Archive for the ‘Gun Violence’ Category

Letter From Claverack 10 12 2017 Thoughts on what I would preach…

October 12, 2017

At sea

Monday, I sent out a blog inspired by Mother Eileen’s sermon at Christ Church on Sunday and forwarded her a copy as she is not on my list.  She wrote back the following day and jokingly suggested I might preach this Sunday, which led me to think about what I would preach.  What would I say if I had to, this Sunday, preach at a church?

I looked up the gospel for next Sunday and its essential line is:  many are called but few are chosen.

Certainly, that fits with last year’s election cycle which started with more candidates for the Republican nomination for president than I remember in my life.  Many were called and, in the end, the one that was chosen was Donald Trump and he went on to become President of these United States.

It will probably surprise many who know me but every week at church I light a candle for the man.  No, I don’t like him.  His policies seem mean spirited, quixotic at best.  His relationship with the truth, as I experience it, is equally quixotic.

And he is President of these United States, a man with great power, influence and the ability to shake the world on more levels than I believe he is aware of or understands.  But he is the president and I pray for him, hoping, on a very fundamental level he doesn’t do anything that will prevent me from being back at church next Sunday to pray for him.

He appealed to a disenfranchised part of America we, all of us, have not been listening to or acknowledging.  They gravitated to Donald Trump as people in the water after the loss of Titanic, desperate to be saved, crying for help.  Do I think he will save them?  No.

But I want us to hear their cries and find a way to address them and to help them.  They are Americans.  With very real issues.

Today I read there are the most job openings than there have been for a very long time.  Those jobs are harder to fill because we have a massive opioid crisis and many people cannot pass drug tests.  Companies are beginning, in desperation, to turn a blind eye, not asking for drug tests for dangerous jobs because they can’t find enough people to fill them.

Not so long ago, there were two Amtrak employees killed, men not much younger than me and their autopsies revealed they had non-prescribed opioids in their systems.  Our local paper, the Register Star, gave a face to the epidemic by highlighting on the front page a young woman, full of hope, who overdosed.

It is time we faced this epidemic, its causes and its ravages and did something and quit pretending everything is going along just fine.

President Trump, weren’t you going to make this a national emergency?  What happened?

Nothing much.  Why not?

Even the beauty of the cottage is not soothing my soul these days.  What am I to do?

Many are called but few are chosen.  What is it I am called to do in this tumultuous time?  Every day I ask myself that question.  What am I to do?  What am I called to do?

Whether you are a supporter of Donald Trump or not, what is that you can do, personally, to change the awful things that are happening in this country?

Many are called, few are chosen.  What will make me chosen?  What thing can I do to make this awful time better?  I want to.  I do and I am not sure what it is that I should do.  Pack a bag and fly to some war-torn part of the world and put up my hand and say: I’m here to help? What can I do?

A friend suggested I do that.  Maybe I will.

We all need to ask ourselves how we are going to respond to Jesus’ call?  I am not a raving evangelical.  Far from that.  I respect, at the deepest level of my soul, the kindness Jesus worked to insert into the human dialogue and which has resonated for both good and ill since then.

Since I was a boy, I have thought Jesus would be appalled at what has happened to what he started.  He preached love and love is not often what has happened.

Many are called but few will be chosen.  Be one of the few.  Practice what Jesus taught.

 

Letter From Claverack 10 03 2017 Not making sense of Las Vegas, or much else…

October 3, 2017

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It’s a day of exquisite autumnal beauty and I am squirreled up on the deck, dressed warmly as there is a chill in the air but I want to be here, surrounded by the peace of this setting, this day, because out in the world, it is a grim and gruesome place.

It has not been possible for me to process the Las Vegas shootings.  There are only two people I know who live there, my friends Chuck and Lois, and I found out they are only a couple of hours from me, visiting their daughter, safe.

But safe? We might need to find a new definition of safe.

Until about ten years ago, I made an annual or bi-annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for conventions.  While I don’t have a soft spot in my heart for the place, I have, because of business, visited regularly since 1980 and have a sense of familiarity.  The Mandalay is a hotel I’ve been in more times than I can count and I’ve walked that part of the Strip.  All before we began to need a new definition of safety, which is what the last sixteen years have been about, since hijackers used box cutters to attempt to bring down an empire.

