Letter From New York 01 11 09

Letter From New York
January 11, 2009

It is a Sunday evening; as the sun set last night snow began to fall. When I woke this morning, there was a foot in the circular drive of the house. It had been my intention to go into the city and meet some friends but as soon as I opened the door I knew it wasn’t going to be my day to go to the city.

So I curled up in the cottage, read magazines, talked to friends and family, had a fire in the stove, listened to music, did paperwork, spent time with myself. On Tuesday I have to go out to Los Angeles, something that came together on Friday and so it felt good to be able to spend some unexpected time with myself in my home.

Out there in the world, it is not a pretty place. Both Hamas and Israel are rejecting the cries for ceasefire so the dying goes on. Particularly difficult to see are the photos of children hurt, frightened, scared to death by forces they didn’t create but which are shaping their lives going forward. All around the world protests and counter protests are being staged. Support Gaza! Support Israel! Supporting either side isn’t getting the killing stopped. What is particularly troubling is the charge that Hamas is using innocent civilians as human shields. Israel says it is near to achieving its goals in Gaza. However the offensive will continue. Why? May be because Hamas is lobbing bigger rockets into Israel. None of this, of course, is doing much to resolve the underlying issues but it is doing a good job of making sure they don’t soon get resolved.

While Gaza suffers, Hollywood gathers to award the Golden Globes. It’s the official beginning of the march to The Oscars. No matter what the shape the world is in, we continue to celebrate the work done in movies and on television. The Oscars were a constant during the Great Depression and will be a constant through whatever it is we end up calling this crisis.

The ripples continue from the Madoff affair, people constantly performing exegesis on the events, attempting to understand how a fraud of this dimension could have gone undetected, especially by his own sons – who seem to have little to say about the matter. Meanwhile, it has now become apparent that it will take years to unravel the mystery of the affair. Meanwhile, Mr. Madoff is working out a defense. Insanity is being floated; it hasn’t resonated well so far. We’ll see if they actually use it.
In one of the rare instances of sane behavior on the part of the Bush Administration, we discovered this weekend that they denied the Israelis high tech bombs so they could attack the Iranian nuclear facilities. It was a rare instance of restraint on their part, for which I am grateful – one of the few things from this Administration for which I am grateful.

This has been the week in which Forbes did a study of the effects upon billionaires, giving us a look at twenty-five of them who have been ravaged by the crash. Some of them are barely millionaires any more. There is one man who has in the last nine months lost twenty-five BILLION dollars. Losses all around are staggering.

It is winter and I am warm and cozy in the cottage. Europe has been living under the threat of freezing because of a gas dispute between Ukraine and Russia. Pictures from eastern Europe showed people shivering on trains that weren’t being heated to save fuel. A deal was done between Ukraine and Russia that resolved the problem; it began to, not surprisingly, unravel almost immediately. The EU is scrambling to save the deal – one fifth of its natural gas flows through the Ukrainian pipeline and temperatures are dropping.

What I am seeing at the end of this cozy Sunday in the cottage is that the world is in a very hard place and it seems that the issues may be insurmountable. However, we are human and in the human heart beats hope and hope is what we need right now.

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