On Re-defining Language …

Way back in the first days of Trump’s administration, Kellyanne Conway said that there can be ‘alternative facts’.  Trump and then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer made wild and visually-disputable claims that the crowd at Trump’s inauguration was ‘the largest ever’, and even ‘larger than Obama’s’, neither of which were even remotely true.  When questions, Kellyanne said, “Well, you know, there can be alternative facts”.  No, Kellyanne, there cannot, for facts are proven and undisputable.  Nonetheless, alternative facts became the norm in the Trump administration, although most of us have another name for them:  lies.

Not only did Trump and his minions hold tight to the use of alternative facts, but they took it a step further and began to re-define various words.  ‘Good’, for example, when used by a trumpeter, can generally be assumed to have the opposite meaning.  When a republican lawmaker says he supports something, such as healthcare protections, it generally means he voted to gut ACA.  And the list goes on.

Last Monday, Trump took on the definitions of two more words:  globalist and nationalist.

“Radical Democrats want to turn back the clock. Restore the rule of corrupt, power-hungry globalists. You know what a globalist is, right? A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly not caring about our country so much. And, you know what? We can’t have that.”

“You know, they have a word, it sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist. And I say, ‘Really? We’re not supposed to use that word,’ You know what I am? I’m a nationalist. OK? I’m a nationalist. Use that word. Use that word.”

According to Merriam-Webster …

Definition of nationalism

1 : loyalty and devotion to a nation

especially : a sense of national consciousness (see CONSCIOUSNESS sense 1c) exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups

Intense nationalism was one of the causes of the war.

Throughout history, words have evolved, and while there is nothing sinister about the first part of this definition, “loyalty and devotion to a nation”, the rest of the definition brings on images of jackboots on cobblestones.  It dates back to the 17th century and rose into prominence during the uprisings in the 18th century that produced the American and French revolutions. But the word attained even more of a negative connotation during the 20th century as it become associated with the nationalism movements in Europe that helped lead to World War I and World War II. Today the word is often associated with the far-right, racist ideologies of white nationalists.

Nationalism has been on the rise worldwide, as evidenced by the success of nationalist political parties in Europe. And it had a double bang in 2016, as it powered Brexit in the UK and the election of Trump as US President. Steve Bannon, Trump’s former top strategist, said Trump used an “economic nationalist agenda” to win.

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘globalism’ …

A person who advocates the interpretation or planning of economic and foreign policy in relation to events and developments throughout the world.

Trade, protection, the environment … these are all issues that require global cooperation.  Remember 11 September 2001?  U.S. airspace was shut down, yet there were incoming planes filled with people with nowhere to go.  What happened?  Our friends the Canadians opened their airports, as well as their homes and their hearts, let our planes land, took stranded passengers into their homes, fed them … this is part of what globalism is about … see anything evil in that?

Trump has now declared that he is against globalism and is a nationalist, yet the majority of the people in this nation do not want to be an isolationist nation for we see the very real dangers.  We need our friends around the globe, just as they need us, and Mr. Trump has it all wrong … ALL WRONG … if he thinks that shunning other nations makes us safer, for in every sense of the word, it endangers our lives.

Further, Mr. Trump seems to be playing to the white supremacist arm of nationalists who eschew any who are not white, Christian, and of European descent.  Hence, his desire for a wall to keep Hispanics from Mexico, Central and South America out of our country.  Hence, his stepped-up deportations of even legal immigrants.  Hence, his aversion to immigrants from the Middle East.

The United States will not survive as an independent nation if we shut ourselves off from international affairs.  Technology has made the planet smaller and in today’s world, no nation can thrive without the help of others.  Trump would lead us down a path of certain destruction, given his way.  He is wrong, but sadly there are those who do not understand such things as trade, the environment, national debt, and global cooperation.  Nor do they care to take the time to educate themselves.  It is time to put the brakes on Trump’s out-of-control train, and the only way to do that is to vote the republicans out of Congress, for they have proven for the past two years that they will give him free rein.  Trump and this 115th Congress have done much damage, some that will take decades to repair, but the real nightmare comes with what could be done in another two years of an unchecked madman at that helm.