It has seemed the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are running rampant and there are some who are reading into these events a portending of the end times.

And it’s a little hard to blame them.

Just in the last weeks, we have had Harvey, Irma, Maria, two enormous earthquakes in Mexico, heart wrenching images of refugees from all over the world, from Myanmar to Syria, from Libya to the coasts of Italy and Greece.

And now, Las Vegas, an event I can’t process.  What made Stephen Paddock decide to gun down hundreds, killing 59 at last count?  What? What?

And the number of dead will likely mount as dozens of the injured are in critical condition.

The numbers could have been worse, if not for the many acts of individual bravery, like Jonathan Smith, who led at least thirty people to safety behind a row of cars before a bullet found his neck.  He will live.

There are tears in my eyes and there have been tears in my eyes too many times recently, crying for people who are suffering and for brave people who scorned danger to save others.

Maybe it’s a good thing it’s hard for me to process Las Vegas because it will live with me just as Sandy Hook lives with me, like 9/11 will never not be part of my life while I live.

It’s no wonder we are searching for distractions, which is what the twenty plus thousand people at the Las Vegas concert were doing.  Looking for fun, celebrating life, seeking joy and then were subjected to unbelievable violence.

Following is a great summation of what late night hosts said, men who are finding themselves in the uncomfortable place of feeling society is demanding they raise their voices.  Here.

Paul Ryan announced today that because of Las Vegas a vote will be delayed in Congress about making it easier to get silencers for guns.

Trump was in Puerto Rico today handing out supplies and, according to some reporters, making sure “the optics” were good.  Not particularly caring about optics, read what this DC chef is doing in Puerto Rico. Here.

Tonight, as I finish this letter, I find myself feeling very alone, not personally frightened but frightened, in a broader sense, in the sense I can’t make sense of Las Vegas or fill in the blank.

Come Sunday, I will light more than one candle for Las Vegas.  And before I sleep tonight, I will say prayers for the victims and will pray for Spain as Catalan announces it will be declaring independence within days and I will pray for the refugees streaming out of Myanmar and for people who are undoubtedly being tossed about the Mediterranean tonight as the summer season winds down, before heavy seas prevail.

There is no end of things for which to pray.

 

Letter from Charlottesville, where I am now… learning how to civilly disagree!

December 3, 2016

It is a Friday evening.

At this moment, I am at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville, Virginia, home of the University of Virginia, conceived by Thomas Jefferson, a lush place graced by The Rotunda, a building designed by Jefferson that has just undergone a year-long renovation, sitting magnificently on the road into the University grounds.

It is also home to The Miller Center, a unit of the University devoted to the study of the Presidency.

It was there I spent my day, moving from one meeting to the next, having conversations with staff about the mission of The Miller Center and the part played in it by “American Forum,” a program they produce which is aired on PBS Stations.

What struck me today was that the mission of The Miller Center, along with its exegesis of Presidencies, is its mission to foster civil dialogue between people of differing opinions.

And this is a time when we need to learn how to disagree civilly with each other.  Disagreement, and disagreeable discord, is the heart and soul of democracy, has been so since democracy first raised its head back in ancient Greece.

Today I came away respecting this small redoubt that is working to increase the civility of disagreement, of modeling ways that opposing views can be examined without violence.

This is a hard time for everyone in this country, I think.

Tom van der Voort, who is a Communications Director at The Miller Center, focused me on the fact it is fine we disagree and it is important HOW we disagree.

He pointed out to me that the 2nd Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, not guns.  Nuclear weapons are arms.  Should everyone have a right to their own nuke?  That is the extension of the Second Amendment which the Founding Fathers could never have imagined.  We all have right to nuclear arms?

Even the most ardent supporters of gun rights would not agree that we should allow everyone their own nukes but the wording of the Constitution makes it perhaps possible.

We need to think.

We need to talk.  Civilly.

In a meeting with a very smart young man who is a senior figure in television it was suggested by him we have moved into a “new civilizational phase.”

For good or not, the election of Donald Trump as our President means we are moving into uncharted territory.  He is a wild card in our lives, in our life as a democratic society, which is, I think, why he was elected.

The country has decided to roll the dice and see what the unexpected will bring to us.

And in this time, it has never been more important to learn how to disagree civilly.

