Posts Tagged ‘Thirty Years War’

Letter From New York 05 15 2016 Isn’t interesting…

May 16, 2016

This is one of the most enjoyable moments I have in a week, sitting at the dining room table, jazz playing in the background, the sun setting, looking across the deck to the wild woods across the creek, pulling together my thoughts as the sun slowly sets.

This morning I re-read my last online post [www.mathewtombers.com].  In the last part I wrote about Islam and the West having to come to terms with each other and as I read it I thought: whoa, Islam must come to peace with itself.  IS is mostly killing other Muslims.  Those numbers dwarf the numbers they have killed in Paris and Brussels and New York and London.  They die by the hundreds and thousands in Iraq and Syria alone.  Not to mention Yemen, which seems to be to Sunni and Shia what Spain was to Fascists and Republicans in the 1930’s.

We note with great care and deep exegesis the murders in the West and the daily drumbeat of death in Baghdad, Aleppo and Yemen is a footnote.  Muslims are mostly slaughtering other Muslims.

Not unlike the way Christians slaughtered other Christians in the 15th, 16th and 17th Centuries.  We had the Thirty Year War, which started as a religious war and became so much more.  The Muslims seem to be having their Thirty Year War and it is much scarier because technology is so much more advanced.

And while they fight amongst themselves, some of them  rage against the West, those who are Fundamentalist Muslims.  They see us as abominations.

One late night here at the cottage I wondered if I was living a bit like a Roman in the 2nd or 3rd Century CE, knowing the darkness was coming and unable to prevent it so enjoying the present as much as possible. 

That’s a bit melodramatic I suppose.  Events are still playing out.  Outcomes can be changed. 

The forces at work in our lives are terrifying.  We have a saber rattling Putin, who denies everything negative, and a major religion that is going through an existential crisis, manyßåå of them thinking nothing of killing as a policy. 

In college, I took an Honors course on Medieval Islamic Civilization and they were civilized.  Something has gone very wrong there and, hopefully, for all of us, they will sort it out.

In the meantime, the rest of the world keeps moving.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. 

Not being mentally healthy is a debilitating stigma many carry.  As someone who has been in therapy since he was sixteen, I empathize.  It is not, in many places, åstill, now, acceptable to talk about.

And it saved my life. And in the years between then and now, many members of my family have taken me aside to thank me for having broken the dam.  I was the first and I was pretty loud about it too.  Everyone knew. Everyone rolled their eyes at me, then they began quietly to look for their own therapists.

We are still dealing with racial issues and we are still dealing with mental stigmas. So good there is a Mental Health Awareness Month.  We need all the mental health we can get.

Our politics continue to look like a sideshow. Friends who live in Japan, Australia, Europe ask me what is going on?  I don’t know.  Does anyone?  There has been nothing like this in my lifetime and it is a bit scary.

I have been reading articles about the raucous Nevada Democratic Convention and I haven’t parsed  the events quite but there was a showdown between the Bernie supporters and the Hillary supporters.  Hillary won but her supporters are worried about a similar scene playing out at the national convention.

It has grown dark now.  The sun has set.  While it is mid-May, the temperature is going down to 34 tonight so we are not actually in real Spring yet. I had to turn up the heat tonight.  I might yet light a fire.

The jazz lures me to a quiet place of introspection.

Letter From New York August 11, 2014

August 11, 2014

Letter From New York
August 10, 2014
Or, as it seems to me…

Sunday mornings usually have a bit of a ritual. I wake up, start the coffee I’ve prepared the night before and while sipping that first, oh so important, cup peruse the New York Times on either my iPhone or my iPad. If I am ambitious, which is not as often as I think it should be, I go down to Christ Church for services.

At some point on Sunday, I go through the “Weddings/Celebrations” section of the Times. It gives me great pleasure to see same sex wedding announcements. I didn’t think that would ever happen in my lifetime. So I honor those folks by reading their stories. Many of them cause me to smile.

I think I enjoy it because it gives me a sense of hope for the world; that we’re actually moving on from old prejudices. It is heartening in a frequently disheartening world, a gentling of the world, reflected in one major thing having changed in the universe.

My good friends, David and Annette, came up this weekend and stayed with me. We celebrated years of friendship over an excellent dinner of farm fresh foods – salad fixings direct from the garden, recently butchered organic meat, summer squash, potatoes pulled from the earth only the day before. They brought an excellent Pinot Noir and we ate at the dining room table after David had grilled the steaks on the barbeque. Spectacular.