Faux Trump

August 2015: “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much. I make a lot of money from them. They buy all sorts of my stuff. All kinds of toys from Trump. They pay me millions and hundred of millions.”

October 2018: “For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russia, for that matter). Any suggestion that I have is just more FAKE NEWS (of which there is plenty)!”

In 2001 the Saudi government bought an entire floor in Trump World Tower in New York City, for $4.5 million (present value = $6.2 million).  In addition, common charges for that floor paid by the Saudis to Trump’s company will have been at least $5.7 million.

In 1988 Trump himself had paid a reported $29 million for a 281-foot yacht, the Nabila, which had been originally built for Adnan Khashoggi, a Saudi arms dealer, but was owned by the Sultan of Brunei at the time of Trump’s purchase. Khashoggi, now dead, was a cousin to Jamal Khashoggi.

In 1991, while going through what was one of a series of financial squeezes in his career as a real estate mogul and casino operator, Trump sold the big boat, since renamed “Trump Princess,” to Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. And he sold it at a loss: $20 million.

And last, but not least, in a quarterly report to investors in Trump Hotel …

“Saudi-based customers had booked 218 nights at Trump Chicago this year — a 169 percent increase from the same period in 2016.”

So yeah, he has significant financial interests with the Saudis. I find it all rather intriguing … we know he lies, so no surprise there, but … this is so easily proven as a blatant and significant lie … and he refers to ‘fake news’???Trump-mbsSo now, Trump does not want any sanctions against Saudi Arabia in retaliation for the brutal murder of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi earlier this month, because he is determined to follow through with U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia.  Now, I ask you, why do we want to sell arms to the Saudis?  15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi nationals, and Trump himself said, in February 2017, “Who blew up the World Trade Center? It wasn’t the Iraqis, it was Saudi – take a look at Saudi Arabia, open the documents.”  And now, they have murdered an American resident, a journalist for The Washington Post – brutally murdered and beheaded, if the Turkish officials are correct.

yemen school bus

Yemen school bus August 2018

So why do we want to sell weapons to this sort of government?  What does Trump think the Saudis plan to do with those weapons, use them as what-nots to decorate the shelves in the Shadda Palace?  No, they will use them to kill people.  Perhaps even us or our friends.  In August, the Saudis dropped an American-made bomb on a school bus in Yemen that killed 40 children.  Is the U.S. now supporting terrorism?  Sometimes human lives need to matter more than greed, more than money in the pockets of rich, greedy capitalists.  Sometimes we ought to think before we start lining people’s pockets.

The following John Oliver clip is well worth spending 18 minutes watching, for he sums up the situation far better than I have managed to do, and it gave me a better understanding of the relationship between Trump & Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, than I had before.  Although John Oliver is a comedian, he is also an astute political observer.  Please watch …

The Face of Evil 👿 — Alex Jones

When I wrote a post yesterday about two of the Sandy Hook families suing Alex Jones for the damage his 5-year-long conspiracy theory had done in the wake of the deaths of their children, I simply took for granted that everyone knew of Alex and his long, sordid history of conspiracy theories.  So, I was caught off guard when several people commented that they had either never heard of Jones, or had only a vague idea who he is.  Perhaps I should have made him Idiot of the Week, but I try to save that honour for people who are simply idiots, and not taint it with the face of evil.  Long story short, I decided to do a brief post summarizing some of his more heinous episodes.  There are video clips out there … you can find them easily enough, but I will not give him the courtesy of including any of his clips on this blog.

Alex Jones is most famous for his website/media outlet, InfoWars, his platform for his wide-ranging variety of conspiracy theories and fake news.  The Southern Poverty Law Center describes him as “the most prolific conspiracy theorist in contemporary America”, a title which he has said he is proud of.  Jones briefly attended college at Austin Community College, but dropped out soon after starting.  He got an early start in the conspiracy business … as early as 1996 he proposed his first one, that the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, was a plot by the U.S. government in order to put down a growing states’ rights movement.