Letter From Claverack 09 23 2016 And what Springsteen said…

September 24, 2016

It has been days since I have written a letter.  Partially it is because I have been socially busy when I am usually not.   Lionel and Pierre are here.  Yesterday his sister and brother-in-law and their son Harry arrived from Australia.  Tomorrow they are leaving for a cruise in the Caribbean.  While they’re gone, I will be caretaker for Marcel for most of the time, a task I will both enjoy and of which I am afraid.  In less than a month, Marcel will be 16 years old.  He is a little old man who soldiers on with bravado.

Fall has officially arrived and leaves are beginning to flutter down upon the cottage.  Every few minutes an acorn falls on the roof.  While still warmish in the days, it cools significantly at night.  A cold front is arriving, the weatherman says.

It has been a hectic day, starting early with documents to review, followed by a string of conference calls and then more documents to review.  When I went online to post something for my class, I discovered that Blackboard is offline, as it is every Friday at this time, for maintenance. It will have to wait until morning.

Social busyness was the cover for my not wanting to write, to not think about the world.  I read the New York Times Briefing every day and have found discouragement in its contents.

More people have been shot.  A white female officer in Tulsa has been charged with manslaughter in the case there.  In Charlotte, North Carolina, the town that prided itself as being the epitome of the “New South,” is still parsing the death of a black man there while protests have grown violent, leaving one more dead.

At times, frankly, it makes me want to crawl into bed with a chill bottle of vodka and a straw.  More and more people are telling me they are tuning out the acrid political scene of this year.  They have determined which way they are going to vote and have no need to be brutalized anymore.

The first of the debates are upon us and I may steel myself to watch it.  I just don’t know how long I will last.

Two of the most deeply disliked individuals in America are running for President.  There is no joy in Mudville.

Palmer Luckey is one of the founders of Oculus, the VR hardware company scooped up by Facebook a bit ago.  He is funding an anti-Clinton, pro-Trump group and a small group of developers are now dropping their support for Oculus because of his politics.  It’s far from a boycott but is unusual and probably unprecedented in the gaming world.

Once nominated for President, candidates get Secret Service protection.  The Secret Service reimburses campaigns for the agents’ travel.  In Trump’s case, it goes to TAG Air, a company he owns.  It has received $1.6 million so far.  I get it…  Sort of… Kind of…

Looking for things to distract me from drownings of refugees, our sordid political landscape, I turned tonight to Entertainment News, which is what feeds the American mind most of the time.

“Magnificent Seven” reigns at the box office, headlined by Denzel Washington.

The more than decade long spectacle that has been “Brangelina” is coming to an end as Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.  It was a good show, classier than most, most of the time.

The Emmys have come and gone.  All reports [I didn’t watch] was that it was a good show.  Jimmy Kimmel was highly praised for his hosting but the back slapping industry love fest plummeted 22% from last year in ratings.

And Jim Parsons, of “Big Bang Theory” is now TV’s highest paid actor, with $25,000,000 coming in for the next, and possibly last, season of the show.

Oh, and Bruce Springsteen called Trump a “moron.”

 

 

 

 

Letter From the Train 09 15 2016 Thoughts Heading South

September 15, 2016

It is stunning today as I am riding south to the city.  It is a perfect September day, low humidity, temperature in the 70’s, sunny with glints of silver reflecting off the water of the Hudson while low puffy clouds rest behind the Catskills.

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Tonight I am on my way to the city [New York] to have dinner with my friend Ann Frisbee Namye, with whom I worked thirty years ago at A&E and who I have not seen for twenty years.  She connected with me through LinkedIn and we set a dinner date while on a business trip to New York.  I’m excited.

To be truthful, I haven’t let much noise in over the week.  The days have been too special for that.  I woke up happy this morning and didn’t disturb that happiness with a burst of news.  Besides, I had a lot of organizing to do as I was teaching this morning and had lots of handouts for my students.

So I checked into the news once I boarded the train.  Panic at the poll numbers is upon us.  Trump is closing on Hillary and fright walks the land and one Democratic friend of mine may actually have another panic attack over this.

It is my choice not to panic and to read the article that tells me that the polls are meaningless at this moment.

Though the thought of Trump as President is scary.  His Presidency would be one long fright night, I fear.

