Archive for April, 2013

Letter From New York

April 29, 2013

Or, as it seems to me…

The sun is setting but you can only tell because the light is fading.  The glorious weekend of sun and warmth in the Hudson Valley is ending in a curtain of grey that descended a couple of hours ago.  Below me the creek flows clear and clean, having glistened all weekend with sun sparkles dancing on its waters.  A magnificent bald eagle perched for a half hour or so on one of the embankment’s trees.  I watched him peruse the land before he spread giant wings and flew to the north, low along the creek, seeking prey I suppose.

Prey.  I wonder if that is how the Boston Bombers thought of the people that were killed and wounded?  Prey:  a person or thing that is hunted.  Prey is what people around the world have become, hunted by individuals who wish to do indiscriminate harm to a general population with whom they disagree for some reason.

Back in Iraq [remember Iraq?] the Sunnis are being preyed upon with lots of car bombs.  In Afghanistan, something is blowing up on what seems like a daily basis.  Syria.  Well, Syria is the whole caboodle – bombs, rockets, IUD’s.  Nerve gas?  May be.  The Israelis and the French say so and the Obama administration is carefully considering its opinion and its options as it once said: nerve gas use is one step too far, the red line, the Rubicon. 

Shootings go on unabated in this country – and elsewhere.  Italy had two policemen shot as the new government was sworn in. 

We have a cornucopia of violence in the world. 

After my last letter, a good friend asked me if all this made me angry as well as sad.  OF COURSE it makes me angry.  And what is frustrating is to whom do I direct my anger?  At Congress, for failing to pass background checks even though 90% of the country seemed to want them, according to polls.  Yes, I am angry at Congress and background checks are only part of the reason I am angry at Congress.  This bunch seems to be a particularly inept set of boobs but then Washington somehow has always seemed to attract an inept set of boobs.  Another friend of mine, in her brief time in Washington, sat next to a Senator only to realize he was one of the stupidest men she had ever encountered.  How do we elect stupid people?  And we do, not always, but we do.  How else do you explain Michelle Bachman?

And it is not just the U.S. that has this problem.  Every democracy seems to have this problem.  It seems one of the issues with democracy.  Go back to the Greeks.  I’m sure they had their fair share of elected boobs. 

Last night I was at a dinner and found myself silent while listening to people talk about gun control.  I said nothing because there was no room in what was being said for a dissenting opinion.  Minds were made up and I wasn’t ready to spoil a pleasant social gathering with a dissenting opinion in a room that had no space for it.  And that made me sad.  We’re polarized and unable to discuss opposing opinions.

Yet, interestingly, I found myself in all of this, a greater admirer of America than I usually am – and I have been aware of how fortunate we are since I was a kid, returning from Honduras.  There I was confronted with how lucky I was as a middle class American kid.  I had hot water every day.  I had my own bedroom, my own bathroom.  I had…so much, in comparison.

And despite all our faults, our boobs in Congress, our rapacious corporations and their lobbyists, we are still an amazing experiment in the history of the world.  Flawed and faulted, I admit, but still an amazing experiment still being worked on in the laboratory. 

As the night turns from grey to black, here at Claverack Cottage, I am hoping we continue to experiment and that we find success in the laboratory of history.