Now let’s take a look at where he went from there …

  • Jones first came onto my radar in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 when terrorists flew airplanes into both towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, as well as the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing 2,753 people directly and thousands of rescue workers in subsequent years. On the day … the very day that those 2,753 people died … Jones was busily blaming the U.S. government of complicity, at the very least:

“Well I’ve been warning you about it for at least five years. All terrorism that we’ve looked at from the World Trade Center to Oklahoma City to Waco has been government actions. They need this as a pretext to bring you and your family martial law. They’re either using provocateur Arabs and allowing them to do it or this is full complicity with the federal government. The evidence is overwhelming.”

He later added that he had “smoking gun evidence” that Osama bin Laden was “a CIA asset” and “a CIA hireling doing his job” for the government.

Seven weeks later …

“I went on the air and said, ‘Those were controlled demolitions. You just watched the government blow up the World Trade Center.’ I lost 70 percent of my affiliates that day. Station managers asked me, ‘Do you want to be on this crusade going nowhere, or do you want to be a star?’ I’m proud I never compromised.”

In 2005, Jones produced a film, Martial Law 9-11: The Rise of the Police State.  An excerpt:

“In summation, it’s important to note that we only covered a tiny portion of the facts and evidence that clearly shows that 9/11 was an inside job. Number one, the official story of 9/11 has been completely disproven. At every point we’ve caught them lying, manufacturing evidence or covering up evidence. From high-level government inside sources and publicly available facts, we now have a very clear picture of how 9/11 was carried out.

Number one, we know that the men who were on board the aircraft who were supposedly the hijackers had their houses, cars, credit cards paid for by the U.S. government. They were in truth agents taking part in drills and nothing more. Supposed computer malfunctions at American and United [Airlines] ensured that all four planes only had 20 percent occupancy on board on a day when flights on the East Coast were an average of 80 percent full. Once the decoys, known as hijackers, were on board the planes, a gas was released knocking out the occupants of the aircraft. Then a small criminal group in control of remote control systems patented for over 20 years took control of the aircraft and flew them into the World Trade Centers and Pentagon. The CIA controlled drills that morning, confused NORAD for over an hour until it was almost too late for them to shoot down the hijacked planes. I said almost too late. When they did find out, Dick Cheney wouldn’t let the planes fly over 350 miles an hour so three of the aircraft were able to hit their targets. The fourth wasn’t able to because our sources in the Pentagon have told us generals didn’t follow their orders and had Flight 93 shot down. If it would have hit its target, the capital, the government would have been completely decapitated and the president could have declared total martial law.

  • When James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others at a Century movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, on July 20, 2012, Alex Jones claimed that Holmes was an agent for the government. Jones stated: “He was totally set up, on government payroll, said he was drugged, told people in the jail — that was even in the local paper. Then they came out and said it was never said. He’s a patsy. He was set up. He was drugged outside.”
  • Remember 20 April 1999 when students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murdered 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado? Yep, Jones was on that one like fleas on a dog, saying he had evidence that it was “100% false flag”.  Add to the list that he used the term ‘false flag’ on, the mass shootings in Tucson, San Bernardino, and Orlando.  Same story, only the names and places are changed.
  • Of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing: “This operation is a false flag. It is a staged event. These guys are definitely patsies that were set up and they’re manipulating our tribalism that, “Hey, the guys from the other tribe bombed us but we got them.” When the truth is they were young men recruited by globalist intelligence agencies and set up horribly. And they could do it to any of us. We’re all in grave danger.”

The list goes on and on.  Most recently, of course, he targeted the Parkland, Florida mass school shooting and its survivors.  Of Parkland student David Hogg, Jones said he and his activist classmates were “crisis actors,” or paid actors who pretend to be victims of a tragedy to advocate for gun control.