He released a letter from his doctor of thirty years after a physical on Friday, stating he was in good health.  He was the same doctor who earlier wrote a letter in five minutes stating how healthy Trump was.

When I was in college, many friends made extra money by driving cabs.  Now they’d be driving for Uber.  And those opportunities may go away if Google and Uber and Lyft and the car companies get their way.

Uber has launched a pilot program in Pittsburgh with driverless cars.  They have a back-up human for now but eventually the back-ups will go and then some day there will be no taxi or Uber or Lyft drivers for that matter.  Gone the way of the Dodo…

In yet another gun tragedy, police in Columbus, Ohio shot to death a 13-year-old black robbery suspect.  He apparently pulled from his belt a BB gun that looks almost exactly like standard issue weaponry for the Columbus police.  What adult would allow a child to have such a weapon, such a thing?

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said, “A 13-year-old is dead in the city of Columbus because of our obsession with guns.”

And in a stunning additional gun tragedy, a 77-year-old resident of a Senior Home shot two other residents and a staff member, fled the scene on a bicycle and then killed himself as officers approached.  Apparently, he was upset about poker games.

Jackson Grubb, a nine-year-old from West Virginia, took his life on Saturday because he was being bullied.  I feel like crying.

Today in class the subject of the exploding Samsung Note 7 came up and one of my students almost exploded out of her seat.  It was the first she had heard of it.  Another Note 7 blew up as owners are not listening to the recall requests.

If you have a Note 7, go to the phone store and get it replaced.  Please.  I saw what one did to a jeep the other day online and it was horrific.  This was not a small explosion.  It looked like the vehicle had been car bombed.

Filipino President Duterte, who apparently called President Obama a “son of a whore” is now being accused of ordering extrajudicial killings while he was Mayor of Davao City.  The Senate of that country is investigating.

And now I am caught up with the dreck that is happening out there beyond my world and have inoculated you with it – not in the sense of giving you a vaccine but in planting thoughts.

Today in class I was talking about persuasive speaking and one of the points I made was that a persuasive speaker inoculated their audience by planting ideas that would lead to change.

Perhaps some of these facts will inoculate you to work for change.  Fewer guns, a way to end bullying, more sensible politics…

And I woke up happy and I plan to go to bed happy.

 

 

Letter From Claverack 09 13 2016 Thinking and ruminating by the creek…

September 14, 2016

It is a pleasant night in Claverack, after a pleasant day in general.  The weather was gorgeous, hot for just a moment, but mostly it hovered in the 70’s.  I spent the latter part of the afternoon on the deck, a good book in hand, while also doing a bit of work, making a few phone calls.

This evening I went to the little Mexican restaurant down the road, Coyote Flaco, with my friend Patrick O’Connor, who bumped into some people he had not seen for a long time.  We shared a shrimp appetizer and chicken fajitas and left happy.

The lights are on the creek as it flows softly toward the south.  The first serious leaves have begun to fall; my drive is strewn with them and it is fine.  I do not need to cling to the summer that has passed.  It has been lived fully and well.  As I hope will be the fall that is unfolding.

As I do most days, I spoke with my brother and he asked me if I had a take on the day’s news regarding Hillary and I had to say no.  I had looked in the morning but not since.  In the morning, her campaign announced she thought her pneumonia “no big deal” and so held back saying anything about it.

I was infuriated with her.  How many times has she felt something was “no big deal,” only to have it turn around and bite her in the ass?  How many times does this woman need to have a lesson learned?

Aye, Chihuahua!

Trump is fending off assaults on his Foundation which may – or may not – have given money to various charities.  Some who said they didn’t get gifts found that they did and some just didn’t get them.

And then there is the gift of $25,000 to Pam Bondi, Attorney General for Florida, which might have swayed her to not investigate Trump University. Six months after she dropped her investigation, he hosted a $3,000 a plate fundraiser for her at Mar-a-Lago, his great Florida estate, country club.

Aye, Chihuahua!

To my amazement, Barak Obama’s approval rating is the highest it has been for years.  It has always been my thought he will be remembered by history with more kindness than by his contemporaries.  In my lifetime, I have known no President who has elicited such visceral hatred from so many people.  Maybe I missed something along the way but what this man has endured is remarkable.  And I give him high marks for trying, very hard, to be the best President he can be.

