Friday, March 23, 2012

Overwhelmed

In recent months, far too many of my days have been starting off with bad news. I choose to get my news from our local newspaper. That way, I can pick and choose what I want more details about, rather than having news thrown at me by talking heads.

OK, so I may not have the very latest, up to the second news like those who regularly check for it on their electronic gadgets. Frankly, I don’t think I could handle that.

Globally, the future looks dim for both humans and animals.

Global warming is causing Polar Bears to drown because their ice flows are melting. Other animals are still being slaughtered for body parts that are believed to have curative or magical powers. Little boys are forced to take up arms while their little sisters are made sexual slaves by criminals calling themselves freedom fighters.

Speaking of little boys, a vigilante identifying himself a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, shoots dead a young Black boy because he doesn’t like the looks of him. To make matters worse, the cops, so far, have failed to take even the most basic steps to investigate what appears to the rest of us to be cold-blooded murder.

Then some idiot decides to burn old holy books forgetting or ignoring the grave crime this is considered. Not long ago, some Christian zealot got himself plenty of publicity threatening to do that very same thing. Are we all losing our short-term memory?

Women have been targeted like never before. Some legislative types want to eliminate nearly all of our personal choices and subject us to humiliating, sometimes painful and unnecessary medical procedures. I’m not talking about female genital mutilation here. That’s another despicable kind of torture in the name of tradition.

No, I’m talking about further limitations and constraints put upon women seeking abortion. I cannot think of a more difficult or personal decision that should be left up to a woman and her doctor.

Some men seem bent on turning women back into chattel. One legislator, a man, thinks that rape victims should be asked if the resulting pregnancy could have resulted from regular marital activity. He doesn’t want women “cheating the system” by claiming rape just to have an abortion. It seems a lot of men still don’t GET IT! Rape is not a sexual act. It is a criminal act to dominate and damage.

Coptic Christians in Egypt are being slaughtered by their Muslim neighbors. It now appears that Muslims and non-Muslims no longer can live side-by-side as they had for generations. Why is this?

Jewish, Christian and Muslim children are targeted. Most are too young to have any sort of role in politics. Yet they are victimized because their injuries or deaths inflict far more pain on their communities.

And too many children have known only hatred and war their entire lives. How are they going to view the world if they survive to adulthood? Will they remain isolated from the rest of the world, living out their lives in guarded enclaves of their own kind?

Censorship and absolute control of incoming and outgoing information further alienate humans from each other. There are hundreds of thousands of visible and invisible walls dividing people and they seem to grow higher every day. I’m not sure how long the human race can survive these false barriers.

Truth hurts. Starving North Koreans, child soldiers in Africa, so-called customs that dictate supremacy of one gender or race over another, religious zealotry based on flawed beliefs, homelessness, mental illness – avoiding these ills will not make them go away. Contrary to appearances, no human is disposable. Lack of wealth, opportunity and/or social status requires those who have them to share them.

Give a woman a loaf of bread and you feed her for a day. Teach a woman to make bread and she will feed herself. Then she will start a bakery, hire and train her neighbors to make more bread. Before you know it, the local economy has grown and thrived and education becomes a right rather than a privilege only for those who can afford for it.

OK, maybe I’m exaggerating -- a little. Diversity and equality are powerful partners. When every mind is given free reign, ideas can be shaped into action to benefit mankind. The first and hardest step is listening and truly hearing what others are saying and feeling. The second step is admitting that there is more than one way to view a situation or problem and many, many ways to address each. Stubborn adherence to beliefs will only separate mankind further. Tolerance and sincere consideration for the thoughts and beliefs of others is one step in the right direction.

[Can you tell I’ve been bottling-up a lot of stuff? If you’ve been kind enough to read this far, I sincerely thank you and apologize for such a big dump.]

Peace Be With You

 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Last Evening


You may have heard that D.C.'s famous Cherry Blossoms are a tad early this year.

Actually, they're incredibly early this year, but maybe that's because this is the 100th anniversary of their planting.

Most of the original trees died out years ago and were replaced, but there are still a few originals near the bridge over the Tidal basin.  They're pretty gnarly and truly look their age.

When the Japanese people gifted the trees to Washington, they were first planted in West Potomac Park, well away from other trees.  This was a precaution in case some had brought unwanted insects or diseases with them.  Some are still there, along with many younger ones planted along the drive that leads to and around Hains Point.

The picture above seemed to beg to be shot last evening.  I wish my camera could have captured how lovely the waning sunlight was, glowing through the white blossoms.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Water Color Sunset

I took this shot last Saturday evening but never got around to posting it.

Remember to set your clocks forward one hour Saturday night.  Daylight Savings Time seems very early this year, but to have more daylight, it's worth it.

Happy Weekend!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Almost There

Today is my 29th wedding anniversary. Not exactly a milestone -- those come in five and ten year increments. Still, it is significant because it denotes the day we legally and formally recognized what we’d known all along -- that we were made for each other.

We still marvel at how we came to each other. I moved to D.C. the summer of 1971, fresh out of college and a Chicago suburb. Spouse arrived during the summer of 1973, fresh out of the western oil fields of his native Iran. For a few years, he tended bar four blocks from where I lived, at the time and I worked about the same distance from where he lived, at the time. Both of us have tried to remember whether or not we ran into each other back then. Various dates took me to both of the places he worked, but I don’t remember ever seeing him and vice versa.

It wasn’t until he was between jobs and accepted a part-time gig where I was working that we met face to face. In truth, he was getting fed-up with life here. He missed his extensive family back in Iran and needed airfare to return home. Fate intervened in the nick of time.

When he first walked in to the elegant old mansion that housed the headquarters of the organization I worked for, he was wearing a plaid shirt, brown cords, acid green sneakers and a big grin. Though his hair was thinning, it was dark and framed his face rather nicely. My goose was cooked.

What had been a dumb waiter across from my office door had been converted into a small elevator years before. It was the type that had a normal door which opened to a brass gate, thus requiring two hands to use it. Spouse-to-be was tasked with moving file cabinets and boxes from an upper floor in the main building to an annex next door. Naturally, I helped with the elevator doors whenever the occasion/opportunity arose.

That man had and still has so much energy and drive! He isn’t a big, hunky guy. He is lithe and muscular like an athlete. Later I learned that he had been a provincial and national soccer champion in Iran. In D.C., he enjoyed occasional pick-up games with other immigrants in various parks around town.  The following was taken on stunningly perfect early Spring day on the Ellipse during such a game.   [Yes, that's the White House in the background.]


After so many years together, we sometimes ask each other where we might be if we had never met. Neither one of us can imagine such a scenario. During particularly trying times, I would imagine one or both of us thought we could do without the other. Heaven knows we’ve had to make huge adjustments and real sacrifices to accommodate each other over the years. Nevertheless, we’re in it for life.

Happy Anniversary, my love. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s always been worth it.