Letter From New York 07 01 15 Different ways to celebrate nationhood…

By the time this summer is over, we may be calling this “The Grey Summer” as most days seem to be more grey than sunny. Today is no exception, nor was yesterday, nor the day before. When I left the building this morning, William, the doorman, warned me it was supposed to rain. So far it hasn’t but the day hasn’t been sunny.

Yesterday was another day that got away from me without a Letter, too many meetings and calls and running to make appointments, through the crowded subways of New York.

On my way to a 5:00 drinks meeting at the Warwick Hotel in Midtown, I passed through the Times Square Station, where many of the city’s line converge. As I was getting off the 1 train to head to N, Q, R line, I met a man in a wheelchair, holding out his hat, plaintively asking for money. Usually, I don’t but this time I slipped him a dollar.

Traveling toward the N, Q, R I passed a man with stumps for arms and legs, sitting in a motorized chair, singing with one of the most breathtaking voices I have ever heard. Then came the man on a microphone pronouncing the end of the world, loudly, stridently and incoherently for the most part. Just yards from him was another man, handing out Biblical Literature with a friendly smile and soft voice. I nodded to him and smiled back.

Just another subway day…

It’s the 1st of July and that means it is “Canada Day!” So Happy Birthday Canada! I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Canada. Many of my relations are Canadian. My maternal grandmother’s sister emigrated from Sweden to Canada rather to America like her sister. So there were Canadian cousins and not infrequent trips to Winnipeg where they lived.

In my senior year of college, I spent some months there with my college roommate who was marrying a very proper Torontonian young lady. He wanted me around for moral support. [That may not have worked out so well; her parents definitely liked me while they loathed my roommate.]

But the marriage happened and I went back to Minnesota to finish my degree with lots of great Canadian memories. Like us, they celebrate with barbecue and fireworks.

There is another celebration of nationhood going on also. IS is celebrating one year of its Caliphate with a spree of executions. I don’t know if they are including fireworks. They have been particularly gruesome in their celebration. They have taken to crucifying [yes, you read that right, crucifying] young boys who, in their opinion, did not sufficiently fast for Ramadan.

They have started beheading women, which they haven’t done before. They have locked people they don’t like in vehicles and then used them for rocket practice. I am not sure what constitutes magic to the Islamists but they have been beheading men and women accused of that crime. And, of course, if you’re Shia, better hope they don’t find out. That will get you killed, too. Sodomy results in being thrown from a tall building. Some children have just been tortured. Some have been buried alive or sold as sex slaves and, if they can get them to, they are being recruited for the Caliphate to fight. They have a group called “Cubs for the Caliphate” that grooms young fighters.

What a way to celebrate. Good old blood and guts on the streets!

I will take a moment to pray for those who have died in these terrible ways.

There are over three thousand who have been executed, not to mention all those who died in the fighting.

Not physically fighting but verbally sparring, the EU and Greece are still attempting to resolve their differences. Tsipras announced that Greece would accept most of the latest European proposals and markets soared on the news but that doesn’t mean the deal will be done.

Merkel and other European leaders are saying no negotiations until after the referendum on Sunday. What’s the point?

And in a note that is sad but more hopeful, at least about the human condition, Sir Nicholas Winton passed away at the age of 106. In the months leading up to World War II, Winton managed to get over 600 children out of Prague before the declaration of war between Britain and Germany.

He worked as a one-man advocate for children when most resources were working to get intellectuals away from the Nazis. His efforts, which earned him the title “Britain’s Schindler”, were unknown for nearly fifty years after the war. He didn’t mention them. Only when his wife found papers in the attic was he convinced to speak about what he had done.

Good job, Sir Nicholas! Good job!

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