Matt Bevin, Governor of Kentucky, used violent metaphors to describe a Clinton Presidency, evoking images of blood on the ground.

My fear is that we are returning to the politics of the 19th Century when Andrew Jackson created the “Trails of Tears” as scores of thousands of Native Americans died by his direction.  We, as a nation, do not have a good track record of dealing with those who are not “us” as “us” is defined at any exact moment.

I was raised Catholic in Minnesota.  My 8th grade teacher, Sister Anne, told us that we would be persecuted because we were Catholics.  At that moment in my life, it seemed nonsensical.  No one was persecuting me because I was Catholic.  I mean, really…

When I was in college, helping my friend Bill paint his garage, he told me that when he was growing up in Arkansas he would not have been allowed to know me because I was Catholic.  Looking at him with incredulity from my ladder next to his, I realized there were places in my life that I did not know where my Catholicism was a liability.

Now I understand more as I see Christians slaughtered on the beaches of Libya and Christians in Iraq slaughtered.  We live in world of intolerance that I did not expect or accept as a child.  When I was in 8th grade and heard Sister Anne, I thought the world had moved beyond that.

It has not.  No, not in any way.  Shame on us.

 

Letter From The Train 07 18 2016 A Pandemic of Homicides…

July 18, 2016

The New Jersey countryside is slipping by, not very attractive here, just outside New York City, just before Newark, a maze of train tracks and freeway overpasses, industrial complexes and abandoned buildings.  This is the second of the four trains I will be taking today and tomorrow on my way to Minneapolis — actually St. Paul because that’s where the depot is.

Every year I go to Minneapolis to visit family and friends.  And this year I thought taking the train would make it more of an adventure and I routed myself through DC so that I might take the Capitol Limited, the train from DC to Chicago, which I have never taken beyond Martinsburg, WV.

Trains as a way of travel are good to give me time to think.  And I and we have much to think about. Yesterday’s New York Times Weekend Briefing had a link to an article advising us on how to cope with such a bad news week.  One suggestion was to curb your exposure to news and to spend time with family and friends.  “Listening is curative.”

And that was posted before I went to Church, where I lit candles for people and causes I care about and who need caring for and as I was lighting candles, one for peace, my pocket vibrated and I saw that three police men were dead in Baton Rouge, killed, we now know, by an ex-Marine who targeted them.  In my pew, I lowered my face and felt defeated.

In all the talk we have had, pro and con about police killing people, and now people killing police, we have not taken the time to accept that violence happens with appalling frequency and we need to take responsibility for it, each and every one of us. 

The US is not in the top ten most violent countries nor are we one of the ten most peaceful countries. Australia and Canada are in that category though.  We feel about as safe walking around in our neighborhoods as an average European  does.  That’s good…   However, CriminalJusticeDegreeHub.com says we are “in a pandemic of homicides,” as other kinds of crime seem to be “stifled.”

And what has gotten us all worked up is this pandemic of homicides, particularly ones that involve the police.  For the most part, we seem to respect our police.  But murder marches on. 

And I want to do something about it.  I want to do something more than light candles.  And I don’t know what that is.   

Many of us do feel anguish and impotence because we don’t know how to move our country into being a more peaceful place than it is.  And that is what we want for our country, to be a more peaceful place.  Governor Edwards of Louisiana said, “Emotions are raw. There’s a lot of hurting people.”

And there are.  I am hurting and I am nowhere near Baton Rouge or Dallas though will not be far from Falcon Heights when I arrive in Minnesota. This last week of violence has hit me hard and has hit everyone I know in some hard way.  My friends seem hurt and bewildered, not angry, confused not infuriated.

Mix all of this with the attempted coup in Turkey which failed and has resulted in a harsh crackdown by Erdogan on anyone he suspects, pour in the wounds from Nice, France, sprinkle with Brexit and add a dash of any personal suffering we are enduring, stir with the healthy mix of dismay we are having over our incredible political season and there is no wonder we are confused, bleak and anguished, feeling just a little more fragile than is our wont or want.

Perhaps there is some revelation that will come to me while I traverse half the country, back to Minnesota, where I was born.