We had great conversation. The world is fodder for it and it is impossible to run away from the trouble that is assaulting the world. Ebola is now an International Health Crisis. Ann Coulter has raged against the doctor who contracted the disease while serving as a Christian missionary in Africa. He should have stayed home according to her.

ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, now controlling a great swath of the both Syria and Iraq, seems determined to drag the region they control back to feudal times. Christians have been driven from their homes, as have Yazidis, who practice a faith that seems to combine Christianity, Islam and Zoroasterism. They, along with Christians and Shiites are “infidels” who deserve to die according to ISIS. Some Yazidis have been reported buried alive and some women taken as slaves while other have fled to the desert hot Mount Sinjar, where there has been some relief provided by the US dropping humanitarian supplies while fighter planes and drones attack the advancing ISIS troops, who are proving hard to beat back.

There is not a huge amount I can do about the Christians and Shia and Yazidis, except to donate to relief services – though I haven’t seen many appeals.

We are a world in need. I agonize over the daily pleas I get from any number of worthy causes, sometimes slipping toward a kind of despair because the needs are far greater than my wallet. We have a border crisis that revolves around children, illegal immigrants, yes, but children too. Many of them are fleeing San Pedro Sula in Honduras, now the murder capital of the world, a city I visited as a teen when my brother was running a clinic for children in nearby El Progresso, itself then described as the “armpit of Central America.” Things have gone from bad to worse there – as they seem to be in so many places, going from bad to worse.

It is unbelievable to me in some ways that I can have a wonderful and civilized dinner with two wonderful and civilized friends while some thousands of miles away ISIS is burying alive people because they believe differently. It reminds me of the way Catholics and Protestants treated each other several centuries ago during the Thirty Years War.

We live, so many of us, blessed lives here in the West while in other parts of the world madmen seem to roam freely, seeking to enforce a way of life that appears insane to us in the West. I wouldn’t call the leadership of ISIS enlightened.

But then we are the Infidel.

Letter From New York November 25, 2011

November 29, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

My birthday is just past; I was feted to a fair thee well by friends over my birthday weekend, starting on my birthday eve with Lionel and Pierre at Thai Market, followed by a Friday evening dinner at the fabulous Robert on the 9th floor of the Museum of Art and Design at Columbus Circle, with a stunning view up Broadway, to five hours of haunting the New York Antique Show with my friend Paul, who then took me to dinner, followed by Todd Broder taking me to brunch and so it went on and on and on and I admit I allowed myself to be smothered in all kinds of affection over the weekend, for which I was very grateful.

It is Thanksgiving morning and I am curled on the couch at the cottage with the sun pouring in while glistening off the creek; in the distance are the morning cries of the geese flocks that call the creek home.

These are moments of self-indulgence, of celebratory rejoicing, of placid enjoyment of the time, moments when one can shutter out the harsher realities of our world. This morning, as I perused the digital version of the New York Times, I stumbled upon an article that posits that we, as a human race, are getting nicer.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/24/opinion/kristof-are-we-getting-nicer.html?_r=1&src=tp

When I saw the headline, I raised my eyebrows. How, in the century of 9/11, could we think that the human race is getting “nicer”? But the writer makes a strong case that historically, we are. May it be so. If so, we should be grateful that there may be an evolutionary process happening with mankind that heralds a better age for all.

As I left a breakfast at Pershing Square yesterday, the man with whom I was meeting, paused on the street and commented on how lucky we were to have had a good breakfast in a good restaurant, talking about interesting things. Compared with 99.9% of the world, my life is absolutely magical, which I remind myself of as often as I can as and if we, as a human race, are becoming nicer, then indeed we must be grateful on this Thanksgiving.

It is a good thought; a powerful one that comes at a good time because when we look around we can find reason enough for despairing shakes of the head. Because we are so wired together we learn of every brutal hiccup in the process of the evolution heralded by Mr. Pinker in his book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature” and commented upon by the notable Nicholas Kristoph in his NY Times column today. The Thirty Years War, fought, at least partially, over religion, decimated much of what is now Germany while killing off a third of the population. As grim and stupid as the Iraq war has been, it has not affected that kind of mortality, at least to date.

Some of the thoughts ring true if stunning when thought. “Today’s conservatives are more liberal than yesterday’s liberals.” Yes, let us hope so.

On such a beautiful day, with soft jazz playing, sunlight bursting into the room, with promises of magnificent food in the hours ahead, with the great good company of my friends Larry and Alicia, it is a day to be both thankful and hopeful.

One of the dazzling aspects of human nature is that we as a race do change and against the darkness of our own acts have the capability to hope and to believe in a better future.

I am thankful today. I am hopeful today. May you all have grand and hopeful Thanksgivings as well…