Letter From New York February 16, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

As I begin to write this, it is the end of the long President’s Day weekend, following on Valentine’s Day. Now the origin of Valentine’s Day, as I heard it recounted on NPR, goes something like this. There was a priest named Valentine who, during the reign of Claudius II, performed marriages even though the Emperor, for whatever reason, had decided no one should be getting married so he forbid it. Valentine got caught and thrown into prison and was sentenced to death by being beheaded [or clubbed to death, I’ve heard both].

While in prison he got friendly with the jail keeper’s daughter and before being led out to be beheaded [or clubbed to death], he left a note for her signed “Your Valentine.” It was February 14, 269 that he met his fate and February 14th has become Valentine’s Day – a day to celebrate love.

My Valentine’s Day celebration was punctuated by finding roses at my doorstep when I got home on Friday night, a remembrance from my friend Christine Olson, who gathered from the universe by some great sensitivity that I could use a bit of an uplift this Valentine’s Day. I spent Friday night arranging them in their vase and finding a place of pride for them in the cottage. It was, for me, the perfect uplift.

And the spirit of the day was carried through the weekend, with a surprising number of people wishing each other Happy Valentine’s Day.

Against the good spirits of the Holiday, the world itself was not so love filled. The largest NATO offensive since the invasion of Afghanistan itself was happening there, seeking to rout the Taliban from Helmand province – an adventure that seemed to be progressing well, despite the number of IED’s left everywhere as welcoming gifts for the soldiers.

Iran continues its mad plunge toward nuclear arms and Secretary Clinton has indicated that she thinks that Iran is becoming a military dictatorship. Yes, could well be given all that we’ve seen there since the last elections there. In the meantime, the world can’t seem to come to a consensus on how to respond to Iran and so they continue their mendacious ways.

Iraq, which is slowly taking control of its own security, is beset by recent bombings, with female suicide bombers making their mark, bedeviling that country’s efforts to climb back into civil stability.

The Winter Olympics have begun, with shadows. A young Georgian luge team member was killed in a practice run, casting a pall across the Games, which have been suffering from a surfeit of warm weather, causing delays in some sports as the runs are too slushy for competition. NBC says it will lose a couple of hundred million on the Olympics – the result of a too high bid for the rights when the economy was flush. All the computer modeling didn’t take into account the Great Recession.

So against Valentine’s Day, the celebration of love, there are a lot of things happening in the world that have little to do with love – from the nuclear ambitions of Iran to the suicide bombers of Iraq. It has been said that onstage dying is easy, comedy is hard. On the world stage, hate is easy, love is hard…

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