Letter From New York 01 31 15 How lucky are we?

The days are growing longer. It is 5 PM and there is still light and I am grateful. It lightens my sprits for the days to be growing longer. Not so long ago it was dark at this time.

It is a white world that I look out upon. There was fresh snow yesterday and we are facing yet another storm that will lay another foot upon us and may disrupt my intentions of being in the city on Monday. It is very cold outside with wind chills of minus 15.

I am just back from a long and lovely lunch with my friends Larry Divney and Alicia Vergara. Recently they were in Mexico and while scouring a flea market there Alicia found two masks to bring back to me, knowing I collect them. They are wonderful and I already know where I will hang them. Primitive and powerful, they will make a great addition to my collection.

Alicia went off before we started lunch to buy something from one of the neighboring stores. While she was gone, Larry and I chatted about how lucky we are. For one, we are above ground. That’s always a good beginning. And we are living in Columbia County, New York. It’s a great place to be and we were having a lovely lunch at Ca’Mea, one of the best restaurants in Hudson. We had a martini and then a lovely white wine with lunch. I had onion soup and pasta with a chicken ragout – tremendous.

As we chatted, I confirmed how lucky we are. After all, we could be living in Donetsk in Ukraine, where there is a constant shelling of the city and where residents are running out of the most basic supplies. Apparently, the Russians are reinforcing the dissidents with their “little green men,” Russian soldiers or “volunteers” in uniforms with no markings. Lots of tanks have crossed over from Russian into Ukraine. They are dying by the dozens there.

We could be living in a hundred places where there is no peace but we are living in Columbia County, New York where there is a great deal of peace. Surrounded by white snow with more to come, it is hard to imagine a place more tranquil than this. As I waited for Larry and Alicia, I noticed two women at the bar, eating lunch and thought how lucky we all are. There is no shelling of the city where we live. We have all kinds of reserves. All we have to worry about is a coming snowstorm. That’s a luxury. In Donetsk, a snowstorm could be the difference between life and death.

In the “Caliphate” that is ISIS, there is video out that allegedly shows a second Japanese hostage being beheaded. I wince with pain that this is happening. While denouncing all the mistakes the west has made, ISIS is creating its own path of travesties, crimes committed for reasons I do not understand.

Far from my world of snow and peace, men are trampling on the rights of others in the name of religion. Christians and Protestants did it some centuries ago and now Islam is doing it, between Shia and Sunni.

We are so lucky to live where we do. As brutal as 9/11 was – and I lived through it – the thousands upon thousands who are dying in Islamic countries, as Sunnis kill Shias and Shias kill Sunnis, dwarf the numbers killed that day.  It goes on and on and on.

And I don’t really understand why. But then that’s what Christians were doing back a few centuries ago when Catholics and Protestants were locked in brutal warfare with each other, all in the name of God.

The sun has set. The floodlight on the fountain in my yard has turned on. I will soon go to a neighbor for dinner. We are gathering for a movie night, in a neighborhood where we aren’t worried about bombings. How lucky are we?

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