Posts Tagged ‘Jimmy Carter’

Letter From New York 10 08 2016 Chosen responsibilities and disgusting words…

October 8, 2016


My morning yesterday began with me flipping my laptop open and sitting down to write as a soft fog floated above the creek with sunlight glistening down through the leaves in the midst of changing color.

Just as I sat down to write, a mug of strong coffee at my side, the mother of a friend phoned and let me know her son was in the hospital and had been asking for me.  So I came and sat in his dim room, spelling his mother while she went home to shower and change into fresh clothes.

At two I had a conference call and then I made dinner for Lionel and his family.

The day unrolled in an unexpected way but that is life, unexpected.  It also made me think about how we have, in addition to our real families, families of choice.

My life, thankfully, is full of them.  Blessedly.  And for that I am grateful.

Since I have moved to Hudson, my friend’s family has been that way to me and I went to the hospital to perform the responsibilities of having made a choice.   Choices do come with responsibilities.

Out in the wide world, the cold open for last week’s Saturday Night Live was a send-up of the Trump/Clinton debate with Alec Baldwin doing a magnificent satire of Donald Trump.  It aired the night before the tax revelations.  Pundits wondered which was worse for him, the tax revelations or Alec Baldwin.  The video has gone viral.  If you haven’t seen it, look for it at the end of the post.

Thursday night, Lionel and I went to Coyote Flaco for dinner.  As usual, we sat at the bar.  Seated to my left was Tim and, as happens sometimes, we got talking.  After I had introduced myself, I introduced Lionel, joking he sounded funny because he was from Australia.

Tim, the man to my left, said, oh, I’ve never been there but am thinking of moving there if Hillary is elected.  Lionel retorted he was thinking of returning if Trump was elected.

It didn’t get ugly.  Tim said he couldn’t vote for her because she had done nothing but be in government service.  Not exactly true but close enough.

Asking him if he knew who FDR was, he said no.  So I said Franklin Delano Roosevelt and he said he didn’t know him because he was just little when he was in office.  He asked me if I’d been alive when he was in office and I said he’d died before I was born.

The poor man didn’t really know.  And, by the way, Tim is younger than I am.

After we left, I thought about it and realized most Presidents we have had have spent much of their lives in public service.  Let’s see…

FDR did spend most of his life in public service, seeing us through the Great Depression and WWII.  He was followed by Harry Truman who had worked in the private sector for a while but spent the majority of his career in public service, followed by Dwight Eisenhower who certainly spent his whole life in public service, followed by John Kennedy, who had done the same.

Lyndon B. Johnson owned some businesses but mostly was in public service his whole life, followed by Richard Nixon who, too, had spent most of his life in public service, followed by Gerald Ford, lots of public service there, followed by Jimmy Carter, who was a peanut farmer before his Presidency but he, too, gave a great deal of his life to public service.  Then came Ronald Reagan, who had made his living as an actor before he went into public service.

He was followed by Bush 1, who had spent much of his life in public service, followed by Clinton, who had done the same.  W had been in the private sector but then went on to be Governor and then President.  Obama has spent much of his life in public service.

Being in public service has become pejorative in this election and I am not sure why.

Then, yesterday, all Billy Bob broke out over a 2005 video of Trump saying all kinds of things I can’t and won’t repeat.  If you are interested, you can find them.

Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, was “sickened” by them and disinvited Trump to a Republican gathering in his home state of Wisconsin.

A few Republican politicians have withdrawn their endorsements and it is rumored some Republican leaders are quietly gathering to see what is to be done about Trump.

It’s a little late; the ballots have been printed.

Letter From Claverack 08 12 15 An interesting evening in Claverack…

August 12, 2015

Yesterday, the world was drenched with rain; it continued through the night and when I went for my morning coffee the deck was sodden but the sky was bright with sunshine and hope for the day. The creek was a muddy brown and high from all the rain.

There was a bit of a chill in the air; so much so that I didn’t want to venture out onto the deck for that morning cup of coffee and a perusal of the Times. I returned to bed and read there, sipping coffee and enjoying the warmth of my bedroom.

I had an 11:00 AM meeting in Hudson. Finishing that, I went down to Relish and had the soup of the day, wandered up to Ca’Mea for a glass of wine while finishing reading the book I had and then home. It was a thoroughly civilized afternoon.

Now I am at home; jazz is playing on Pandora. I am on the deck. While the creek is still a bit muddy, it is reflecting back the green from the trees in that wonderful mirror like quality it can have. The setting sun is warm on my back; the threatened thunderstorms have not materialized today.

As I often do, I feel content here on the deck, looking over the creek, music in the background. It fills me with an enormous peace.

However, while I have been living in the peaceful bubble of Martha’s Vineyard and the cottage, the world has not been peaceful.