But beyond the conspiracy theories, there are other acts of evil attributable to Jones:

  • Jones said that being gay is a “destructive lifestyle, but I don’t hate these people. But the reason there’s so many gay people now is because it’s a chemical warfare operation. I have the government documents where they said they’re going to encourage homosexuality with chemicals so that people don’t have children.”
  • Jones claimed that the push for transgender protections is actually “the collapse of civilization, it’s the destruction of the family, it has nothing to do with somebody’s sexual preference. It is about messing with everyone and making everyone adopt this particular lifestyle.”
  • Jones has claimed that President Obama is obsessed with transgender rights so he entered into a “completely fake” “arranged marriage” with Michelle Obama. He purported to explain of the Obamas’ marriage: “I think it’s all an arranged marriage, it’s all completely fake and it’s this big sick joke because he’s obsessed with transgender, just like some weird cult or something. I think Michelle Obama is a man. I really do. I really do. I believe it.”
  • On vaccines: “They’re testing to see how many children they can give neurological disorders and see if the nurses and doctors and public don’t notice. They’re testing soft kill on the public to see if they can manage massive numbers of dead and dying and maimed children.”
  • Jones has claimed that the government possesses a weather machine that can create floods and tornadoes. He said in 2013 that “of course there’s weather weapon stuff going on — we had floods in Texas like 15 years ago, killed 30-something people in one night. Turned out it was the Air Force.” He added that while there are some “natural tornadoes,” the government “can create and steer groups of tornadoes.”
  • Ever wonder where that rumour that passes around every so often about the government running prison camps … FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) camps? Yep, ol’ Alex started that one too: “The military industrial complex is transforming our once free nation into a giant prison camp. A cashless society control grid, constructed in the name of fighting terrorism, was actually built to enslave the American people. Body scanners, sound cannons, citizen spies, staged terror and cameras on every street corner — it’s only the beginning of the New World Order’s hellish plan.”
  • When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in Texas in February 2016, Jones suggested that Obama murdered Scalia so he could push gun control legislation.

All of this is only a partial list of the sheer hate, bigotry, and ignorance this man spews on a daily basis, but I think you have a pretty clear picture now of the evil that is Alex Jones.  And the really scary part?  People believe his garbage and act on it.  And finally, why does he do it?  Money, plain and simple.  The InfoWars website receives approximately 10 million monthly visits, making it more visited than some mainstream news websites such as The Economist and Newsweek.  10 million viewers = 10 million potential customers for the junk he peddles.  Jones sells videos, books, T-shirts, dietary supplements, and even subscriptions videos. In 2013 alone, Alex Jones was estimated to be making $10 million/year from all of his merchandising sales.And if you aren’t already disgusted enough, in February, two of Jones’ employees accused him of anti-Semitism and sexual harassment.  And now, though you do not know all there is to know about Alex Jones, you know enough to understand that his is indeed … The Face of Evil.

11 September 2016 … Memories (a repost)

Those who have followed this blog for more than a year know that each year on this date I write a post pertaining to 9/11.  This year, for some reason, though I tried, I have been unable to write anything worthy of being read.  I looked back at my past posts and decided that the one I wrote last year was, perhaps, the best of I have done and … it is every bit as relevant today as it was one year ago.  So, this is a repeat … some of you have already read it, but many have only joined our community in the last year.  Thank you for reading, as this is near and dear to my heart.

Humanity

911-cover-4Fifteen years ago.  It seems so much longer … another lifetime.  And yet … and yet, it seems like such a short time ago. I remember the morning well.  A key staff member was on vacation and I had to cover, so I arrived at work well before daylight, but I stepped outside sometime between 8:30 and 9:00 for a smoke break.  The sky was the bluest I could recall ever seeing it and I thought it must be the most perfect day.  Within a half-hour, I would be left in tears, cursing the day, hoping to awaken from this nightmare.

