Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day 2013

Beautiful, isn't she?

Up close, she's not quite as beautiful.

From space it's hard to see toxic smoke billowing out of chimneys; a huge man-caused "island" of plastic bits floating in the beautiful, blue waters of the Pacific Ocean; crude oil seeping into the Gulf of Mexico and countless other places; rivers and lakes so contaminated it's dangerous to even touch the water.

Somestimes I think we humans are too smart (smug?) for our own good.  We develop weapons that can destroy huge chunks of continents and everything living there, leaving it uninhabitable for generations to come.

Developing poisons that kill almost instantly and usually torturously occupies minds that would be better used to find cures or preventatives for diseases.  Even the treatments we have to combat polio, malaria, measles and more don't get to the needy because of misguided or partisan thinking by those with superior weapons.

We humans are pretty blase when it comes to caring for our planet.  We are not yet to the point that we can simply abandon Earth when it becomes too toxic to support life and fly off to another planet.

Earth is hurting because of human abuse and neglect.  Selfish interests are destroying our people and our planet.  What good will all that hoarded wealth do when Earth can no longer support life?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Will they never learn?

Thugs who pull-off reprehensible deeds like detonating bombs at the Boston Marathon will never learn:

When you attack one American,
you attack every American.

It doesn’t matter if the perpetrator/s turn out to be homegrown or foreign; nothing unites Americans like an attack on innocence. For proof of this, just look back to the atrocities September 11, 2001. Yes, we all suffered, but we drew together as a nation to protect our way of life.

On April 15th, children, moms, dads, grandparents, siblings, friends and supportive strangers came out to cheer-on those participating in a grueling marathon. I’ve done it myself during Marine Corps Marathons here, in D.C. You cheer for every runner, not just your own, because they all need and deserve it.

Freedom of speech allows and empowers Americans to express their grievances. Covertly killing, maiming and terrorizing unsuspecting victims is cowardly and achieves nothing but hatred directed at those responsible.

We will grieve our losses and help those who need it any way we can. Then we will move on knowing that the American way of life works and will survive. . . .

[Even though Congress continues to refuse to put limits on the types of weapons that can be sold to the general public and with unlimited quantities of ammunition. The original Minutemen must be twirling in their graves.]

Friday, April 12, 2013

Eagles Amongst Us

An article in today’s issue of The Washington Post triggered a memory.

While foolishly juggling too many grocery bags in an effort to make one trip between the store and my car, I stumbled and dropped several. Thankfully I didn’t fall, but it was still embarrassing and annoying.

Within seconds, a strapping young man appeared seemingly out of nowhere. After making sure I was OK, he easily picking up the bags and carried them to my car and waited while I got the trunk open.

My words of thanks felt pitifully inadequate, but he just grinned and said he was an Eagle Scout and it was his pleasure to help. Having had two brothers in scouting, I knew what it took to earn that distinction. As I snapped shut my gaping mouth, I shook his hand and said I was proud to meet him.

The Boy Scouts of America have produced young men like this for more than a century. However, now, they are going to great pains to identify and excommunicate those who are “different” -- gay. It seems that some religious and secular organizations are adopting Puritan principles when it comes to sexuality.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if it was possible to gather statistics on how many boys who earned Eagle Scout status during the past century were homosexuals. Now THAT would be an eye-opener!

One reason there seems to be an explosion in the LGBT* population is that its members have organized and now have strength in numbers. They’re fighting back against decades of fear, confusion, mistrust and outright hostility to embrace their human rights. It is still an uphill fight.

Here, in the nation’s capital city as elsewhere, gay and transgender persons have been viciously attacked and/or killed because of their differences. What the Boy Scouts is doing is just as damaging psychologically.

Being excluded from something because of the way someone was born can be excruciating. I would compare it with saying you can’t join this or that because you don’t have green skin and purple eyes. LGBT people are born as they are. Think about it; why would anyone choose to be discriminated against and ostracized?

So, to the young man in Bethesda working hard to earn Eagle Scout status, I say BRAVO and don’t give up the fight. Plenty of people believe in you and hope that revealing the truth about yourself will help to change the status quo.

Every child deserves a chance to achieve excellence and to earn the praise that goes with that achievement. Scouting has been a firm advocate for that until now. It needs to step out of the mire of social disorientation and return to it’s laudable roots.

*Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Excited Anticipation

For the first time in many months, since my health dramas hit, I've found a cool diversion that should appear any day now.

The so-called 17-year locusts are coming!  Billions of them will be clawing up through soil that has held them dormant for the past 17 years.  Why they hang out underground for so long is a mystery to me.  However, their sole purpose, once they emerge, will be to find mates to procreate.

I clearly remember the last time these cool/creepy looking insects "visited" our region.  They are so hot to trot that they will fly right into people and objects in their frantic search for sexual release.  Their urgent, boisterous mating calls become a solid wall of inescapable, constant buzzing.  To my ears it sounds just like the tinnitus I hear all the time, except louder.
Photo: Seventeen-year cicada or periodical locust
Cicadas emerge from the ground as larva. They soon grab onto a tree or any other rough surface to shed their skins and free their transparent wings.  As a kid, living in the Midwest, my playmates and I spent hours trying to collect the most shells.  The sharp claws left on the shells made it possible for us to wear them on our clothing -- something we thought was truly awesome.

One benefit of this 17-year appearance is aerating the soil.  Millions of 1/2 to 1 inch holes open up as the cicadas emerge from the ground, allowing rain to reach deeper into the soil.  That's my theory anyway, and I'm sticking by it.

For those who dislike stepping on their crunchy bodies or being smacked in the face by one clumsily flying in search of love, remember that they've been without everything for 17 years and won't be around for long.  So enjoy the red-eyed, gossamer-winged critters for what they are: a miracle of nature.