Archive for the ‘Words and communications’ Category

Suicide…if you’ve ever known anyone who committed suicide or had to console someone who lost a love one to it, you know how this word will stab you in the heart forever in time.

However, not all suicides are alike in the pain they create. I’m not talking about comparing the note leaving kind to the “done it to get attention” one. What I am referring to is asking the question “Can any good ever come from this terrible act?” I got to thinking about how some suicides, though emotionally painful to those who knew the individual, bring a good in the aftermath. Others just leave anger, hatred toward the person and negative unfinished business.

An example of the latter is Jeffery Epstein’s suicide this past weekend. No one knows why he did it but speculation has he could not tolerate the thought of being locked up in a box for 45 years. Poor guy…now all his victims will never have closure and never be able to see him brought to justice. He refused to suffer the consequences for his heinous acts so now his bad karma will contaminate the survivors of it for their lifetimes.

On the other hand, we have Anthony Bourdain’s suicide. We also don’t know why this kind, intelligent human being who produced such a great TV show as Parts Unknown, decided to take his life. But his good karma follows him even after his death. His life and his adventures have been showcased in the year since his death even to the point where his friends and CNN created an “Anthony Bourdain Day” this past June to honor him. I am also amazed as to where his name pops up. In my recent issue of Cowboys & Indians magazine, as part of the Editor’s Notes, Dana Joseph referenced him as a person who was a one of a kind artist (cook, chef, explorer, the Aug/Sept issue always focuses on artists) and mentions Anthony Bourdain Day. (There is also a “Bourdain Food Trail” in New Jersey based on the episode in Parts Unknown)

We discover that a word like suicide, standing alone can hurt, heal or have two emotional sides. Now I’m waiting, to see if after decades of “mass shootings”, any good can come from those two words. I believe that anything is possible through prayer and action. So Congress, I’m praying that you move your butts on gun control! That could transform those two horrendous words into something positive.

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This poem is dedicated to those who died in the shootings in El Paso Texas and Dayton Ohio

She stands in the harbor
A tear in her eye
As bullets in El Paso fly.

She stands in the harbor
Her torch a dim light
As nine are murdered in Dayton that night.

She stands in the harbor
Stoic in her pain
As more bullets from guns rain.

Her cities turned to killing fields
Littered with mass shooting’s dead.
The river in the harbor runs blood red.

Citizen against citizen no value for life.
Such hatred for strangers in her land;
Is her country damned?

She can’t stop the killing, but someone must.
When will this hatred be addressed?
“Give us your hungry, your tired, your oppressed.”

What do Pope Francis and President Donald Trump have in common? They both have a social media presence. Specifically, they both use Twitter to reach out to their followers. However, the similarity ends there. You could not have two more divergent tweeting styles than these two individuals.

I’m not talking about specific content. We all know that the Pope would not tweet about the Russian investigation, and Trump would not tweet about matters of scripture. What is so diverse is the style, the approach, and the reasons each has for using this specific social media platform.

President Trump loves to get up in the middle of the night and dash off a tweet. In fact “dashing off” a tweet is his signature style regardless of whether it enhances or debases the message he’s planning to send. The Pontiff, on the other hand, has a staff who culls tweet worthy messages for him to use. However, they do not send it for him until he has reviewed it. Nonetheless, you would never find him sitting at his desk after dinner and spontaneously sending a tweet!

“Some people can be good on Twitter, and other people can realize that Twitter brings out the worse in them,” he [Bishop Paul Tighe] said. Quoted in American Magazine, January 8, 2018 – Following Francis: The Pope’s Social Media Ministry Takes Off

Wouldn’t it be nice if President Trump took this quote to heart. We’d have a lot less controversy running through the White House these days.

Although the Pope doesn’t tweet about politics specifically, he does comment on topics that impact humanity across the globe: a 2017 tweet dealt with “welcome migrants and foreigners”, and one in 2015 was about the earth looking like “an immense pile of filth.”

According to the social media analytics group, Twiplomacy, from 2013-2015 the Pope was the most influential global leader on Twitter. In 2016 he became number four, knocked out by, you guessed it, candidate Trump! The Pope and the President continue to battle it out for the title of most followed global leader on Twitter, though Trump has consistently taken the lead since last summer. Both men have over 40 million followers but they both still have a long way to go to catch up with pop stars Katy Perry’s 108 million followers and Justin Bieber’s 104 million followers!

 

What’s in a word? The words we use to describe people, events, or our environments ultimately color our view about them. In my previous blog post, Facing An Invasion, I investigated how the word “invader”, applied to the immigrant/refugee caravan on our southern boarder, colors our attitudes toward these people. In this posting I would like to explore applying to them the word “pilgrim”.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a pilgrim with a small p as one who journeys in foreign lands; one who travels to a shrine or holy place as a devotee; The Oxford dictionary also adds: A person traveling to a place of particular personal interest i.e.“thousands of pilgrims converged in Memphis for the 16th anniversary of Presley’s death”

We all know that a pilgrim with a capital P refers to the one of the English colonists settling at Plymouth in 1620.

My question is: can we consider the people trying to enter our country as pilgrims?

I came across a fascinating interview of an author who wrote a book around the topic of how the immigrants of today mirror the Pilgrims of yesteryear.

In British author Rebecca Fraser’s book, The Mayflower: The Families, the Voyage, and the Founding of America, she addresses the question of why the Pilgrims left their home country. Just like the immigrants of today, she says they were treated with disrespect and forced to live in hovels and take low-level jobs that nobody else wanted. She also makes the point that many of today’s refugees from other countries are surgeons and doctors and lawyers who have nothing to show for their status in their home country. Like the Pilgrims they came here fleeing oppression, leaving not only material goods behind but also their entire way of life and identities to start over in freedom. (Interview by Randy Dotinga for the Christian Science Monitor, November 20, 2017 https://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2017/1120/How-do-the-Pilgrims-relate-to-immigrants-today)

(yes, yes, I know, most of the “refugees” camped on our boarder are not doctors or lawyers, but like the Pilgrims, they are fleeing intolerable situations in their home countries be it political or economical.)