Letter From New York, via the Vineyard 06 22 2016 Far from the madding crowd but all too aware of it…

June 23, 2016

It is peaceful here in Edgartown, sitting watch a sailboat motor past my window.  The harbor has been filling up with more boats each week that I have been here.  The moorings are filling up with boats of all kinds, small and large.  Far away, just outside the harbor sits a huge motor yacht.  I think it’s been here every year I have. 

Tomorrow, by this time, we should know if Britain has decided to “Brexit” or not and on Friday we will see how the markets respond.  It will be, I am told in newspaper reports, a slow unwinding that will take at least two years.  On the way home from the bookstore, I heard a report that those in Britain who would support Trump are those who support “Brexit.”  They are older, rural, and less educated.   The young in Britain support remaining but have a shabby record of voting. 

It is too close to call.

Jo Cox, the British MP, murdered by a man shouting “Britain first!” as he killed her while she was campaigning against “Brexit” would have turned 42 today.

Right now, led by Representative John Lewis, Democrats are staging a Congressional “sit in” to push Republicans to do something about gun control after four separate bills on the subject failed to pass, blocked by Republicans.  John Lewis is an older African American who cut his chops in the civil rights era and is taking what he learned there to literally the floor of Congress.  Representative Joe Kennedy, a scion of that famous clan, is also on the floor with him.  As is the New York Congressman just to the south of me, Sean Maloney, an openly gay man who lives with his husband and children in Rhinebeck.

Trump is stumping.  He speechified and NPR annotated.  Here is the link: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/23/us/politics/donald-trump-speech-highlights.html?_r=0

Worth reading…

Mr. Trump owns a golf course in Scotland.  Locals have raised a Mexican flag in view of the course to articulate their displeasure with the man.  He promised 6,000 jobs.  He created 150.

Since last writing, Trump has said, “You’re fired!” to Corey Lewandowski who had been his campaign manager.  Apparently, Trump’s family pressured him into it.

In Pakistan, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the assassination of Amjad Sabri, a Sufi Muslim singer, shot while heading to a performance, shortly after leaving home.  The Pakistanis are outraged.  The Taliban claimed his form of singing mystical Islamic poetry was “blasphemous.”  Most thought it beautiful.

There are at least hundreds of thousands in the Federal Prison System. Inmate No. 47991-424 is Dennis Hastert, once Speaker of the House, now imprisoned because he lied about bank transfers that were being paid to cover up he had sexually abused a boy when he was a wrestling coach.

In disturbing news, it appears the Pentagon is not letting people know if Americans are being wounded or killed in Iraq and Syria as it would “not be helpful.”  By the time the Mideast fiasco is finished we will have wasted five trillion dollars.  Five trillion dollars…

There is a lavender light over the harbor, the water is peaceful.  I am writing while watching the news with my friend Jeffrey as I slip into another almost bucolic evening in the Vineyard.  Here it is peaceful, far from the madding world.

Letter From New York 06 18 2016 via The Vineyard

June 18, 2016

It has been five days since I’ve written a “Letter.”  I’ve done some other writing but nothing that faced the world in which we live.  The death of Jo Cox, a Member of Britain’s Parliament, murdered in her district affected me deeply, a tearing of the barely forming Orlando scar off my physic skin.

Her name was vaguely familiar.  The man who has been arrested for her murder apparently shouted “Britain first!” repeatedly as he shot and stabbed her.  She was campaigning against “Brexit,” the vote for which will happen next week.

When arraigned, John Mair, the alleged killer, gave his name as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” 

A man described as gentle by his neighbors, he suffered mental health issues, assuaging them with volunteer work.  He also was in some way affiliated with a neo-Nazi group out of America.

Jo Cox’s death affected me because… 

Because it was one more example of the politics of hate in which we are all mired, because it happened in Britain where political verbal vitriol has been honed to a fine edge but where rarely are political differences manifested in physical actions.  Perhaps over football but not politics. 

And that is probably an Anglophile’s rose colored glasses view of British politics but it does seem rarer there that they have such events as Orlando, much rarer.

In the days following Orlando, a California pastor preached that all LGBTQ folks should meet the same end as the Orlando victims.  We should all be killed off.  It is not the first time in my life I have heard people call for the slaughter of the LGBTQ community but it seemed more painful this time.  We have come so far from when I was a boy.

