn. Who is going to be able to read the blueprints for the new bridge or water system if there isn’t anyone to do the math intrinsic in planning them?
Change? Not hardly.
The Aliens have the luxury of buzzing around our Planet as if it were some of kind of safari park. They see our beauty as surely as they witness our skill in finding new and improved ways to kill each other. It’s been that way since the time of Cain and Abel…and we all know how that one turned out. So no matter how many of us there are who may feel alike; in the face of all I’ve outlined here, I beg the question: ‘What’s just one person to do?’.
The other day, I was in a McD’s, eating my lunch, minding my own business but a little perplexed why my attention kept getting drawn to a nicely dressed woman in a corner booth…maybe in her mid-50’s. There was something…
Anyway, on my out, my travel path took me past her as she was exiting.
“I’m sorry…don’t mean to presume, but there was such a peace coming from you. I appreciated it”.
She smiled and showed me her coin.
I asked, “1-year?”.
She smiled (sort of gentle like), “No, two, yesterday”.
“I appreciate that, but I was just thinking about how what I’m really grateful for is what I’ve been able to do with today…” and we went our separate ways. That was it.
So there it is. I cannot save the world. I can, however, refuse to quit and cower in fear. I can take good example from my lunch-time encounter and do what I can, where I’m at, and with what I’ve got to work with.
This week I’m going to go out of my way to be kind when I don’t have to be. I will say a nice word to someone at work. I am even thinking about walking on the wild side and pay the toll for an unsuspecting car behind me.
Change may be one of our few constants, but so is loving one another.
Here’s an idea. Paraphrasing Bonnie Raitt, let’s give the Aliens something to talk about when they go back home. Since all politics are local, do something radical, love the one you’re with.
I didn’t write the lyric and I certainly wasn’t the first one to say it, but think about it. Loving one another is radical and, it’s good for tourism.
I thought you’d like it.
If You Want to Read More About It:
With so many people having so much to say as today, we learn the President is sending a War Powers Resolution authorization to the U.S. Congress, I felt the need to know more about it. Some of my reading list is presented for your convenience:
Obama breaks from precedent in asking Congress for approval to strike Syria
By Ben Geman – 09/01/13 08:08 AM ET
What about Muslim intervention in Syria?
By Mark Collins, National Post | 13/08/29 1:32 PM ET
White Man’s Burden 2.0
By George Jonas | 13/08/31 | Last Updated: 13/08/30 4:39 PM ET
Tough times for Hezbollah
By Matthew Levitt, Special to National Post | 13/08/29 | Last Updated: 13/08/28 3:28 PM ET
Syrians are dying while the world dithers
By Irwin Cotler, National Post | 13/08/31 | Last Updated: 13/08/30 3:12 PM ET
British vote on Syria demonstrates deep western weariness with Middle East
By Kelly McParland | 13/08/30 | Last Updated: 13/08/30 12:23 PM ET
Should we bomb Syria?
Published in the National Post | 13/08/30 | Last Updated: 13/08/29 5:48 PM ET
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Four National Post comment writers weigh in on whether the West should launch a military strike on the Syrian regime.
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And for some lighter fare, here’s an excellent travelogue that starts with the topic of ‘We are not alone’.
Sir David Paradine Frost
(April 7, 1939 – August 31, 2013)
Veteran broadcaster Sir David Frost has died at the age of 74 after a suspected heart attack while on board a cruise ship.
Widely known for his interview of Richard Nixon, “Frost was the only person to have interviewed eight British prime ministers serving between 1964 and 2010 (Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron) and the seven US presidents in office between 1969 and 2008 (Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush).”
Political satire has lost a rare champion.
Sources: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-23920336 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Frost Photo sourced from (David-Frost_1652680c): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/7809511/Coalition-government-has-killed-off-political-satire-says-Sir-David-Frost.html
PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS: Banner Coastal Redwood Forest by Eric E Photography is used with permission. Visit Eric and see his other work at: http://www.ericephoto.com or http://ericephoto.wordpress.com/
Visit Earth Mashup by dan4kent: Earth Photo (Original:r-EARTH-large570): http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/11/nasa-could-use-spy-satellites-moons-hidden-secret_n_2660205.html; rockandahardplace from KEEP CALM, AND HAVE A HOT ONE (A WordPress blogger): http://hschaffer.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/rock-and-a-hard-place/ ; Ancient Egyptian Music Concert: http://www.essentialvermeer.com/music/instruments.html; Stormy weather: http://www.photofromtheworld.com/img/Photo/Nature/NatureForce/Stormy%20weather.jpg; brazilpeacekeeper_wideweb__470x321,0: http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/imf-alert-on-starvation-and-civil-unrest/2008/04/14/1208025090977.html; random-acts-of-kindness-90426463094_xlarge: http://www.sodahead.com/fun/do-you-perform-random-acts-of-kindness/question-3249631/; Gridlock_KeefeM20101120: http://www.intoon.com/cartoons.cfm/id/93064; sketchbook_eatonscentre02 by Tabitha Fisher: http://tabithadraws.blogspot.com/2010_04_01_archive.html; 954-earth-from-space-pictures: http://www.travelettes.net/travel-to-space-in-a-hot-air-balloon-or-almost/;
“Pray for Syria” by Ray Ferrer: This is a sketch by Artist Ray Ferrer. It is available in the form of a poster / print, and is numbered and signed. This signed print is limited to 25. Go to: http://urbanwallart.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/pray-for-syria-sketch-design-by-me/;
Brent the Chimp Artist. This undated image provided by Chimp Haven, Inc. shows Brent,a chimpanzee at Chimp Haven in Keithville, La. (AP Photo/Chimp Haven, Inc.): http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2013/08/brent_a_chimpanzee_that_paints.html; Painting by Brent the Chimp. This image provided by The Humane Society of the United States shows artwork created by Brent, a chimpanzee at Chimp Haven in Keithville, La. (AP Photo/Humane Society of The United States): http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2013/08/brent_a_chimpanzee_that_paints.html
Prize Winning Painting
by Brent the Chimp
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