Archive for the ‘Words and communications’ Category

“Why did I survive? I was a frail boy, didn’t be pushy…not strong…” Eli Weisanthal asked. His answer was that God needed someone to tell a story. That was his mission in life, why he was born, why he lived, to witness the horror and write about it and teach about it as a good educated man, with anger but also with a sense of justice. Of the thousands of voices who survived, his was the “tenor” for God. To sing the opera of evil, in words in 47 books, and to countless students through the ensuing decades.

So who is the “voice”, the story teller who witnessed and survived 9/11? Do we have a survivor who was there, trapped, went through it all, survived because God’s hand shielded him? And is this human being strong enough to walk, as Weisel did, to recount the story, to make sure we never forget?

Or has our world set up such a culture or society that an Eli Weisel survivor is not possible? Where are you, story teller for the damned of that day? Where are your words, your strength, your anger? How many people did Weisel help through his words to heal (if ever “healing” from such a wound were possible), how much evil did he hunt down to justice? Is there such a person walking our streets? Or were the WTC survivors all buried eventually in the dust of their own pain, voices muffled, not one cry to ever more be heard?

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“They’ve compared 9/11 to Pearl Harbor. In many ways that’s an accurate comparison. But it differs in a number of significant and psychologically important ways. After Pearl Harbor war was declared on ONE country and the ENTIRE Nation rose up to join in the efforts of defeating Japan. Today, we have the slippery world of the terrorists. They can exist anywhere. And we are not united in a war effort because this war is being fought on a higher technological and political plane. Those of us who can’t join our fighting forces have nothing to do except wave our flags and contribute to the many charities that have sprung up. There also is the fact that once we defeated Japan, there was an end. We had vindicated our dead, we could dance in the streets. We were once again safe. Not so now. If there was a beginning, there will be no definitive end. We will never be safe.”

I go on to write about how hard it is to escape 9/11 imagery and yet how I hunger for more and more of it:

“ And thus grief, the world, and my life has taken on an almost schizophrenic existence.

I think that what I have encountered is the emotional equivalent of AIDS. It is a virus lodged in my and others psyches. The usual balm will not route it out. At present there is no cure. Will I die from it? Like the AIDS patient who has lived with her disease for years, there are ways to cope. In time we will discover our alpha interferon. And it will not be a cure. But life will go on. Me and you, and the widows and heroes will learn to live with the reminders and the pain. And our lives will all be different. And in the end we will die. Some from not being able to cope, some from what surely will be other terrorist acts, and others from old age. Everything has changed…and yet…nothing. Life must go on. For the best memorial that I or anyone can erect, is a life well lived to the best of ones abilities. And to make that life count to the betterment of all humankind. Today’s generations and the ones of a tomorrow yet to come.” – from my WTC Journal post on March 25, 2002 “When Will It End – Part 2”

So 16 years in, have we? Are we living our best lives as a memorial to those who died? Are we bettering humankind?

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

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!

After yesterday’s horrendous act of violence in Great Britain, I’m sure many people want vengeance. This morning I came across a quote from Pope Francis. He said it during his Angelus Address on Feb 19. It reflects on Jesus’ teaching about turning the other cheek and how the law of love overcomes that of retaliation; it describes the difference between justice and vengeance:

“We are allowed to ask for justice; it is our duty to practice justice. On the other hand, we are forbidden to revenge ourselves or to encourage vengeance in any way, insofar as it is an expression of hatred or of violence.”

What a difference the location of a little “:” can make

THE ART OF TASTING PARKING:”

The subject header of the e-mail had it correctly placed “The Art of Tasting: Parking at lot 4A”

but I got a chuckle out of the rewrite in the body ( Are VWs sweeter than Subarus?)