On Thursday, in a conversation with my friends, Medora and Meryl, I told them that it was on how far we have come that I had to choose to focus or my sadness would be unbearable.  It had seemed an impossibility that in my lifetime gay individuals could exercise the right to wed.  And now we can.

I did not think in my lifetime I could speak openly of my feelings to friends who were not of my own community.

Yet these things have happened.  In my little world of Columbia County, New York I have seen the changes over the fifteen years I have been there, the opening of the community and the general acceptance by “locals” to outsiders and to outsiders were “different.”

We think the world is changing and changing for the better and then there is an Orlando, ripping at the sense of safety creeping into the world.  And then come the stories of people who remain fearful, even in New York, because a show of same sex affection could mean violence.

Only since Orlando have I come to know that the LGBTQ community is, far and away, the group that is most likely to experience hate crimes.

There seems to be some movement about more control over assault rifles. One small step, one hopes.  I had thought there would have been movement on that after the slaughter of the innocents in Newtown.  There wasn’t but now there might be.

Young Christina Grimmie, a “The Voice” alum who was shot to death last Friday by a deranged fan who then killed himself, was buried yesterday.  She, too, was killed in Orlando.

Disney there has been putting out signs to warn tourists about crocodiles and snakes after a two year old was hauled off and killed by a crocodile last week, an adorable young boy.

In Nigeria, eighteen have been killed by Boko Haram.

Belgians have arrested twelve in “terror raids” and Iraqi forces say they have retaken most of Fallujah.

Where have all the flowers gone?

To graveyards, every one…

I am sad but am choosing, must choose, not to feel hopeless and powerless.  It is beautiful outside, another in a day of beautiful days on Martha’s Vineyard.  The world is better than it has been, in many ways.  And I must remind myself of that.Vineyard View 2

Letter From New York 04 25 2016 From beheadings to Deflategate…

April 25, 2016

I’m not sure where the term “dog tired” came from but that’s what I am today, “dog tired.”  When I woke it was a grey, chill day, unremittingly grey.  At class I was struggling to get my rambunctious students to pay attention while I was helping them fill in the background of what they needed to know about media history.   

Most of them are graduating in three weeks and there are only four more classes for them and you can sense them stampeding toward the doors. 

Leaving them, I went down to Relish, the little cafe by the train station and had an egg white omelet, reading a mystery by Louise Penny while eating.  Coming home, I did a conference call and then prepped for some interviews I am doing for our community radio station tomorrow.

The American Dance Institute has purchased a rundown lumberyard in Catskill and is converting it to performance spaces and living quarters for artists while they’re in residence.  It’s an exciting project…

I am talking to Chris Bolan, their Community Relations Manager, tomorrow about the project.

So right now, I am listening to jazz, sipping a much needed martini and working on  figuring out kitchen organization.  I have more stuff than space.  What goes?  What stays and where does what stays, go?

One of the reasons I felt tired or maybe a bit depressed was that as I was walking toward my class, the phone pinged and the BBC reported a leading gay activist in Bangladesh had been hacked to death, not too long after a liberal blogger had been similarly dispensed.  I felt sad, angry, helpless, wanting to do something to change the tide of hate sweeping the world and not knowing at all what to do about it.

The afternoon brought news that a Canadian in the Philippines has been killed by an Islamist militant group.  His name was John Ridsdel, described as brilliant and compassionate; he was a 68 year old tourist from Calgary, Canada.  Beheaded, of course, in keeping with tradition.

On the American political scene, Cruz and Kasich made a pact to stop Trump by Kasich withdrawing from Indiana in favor of Cruz and Cruz withdrawing from Oregon in favor of Kasich.  After great fanfare this morning, it seems to have fallen apart by the afternoon.

It was not a good day for the New England Patriot’s Tom Brady as the courts upheld his suspension from the first four games of the season.  Deflategate has not gone away; its repercussions are still being felt and Brady’s legacy is at stake.  He could still appeal but his chances aren’t good.  The NFL may well have won.

Hard for me to figure this out as I am not a football fan; never a big fan, I was totally lost to the sport when the concussion revelations began to happen.

It is a mellow night at the cottage.  It is 7:30 and the sun has not yet gone away.  There are buds on the trees and the rhododendron are starting their bloom.  The jazz has energized me and I am happy now.  Somehow, in writing this, I have shed this day.  And I am grateful.

Thank you.