The 16th anniversary of 9/11 is less than 4 weeks away. What happened 16 years ago is overshadowed this year by continuing gun violence, attempted terrorist attacks, presidential problems, and the nuclear threat from North Korea. From now till Sept 11 2017, I will be writing about our love/hate affair with remembering America’s worse day in its history.

I would like to start off with this excerpt from my World Trade Center Journal.   I started that website in 2001 long before we had the blogs of today. For the first year it was my diary of what was happening along with my reactions and feelings and photographs of Ground Zero. This comes from my post on Oct 11, 2001 “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”:

“Tomorrow will never be the same. You, me, NYC, the US, lost something that dreadful day in Sept. We lost our innocence, our faith that tomorrow will be like the ones that came before. What we need to find, amidst the rubble of our disturbed lives, is the spark of hope. Hope that we can continue to care about one another. Hope that this nation will not destroy itself through pride and arrogance. Hope that our phrase “in God we trust” will indeed bring the grace of the Lord (however we see him/her) down upon us. For only than can we move forward beyond grief and tears, beyond the self-absorption of endless memories of the past’s horrors. Only then can we rebuild….replace the City of Sorrows with the City of Hope.”

16 years later I wonder if we have…

It’s been all over the media, the story of the woman who egged her “friend” on to commit suicide. Through the use of social media she managed to convince him that that was the best option he had. And then there was the smart, pretty 12 year old girl who committed suicide due to all the bullying she received via social media.

I wonder, if Jesus Christ were to be crucified today, how many people would pull out their iPhones and snap a picture of his agony to post on Facebook. And yet that is what we do each time we post something negative about a friend, something private about a neighbor, tear down a politician, or post a photograph which never was meant to be shared with the world. These actions crucify and create agony in the target person’s life.

You don’t have to be a bully or psychologically impaired to have your e-mails or tweets wreck havoc on someone. Just look at how our President, yes the president of the United states, has negatively impacted not only the objects of his tweets but his own presidential image. Sometimes it’s not so much the content of a social media post that is the problem but the choice of words used to express an opinion.

For good or bad, social media in all its forms is here to stay. Maybe it’s time to stop and take a look at how our social media words and pictures pollute and demean our existence and hurt the ones to whom we send it. We have the choice to spread messages of hope and beauty rather than despair and ugliness. Let’s make life better by choosing to use it for good

This quote appeared in Vol 39 no. 5 of Ornament magazine’s article “Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture” reporting on exhibits of clothing from the 60s & 70’s

“…its clothing and jewelry no longer worn, becoming archival material, but it reflected an Earth-based spirit that was tolerant, kindly and welcoming. Its better nature expressed a sort of mantra deeply woven into the American origin narrative. (my emphasis) We the people are here to form an ever more perfect union, rising above and fixing our flaws, and that noble work is constant and never ends. It was a vigilant, passionate search fifty years ago that continues to this day.”

Fun With Words

Posted: August 1, 2017 in Fun with words

Here are some colorful sayings I heard recently

I love baseball and this is what a commentator said of a player:

“He had all the energy of youth but was as dumb as a box of rocks.”

 

A radio commentator said this on a hot day:

“It’s another put your bra in the freezer Friday.”

“You’ve got to believe in small. No pebble splash starts with the outer ripple.” – Barack Obama

“If evil is contagious, so is goodness. Let us be infected by goodness and let us spread goodness!” – Pope Francis @Pontifax

Unless you’ve been away to the Antarctic the last few months, you are well aware of all the Northeast Corridor train problems. Riders, especially daily commuters, as tired of having to deal with not only long delays but also derailments that have led to injuries, and the impending cutbacks in service that Amtrak is proposing to fix all of this.

However, there is no quick fix to this as the entire rail system is over 100 years old and in grave disrepair. When I was a commuter from NJ back in the 80’s and 90’s train problems came with the lifestyle. I kept my sanity by writing, especially poetry, or engaging my fellow commuters in some positive conversation. However, there were times when service ground to a halt and friendly people became angry monsters. Enjoyable conversation was transformed into storms of hatred, nasty words became the order of the day.

Today people have to contend not only with train problems but expensive parking on the other end, long days at work, and fears of a terrorist attack. Kind words, happy words, words of encouragement, all of this are in short supply. We, the commuters, can’t fix the train problems but we can change the way we react.

Words, whether uttered out loud or spoken internally, have an effect on everything around us. What if, instead of using words of anger, we’d dispel some of the darkness with words of light. A joke, a smile with a kind thought behind it, an uplifting comment, all these would make the unbearable more bearable. Or say a prayer. Praying, especially formal ones like the Jewish Psalms or the Catholic rosary, not only are supposed to go up to God, they also have a calming effect on the one who prays. Every religion has its prayers, so whether you are Hindu or Muslim, or Native American, there are words you can utter that will lift you out of the present misery and fill the time with something more divine. And for the aetheists amongst us, read some poetry! As a poet I have always believed that poetry uplifts the inner person and connects one to the greater good in this universe (that need not be a god). Whenever you are trapped in a negative situation, remember words matter whether spoken or thought. They have power over the one who uses them, to your neighbor, and to the world in general. So…try a prayer today!