Letter From New York 03 22 2016 A dirge for Brussels

The sun is setting as I sit looking out at the creek, the vista in front of me full of greying light and the still barren branches of the trees clawing to the sky. 

Mahler plays in the background.  He seemed right for the moment, a day in which I have been enraged and sad, felt broken and hopeless, contemplative and escapist.

When the alarms went off this morning, the screen of my phone was cluttered with news pushes from the BBC and AP about the tragedy in Brussels.  I rubbed my eyes and attempted to focus, not wanting to believe what I was reading.  But it was there, a truth that had entered the world, unwanted but present, never to be put back in any bottle.

I hit the snooze alarm and closed my eyes, staying there until I had to break into the day.  Playing commuter, I made a round trip to the city today for a meeting I felt I could not miss.  If I missed my train, I might miss the meeting.

It seemed inconsequential when I really thought about it, a media meeting balanced against the carnage of Brussels, another IS attack on western civilization.  However, our worlds go on and we met and it was good and some business might develop from it and we never talked about Brussels.

We are becoming inured to the cadence of troubles that has burst upon the world.  We are accepting all of this as the new normal, much as did the Russians did during the last fifty years of the Empire when anarchists struck again and again.  You have to go on because what else does one do? 

Perhaps we should take a break, think about what is happening, see what individually we might do to change the horrible road we’re on.

We don’t really know how to change the map, the road; we do our best, or our worst, and keep on going.  We are, at this moment, caught up in the flow of history and we poor individuals don’t know how to do much to change it yet it is somehow, in democracies, in our hands.

Ted Cruz has apparently called for the patrolling and monitoring of American Muslim communities.  I wanted to take my phone and throw it across the drive when I read that. 

How do we make them our friends when we cast them all as enemies? 

It is frightening and complex and every Muslim I know is as appalled by IS as I am.  Monitor and patrol their communities?  He is taking a page from the Trump playbook.

As I drove to the train this morning a commentator on “Democracy Now” which I do not often listen to, claimed that if there were a Brussels style attack in America just before the election we will be looking at a President Trump.

And I was afraid he might be right.

On my way out of town tonight, on the 4:40 heading north, I might have been imaging it but it seemed there were a lot more soldiers in Penn Station than there normally are.  And I understood it.

Facebook notified me that Facebook friends of mine in Brussels were all safe, for which I was grateful.

I am frightened tonight.  I am going into the city again tomorrow and that doesn’t frighten me.  But the world in which we are living frightens me. 

“The War on Terror” may not be the best option in dealing with this situation which is rapidly, I think, growing out of control.

We have failed to address systemic issues in the Mideast and are reaping the rewards.  Just saying…

I am in the third act of my life.  It is for my younger friends and relatives I am concerned.

It is for the world I was born into that I am concerned.  It is slipping away from us.  IS is taking our peace and our consumption habits seem about to take much else from us. 

Scientists are saying global warming is worse than they thought.

No wonder I am playing Mahler tonight.

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