In another article, American Spirit, The Pilgrims Were the Original Refugees, Michael Daly writes for the Daily Beast:

“In that sense, all the refugees who followed,[the Pilgrims] the Irish and the Jews and the Syrians and the rest, have been pilgrims. And all these pilgrims have given thanks of some kind, if not a historic feast of wild turkey and venison, then at least a heartfelt sigh of relief.”

He also recounts the Elmaris family from Syria’s journey to the United States, saying, “They then set to building a new life with the spirit that has always made America great [my emphasis], the spirit of the refugees who have come here.” 11/25/15 https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-pilgrims-were-the-original-refugees

The immigrants and refugees of the 21st century are indeed on a journey to something holy. They are seeking America’s most scared and holy value “freedom”.  Robert Cushman, a church leader, in a famous sermon, said immigration was a solution if there was nowhere for people to exercise their talents, which he called “that knowledge, wisdom, humanity, reason, strength, skill, faculty, etc. which God hath given them.”

Our modern immigrants/refugees are fleeing from threats to their lives, and oppression for their beliefs. They are seekers of a higher, good freedom, and even those who are uneducated are seeking a better economic existence being willing to take the lowest level jobs our country has to offer. Doesn’t that meet the definition of pilgrim with both Ps?

However, if you want to do a rebuttal to this posting, do a Google search on “pilgrim vs immigrant”. You’ll find lots of information to back up an opposing viewpoint!

All during the holidays we hear our old favorite songs and ones newly written ones. I can’t help thinking about all the “invaders” stuck down in Mexico who are going to have a horrible Christmas this year. And I’m not talking about gifts or a sparkly tree. These people have fled intolerable conditions in their home countries and are now having to tolerate terrible physical conditions in Mexico. Regardless of what your opinion is on immigration, whether you do consider them invaders or not, no one should have to spend Christmas day packed into tents.

This poem was written after I heard the story about a man and his daughter who were seeking asylum and forced back into Mexico. When finally they were allowed in to plead their case, the daughter was malnourished and sick and she subsequently died. No Christmas joy for that man this year!  (can be sung to the tune of the popular song “Hallelujah”)

Broken Hallelujah

 

He walked the thousand miles to here

With his daughter and had no fear;

Stopped and ask us for asylum.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

 

He let himself be taken in

Didn’t see crossing the border as a sin;

Fleeing the horrors from where he came from.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

 

It now was almost Christmas day

He and his daughter continued to pray

That our great nation would grant him asylum.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

 

Instead he was told to turn away

He could not stay for even a day

And spent the week on a cot with little food.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

 

They finally let them cross the line

But for his daughter it wasn’t in time

She died and Christmas did not to come this year.

Hallelujah, Halle…

In recent weeks, a big question has been banging around in my mind about the word “invasion”. President Trump has used that word to describe the caravan of Central American refugees who are marching towards the U.S. Regardless of what my or your opinion is on whether they should be let into our country, I just can’t accept them as an invasion force.

The dictionary defines invade (invasion is the act of) as: “to attack; to enter with hostile intentions; to encroach upon (to invade the rights or possessions of another).

Can one really say that a group of individuals, mainly consisting of women and children and men whose intentions is flight from countries that threaten their lives or just to attain a better living standard, are “invaders”? When we think of invaders don’t we usually think of Attilla the Hun, and Genghis Khan and their hordes? Don’t we see Hitler with his army and armaments taking over a European country?

In those 3 examples I gave, the common denominators are hostility, aggression, and use of force through armaments (arrows, guns, bombs). Not to mention, containing sizable numbers of trained solders to execute those hostilities. These poor people approaching us have no weapons (except maybe a pocket knife or two), they don’t want to “take us over” and that would be ludicrous anyway since they are 5,000, more or less, against a population in the U.S. of millions. Furthermore, they would gladly be “captured” if it meant asylum. They love the US, otherwise why would they be making this thousands of miles trek to come to us.

OK, it is true that there are always bad apples among every group. But so far no guns, no killing, nothing except some rock throwing has surfaced. And unless they had the biblical David’s skill with a slingshot, they are incapable of doing much physical harm. Yes, their illegal attempt to enter our country would be a violation of our laws. But do we have to demonize them? Do we have to have a campaign of fear and hate placed on them? After all the horrific shootings in the last 2 weeks, do we need yet more hate to be planted in our hearts? I just pray that when they eventually do arrive at our boarders, I will not awake to the sound of gunshots on the morning news.

Malpractice: Professional impropriety or negligence. Usually we hear this word in connection with medical lawsuits and other legal issues. However, I recently came across a very interesting use of it in relation to President Trump. Some politician, whose name I failed to catch as the news station flashed the Tweet across the screen, used it in conjunction with Trump’s attempt to override the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment with an executive order. The Tweet said that he would be practicing “political malpractice”!

 

Regardless where one stands on the issue of whether or not a person born in the US to parents who are aliens should be given citizenship rights, the problem here is the fact that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Yes, its amendments have been open to interpretation (i.e. the right to bear arms issue), however, we have a system of checks and balances in our legal system and there is a formal process of how to go about changing or adding an amendment. An executive order cannot do that. Trump should know this as he swore to uphold the Constitution when he was sworn in as president! The Constitution will always, pun intended, trump a Trump!