I went back inside from my smoke-break, and an employee, Susie, came up to me and asked if I had heard about the plane that crashed into the World Trade Center.  If the building I worked in had not since been demolished, I could show you the exact tile I was standing on at that moment, just as I could tell you that when we received news of the assassination of JFK, I was at home plate with bat in hand, waiting for the pitch.  Just as my grandfather often told exactly where he was and what he was doing when the news of the attack on Pearl Harbour came over ‘the wireless’. You think it is a literary trick when an author says “time stood still”?  Well, I can tell you … for me, time did stand still, as I must have also.  I seemed to have lost all feeling, all senses shut down … I could not hear nor see.  After that, it all blurs into a series of news updates … a 2nd plane, then the Pentagon, then a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the name Usama bin Laden.  Prayers in the cafeteria, a television rolled into another room where we all gathered.  Financial statements, payroll, printing presses and the like forgotten for the moment.  Tearful phone calls home to family members.  Then day after day, glued to the television every waking moment.  In my household, we had a then-6-year-old and finally had to turn to Nickelodeon, but the images remained in our eyelids, in our hearts, in our souls. And the tears never stopped.

Today we mark the 15th memorial of that awful day.  We do so in many ways, but the saddest thing for me is that we did not learn the lessons we needed to learn from that tragedy.  Today, our nation is more divided than ever.  In the days and weeks that followed what would become known simply as 9/11, it seemed we were on the right path.  People from all over the nation traveled to Ground Zero to help with search and rescue, and eventually cleanup operations.  Shopkeepers gave out free food and water.  People helped neighbors, friends and strangers.  We all empathized with each other, treated each other a little kinder, gave a bit more freely of our hugs and kind words.

Compare and contrast to today, when we are a nation divided by hatred, divided by a lack of understanding for those who do not look, act or think like us.  And there are many who blame today’s vitriolic environment on 9/11, those who decided to hate all who share a religion with the plotters and perpetrators of the horrific acts of 9/11.  But it doesn’t stop there … our nation has renewed its call for racial discrimination, religious intolerance, and hatred of those who are perceived as ‘different’ in one way or another.  We have lost our way.


Commercialism

That which “we will never forget” has already been forgotten by some, it would seem.  A mattress company releases the following ad:

“Right now, you can get any sized mattress for a twin price!” says a grinning woman flanked by two employees in the 20-second spot. She flings her arms out and the men tumble backwards, knocking over two tall piles of mattresses. The woman screams “Oh my God!” in mock panic, then immediately recovers her composure and adds, with a half-smile: “We’ll never forget.”  It quickly attracted local, then national outrage. The ad was taken down, and Mike Bonanno, the owner of Miracle Mattress, issued the following statement:  “I say this unequivocally, with sincere regret: the video is tasteless and an affront to the men and women who lost their lives on 9/11.”  How did he not realize how “tasteless” it was before it aired?

One Wal-Mart, in conjunction with Coca-Cola, erected a display to “commemorate” the 9/11 anniversary.  It was taken down after much criticism.  And other companies have also tried to use 9/11 for sales and profit.  It is not a commercial holiday. We do not celebrate with hot dogs and beer. It is a day of national mourning.  It is a day of solemnity.  Commercialism has no place on this day, no right to use it as a gimmick.  Can you imagine Pearl Harbor, or the assassination of President John F. Kennedy being commercialized?  There was one commercial ad that truly was a tribute to the day.  It aired only once, in 2002, but is available on YouTube and I still watch it from time to time … I still find it to be a beautiful tribute and it still brings tears.  Before airing the commercial, Anheuser-Busch sought and received approval from Congress, as well as then-mayor Rudy Giuliani. It features the iconic Clydesdales passing the Statue of Liberty, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, and finally pausing and bowing in a park overlooking the New York City skyline, without the twin World Trade Center Towers. There is no company logo until the end, and since it aired only once, given the cost of producing the ad, the company made no profit from it, nor did they intend to. It truly feels like a tribute rather than a cheap shot. It was tasteful … respectful.


Positive, Encouraging, Hopeful Messages

In a rare display of partisanship, 200 members of Congress stood on the steps beneath the recently restored Capitol dome and prayed, observed a moment’s silence and, accompanied by a marine band, sang God Bless America to mark the imminent anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The remembrance ceremony, with Democrats and Republicans standing side by side, was heartening, though it would have been much more so had all 535 members of Congress participated.


