Letter From New York 03 24 2016 From where we were to where we are…

Darkness has descended on the Hudson Valley; it is pitch black outside though I am heartened everyday by the weather person’s announcement we had three or so more minutes of daylight today than yesterday.

I’ve adjusted the timers on lights to accommodate the increasing daylight.  I rejoice as I am sure everyone does.

My dining room table is scattered with recipes from which I will choose the ones being made for Easter.  I am getting it organized.   I bought upgraded plastic silverware for Sunday.  Since I am doing this, I want it to be a little special — or a lot special.

In the morning I will winnow down the recipes and head out to do my shopping.  My friend Robert has given me eight dozen eggs from the chickens who live at his house down in Rhinebeck.  I had some for lunch.  There is nothing like farm fresh eggs!

While I am typing this, Christ Church is celebrating Maundy Thursday and I wasn’t feeling very churchy tonight so I didn’t go.

Probably feeling more churchy than I do, or at least one would hope so, is Radovan Karadzic, the former Serb leader who was convicted today of genocide during the horrific Serbian conflict twenty-one years ago.  Eight thousand Muslim men and boys were slaughtered in a town called Srebrenica.  Justice finally has been done though it will not bring back those men and boys whose only crime was that they were born Muslim.

At the time, when it was revealed, I felt horror and I feel it today.  There was a time when such things happened to Christians; indeed, they are happening today to Christians at the hands of IS.  It is things like Srebrenica that make IS feel justified.

It’s been a happy day for me, feeling far from all the world’s troubles, tooling around Columbia County, collecting mail, a couple of meetings with organizations I am volunteering with, a haircut, bumping into people on the street and having a good conversation with them.

While I was doing those fun things, the police in Paris foiled an alleged terror attack in advanced stages.  Obama apologized in Argentina for some of our policies and actions during their long and very dirty internal war.  I suspect we turned too blind an eye to some things.

Belgium and Europe in general are struggling to balance freedom and safety in the fight against terrorist attacks.

In America, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are exploiting our fears in their campaigns; loudly criticized and, I think, rightly so, by Obama.  And I think by Hillary and Bernie, too.

Syrian troops loyal to Assad are in the suburbs of Palmyra in the early stages of reclaiming the city from IS, which has this year lost 21% of the territory it controlled.  The monuments destroyed are gone and it will be good if the city can be liberated.  It has suffered terribly.

At the same time, Iraqi troops are advancing into Mosul, using lessons from the recapture of Ramadi to help them win back this important Iraqi city.  Many of the historical treasures there are gone also, never to be seen again.

I do not live in their mindset and cannot come close to comprehending why it was necessary for them to destroy the heritage of the planet.  But they did.  It ranks up there with the killings at Srebrenica.  Maybe it doesn’t.  At Srebrenica those were living beings that were destroyed.  At Palmyra and Mosul, it was the artifacts of the past that helped create the world in which we now live.

There are echoes of that world here in the cottage.  I have treasured artifacts from the past and things that echo them.  Someday, when I am gone, all this will be scattered, some thrown away but in the time they have had with me I have been grateful for their presence.

There is a small collection of masks, a recreation of a bust of Athena from Greece, a painting from India that evokes Alexander, a Renoir re-strike, a wonderful painting from a Provincetown gallery of Alexander. 

We need the past to build the future, to connect ourselves from where we were to where we are going.

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