In Tianjin, China at least seven people have been killed and at least 300 injured in a blast. That is not peaceful. And it is not peaceful in the markets today. The Chinese are devaluing the Yuan and that is causing market hysteria. Something is askew in China and the devaluation of the Yuan is the harbinger. They are in trouble in China and these moves are reflections of those troubles. The markets in China have been crashing. Something profound is going on in China and we all need to pay attention because it will affect everything in our lives. China is now that big. They’re in trouble and are trying to contain that trouble.

A Croatian, kidnapped in Cairo, has apparently been beheaded by IS in the Sinai. That, too, is not peaceful.

Jimmy Carter, the best ex-President we’ve had, is 90 years old and now suffering from cancer. Well-wishers are coming out of the woodwork. I didn’t vote for him but wasn’t sorry he was elected. His Presidency was flawed but his presence since then has been unflawed. We are nearing the end of his life and I will be sorry to see him go when he does, probably farther in the future than we imagine.

Kim Jong-un, that pudgy little North Korean dictator, has been executing more people that don’t agree with him. He lines them up and lets a huge cannon blow them to smithereens. Just the sort of thing one expects from him. The most recent victim seemed to have disagreed with him on his forestry policy. Ouch. Not a pretty way to go.

When I was young I wanted to be an Egyptologist. It is not what happened with my life but I am still fascinated. There are those who say that behind the walls of the tomb of King Tutankhamen may lay the tomb of his mother, Nefertiti, who has entranced us forever. I spent an hour with her statue in Berlin a year or so ago. She is a haunting creature that has captured our attention for thousands of years. I will wait for this story to play out. I am fascinated by it. Never became an Egyptologist but doesn’t mean I’m not interested.

The sun sets in the west. It is a beautiful evening in Claverack. I rejoice in being here, far from the madness that rules the world.

Letter From New York October 30, 2010

October 30, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

The last week has been more than a bit business mad; Odyssey Networks has been doing a whole series of productions. I fell into the role of point person for them. We sent a man to Nigeria to shoot footage of the Imam and the Pastor, a Christian pastor and a Muslim Imam who have emerged from the religious warfare in that country as spokesmen for peace and interfaith hope. Pastor Wuye lost his hand in the violence, chopped off by a Muslim. It became the moment he moved beyond his hatred to embrace a different way. He and the Imam have become a team, founded a mediation center in Kaduna in Nigeria and have become world famous for their efforts.

They were honored on the 26th at the We Are Family Foundation Gala with the Mattie J. Stepanek Award. Mattie, if you recall, was the extraordinary boy who spent his brief life besieged by a rare form of muscular dystrophy, which killed him weeks shy of his fourteenth birthday. He wrote books on peace, became a national personage because of his presence on the Oprah Winfrey Show and was eulogized at his funeral by President Jimmy Carter, with whom he co-wrote a book. The Imam and the Pastor describe Mattie as a prophet, as he might well have been. Certainly his words echo beyond the time encapsulated by his short life.

I met them briefly at the Gala, introduced by Jonathan Smith, the producer whom we had sent to Nigeria to get the footage. There was a sense about them of peace and joy, calm in the center of a tumultuous world, a presence that was tranquil and slightly transcendental. It was an honor; it was a moment I won’t forget, two men, once sworn enemies, standing together now against the ravages of the violence that racks their land. Six months ago Christians and Muslims were killing each other in the Jos Valley, the place both call home. When they left New York, they were headed for Sudan where they had been asked to lead a Peace Conference in that country, which is edging toward potential violence as it advances toward a referendum that might split the country in two. If it goes that way, there is a chance war will break out and the land that is home to infamous Darfur will once again be racked by violence, the victims of which will mostly be the poor, the desperate, the defenseless.

Nigeria, the Sudan, the Middle East, Columbia, India, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan… The list of countries wracked by violence, war, revolution, counter-revolution, insurgency goes on and on. Do we think daily of lawless Somalia, home to modern pirates that regularly seize ships in the Gulf of Aden, holding them for ransom? No, probably not. But while we live our reasonably secure lives, vast parts of the globe are war zones or de facto war zones. Jonathan described the vast sea of tension and fear that swirls through the streets of Nigerian cities as no one knows when the next bout of sectarian violence will erupt, bringing more pain and death into their lives. It is not uncommon that Muslims and Christians will chop away fingers or hands [witness Pastor Wuye] to remind their victims of their hate. The streets are filled with the disfigured.

Against this tide of religious vitriol, individuals like the Pastor and the Imam work as best they can to bring sanity into the world in which they live, to bridge the hatred, roots of which are now forgotten but not relinquished.

Against this hatred are the words of a child, Mattie Stepanek, the actions of two men of God, who stand with other men of good that dot the world, seeking in some small way to change the world, to offer an alternative to the generations of killing. For if we do not find some alternative, we will never find a way out of the vortex, one that is now more dangerous than ever as religious divide, hatred and extremism fills men who have capacity to wreck global havoc.