I end where I began, by saying that we have lost our way, we have failed to learn from this, and to some extent we have failed to keep our promise to “never forget”.  The nation is more bitterly divided, more everything-phobic today than it was prior to 11 September 2001.  Rather than embracing our differences, we are using them as an excuse for hatred.  Rather than loving our fellow man, we are killing him.  Unless we learn to unite and work together for the sake of not only our nation, but of humanity, we are doomed to repeat the past. I would ask the readers of this blog to do this one thing:  be kind today, do not put anyone down, offer a smile to any you see, and hug your family just a little tighter today … just for today. Below are just a few pictures I would like to share, to remind us all of that day.

 

911-dust-lady

Marcy Borders, the ‘dust lady’, sadly died 25 August 2015 of cancer related to 9/11

911-cover-69-11

A Story With A Happy Ending

I’m in the mood for a happier story today … hope you are too!

It was a chance meeting of two politicians at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week, and it went largely unnoticed, lost in the noise and bluster that defined the convention.  However, it may just have been the most, if not the only, shining moment of the entire convention.

The two men, Texas State Senator Brian Birdwell and candidate for a U.S. Senate seat from Louisiana, Rob Maness, would appear to have nothing in common beyond the fact that they are both republicans and both just happened to be attending the convention.  Mr. Maness was meeting with former Texas governor Rick Perry, discussing Mr. Maness’ current campaign, when Mr. Perry suggested that he meet with Mr. Birdwell.  An aide was dispatched to bring Mr. Birdwell to the meeting.

maness

Rob Maness

birdwell

Brian Birdwell

 

 

 

 

 

Upon introducing the two men, Rick Perry, who was aware that Maness had been in the Pentagon on 9/11, said “Rob, I want you to meet somebody. He was in the Pentagon on 9/11, too.”  Naturally, a common bond had been formed with those few words, and the men began to share their stories.

In 2001, Birdwell worked for the Army and, on the morning of Sept. 11, was in an office in the Pentagon with two colleagues watching the live footage of the Twin Towers burning. At 9:35 he stepped out to go to the bathroom, telling his co-workers he’d be right back. It was the last time he ever spoke to them.

Less than 10 minutes later, as Birdwell left the bathroom, American Airlines Flight 77 barreled into the side of the building, the nose of the aircraft less than 20 yards from where Birdwell stood. He was engulfed in flames, parts of his polyester Army pants melted to his skin, his arms were skinned, and he collapsed with blood and black soot caked to his charred body. He lay there in the burning hall thinking of his wife and his teenage son and their goodbyes that morning. He tried to accept that he was dying.

Yet, minutes later, he was being carried out of the building and a medic on site quickly hooked him up to an IV. An Air Force officer who was helping the wounded held his leaking IV line and tried to keep him awake.  Birdwell was eventually taken to the hospital where he would spend 26 days in intensive care. More than 60 percent of his body was severely burned, and he would have 39 operations during his excruciating recovery, which took about four years.

pentago-911As Birdwell told his story, Maness recalled that day, remembered holding a leaky IV line, assuring the wounded man that he would be okay, despite the fact that appearances said otherwise. And suddenly he knew that here stood the man he had thought about every day for 15 years.  Here stood the man whose fate he had wondered about for so very long.  “When I realized that I was looking at the same gentleman, I started to cry and told him I was so grateful that he was still alive. We hugged each other and neither of us could believe that we were talking again. What are the odds?”

Both Maness and Birdwell say they will stay in touch now that they have re-connected.  This bond formed in the middle of chaos has strength that most of us will never completely understand, but that we can all appreciate.  Both men say not a day has passed that they did not think of the other.  Both have given back to the world as a result of their experiences that day.  Birdwell started a nonprofit, Face the Fire Ministries, that supports burn victims and wounded service men and women. Maness helped found an advocacy organization to prevent veteran suicides.  Out of the rubble of that day have come some amazing stories like this one, and out of the darkness of the convention last week came this one shining moment.

