Archive for the ‘Words and communications’ Category

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?)

Thanks to president Trump, the phrase “Fake News” has become part of our everyday vocabulary. Is it something new? Is it something pseudo journalists have cooked up, a current conspiracy, to dupe the public? Are we more gullible now than we were in previous times? Strangely, no. The idea of fake news has been around for centuries.

138 years ago one Canadian priest by the name of Fr. Charles Chiniquay, tried his best to promote an outrageous fake news story. He had been a friend of President Abraham Lincoln, who when he was a lawyer, had successfully defended him in a liable suit in Chicago Illinois. In 1858 Fr. Chiniquay left the Catholic Church and joined the Presbyterian Church. After Lincoln was assassinated, he believed and stated that Jesuit priests and the Vatican were the masterminds behind Lincoln’s assassination. Of course facts in stories in credible newspapers debunked this but I’m sure this “plot” appeared true to anyone who had a dislike for Catholicism!

That story has mostly been buried by the passage of time. But just think about the more “recent” assassination of JFK. All the “fake” facts that still float around, all the fake plots that were behind Lee Harvey Oswald’s motivations, live on decades later.

And for how many decades have we had the National Inquirer and newspapers of that ilk, print fake news too outrageous for a sane person to believe? Yet people do think those stories are true. So fake news has been around ever since humankind could talk, ever since the vice of gossip reared its ugly head. It’s just that “Fake News” is a more catchy name for it! I think CBS News This Morning has a great tagline for its show: “More Real News”…as if anyone can tell the difference at 5 am in the morning!

“Blood Brothers” is a Native American term meaning two men, through the commingling of their blood in a ceremony, swear allegiance to each other. They are brothers not by birth but by choice. Recently, in the midst of all the rhetoric spoken about uniting this country, we hear the phrases “we all bleed red” or “we all bleed the same blood”.  This is the same sentiment spoken by Chief Standing Bear, 138 years ago, when the US government forced the Ponca tribe to uproot and move from their homelands. Standing Bear, in defense of his desire not to have his tribe relocated, went to court and said these words as part of his speech: “That hand is not the color of yours. But if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. I am a man. The same God made both of us.” (emphasis mine) Sound familiar….?