Thirteen Years Later

I am taking a 4-day hiatus from my blog, going camping with a special friend, and will be away from computer and from news of the outside world from Saturday, July 2nd through Tuesday, July 5th.  I have scheduled a few of my “oldies but goodies” and will see you all when i return to the real world (maybe?) on Wednesday, July 6th.  Please don’t go away … I shall return, rested and happy and ready to start ranting once again!  This one was originally posted on September 11, 2014.

This is what I posted yesterday on Facebook. I don’t often post on Facebook, as I work hard at not offending friends or family and I realize that my posts may frequently be offensive to some, but once a year, on the anniversary of 9/11, I reserve the right to post my thoughts and feelings about the event itself and how it has impacted us today:

Thirteen years ago, an event changed the lives of every person in the U.S. and many more than we will ever know outside the U.S. It has been compared to Pearl Harbor, and rightfully so, in the sense that it was an event that would, in one way or in many ways, have far-reaching and ever-lasting consequences. We all lost someone or something on that horrific morning of September 11th, 2001. Whether we knew and cared for someone who lost their lives that day or not, we still suffered a loss. Whether we were in New York City, Washington D.C. or Seattle or Dallas, we suffered a loss of some of our innocence and security. A loss in the belief that as Americans, everybody loved us and we were invulnerable to the traumas that beset other nations. A loss of the belief that we were safe in our everyday lives. All gone in just 102 minutes on an otherwise beautiful late summer day.

I wish I could say that the lessons we learned on that day have led us to be better people, more caring, kind and compassionate people. I wish I could say that we began, both as individuals and as a nation, to think in a more global sense about our roles and responsibilities in the world. I wish I could say that it made us just a little bit better, and for a short time, I believe it did. For a short time, we stopped to ask people if they were okay, we opened not only our wallets, but also our hearts to those who had suffered the most. But it didn’t last long and now, thirteen years later, there is more hatred both on an individual level and a global level than there was before that fateful day. There is less tolerance among people in this country and among nations as well. Racial tensions have escalated in the U.S., religious intolerance is at an all-time high in the U.S., and we seem to have closed both our hearts and minds to anyone who is different or believes differently than we do.

Almost 3,000 people lost their lives on September 11, 2001. More than 1,000 first responders have died as a result of injuries or diseases from their efforts at the site, and the numbers continue to mount every month. Although an exact number is difficult to determine, thousands of U.S. servicemen and women have lost their lives in the resultant wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These figures do not even take into account civilians of other nations who lost their lives as a result, either direct or indirect, of 9/11. Yet at this time, global terrorism is at an all-time high, and when we most need to be unified, to stand together and try to resolve our problems together, we are fighting amongst ourselves over the immigration of children from South America, fighting over gun regulation, fighting over gay marriage, birth control, and affordable healthcare. Politics and placing blame seems to be more important than human rights and trying to learn to live in global peace and harmony. Perhaps we lost more than we ever imagined on 9/11 …. perhaps we also lost our humanity.

9/11 – Fourteen Years Later

My 9/11 post is late this year. I’m not sure why, but I simply did not have the motivation to write earlier. I was heartened to see a record number of posts on social media sites. Even though I was not able to look at them all, I was pleased to see that so many people took at least a minute out of their day to remember. It seemed that there were more posts this year than in years past, and I hope this is a trend that will continue into the future. Just like Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust, we simply cannot afford to forget the lessons of the past.

Now those of you who know me at all can probably sense that there is a “but …“ coming. So here it is. Almost every post I saw had the words “we will never forget” or “we will always remember”. And yet, while it is likely true that nobody who was alive and of an “age of cognizance” has forgotten the event, the horror they felt, it appears to me that many have forgotten the lessons of that day. In the past year, I have been appalled by the increasing hatred and vitriol put forth by so many otherwise rational and seemingly sane people. Today we are seeing a level of racial hatred that I cannot remember since the 1960’s. There is unprecedented bigotry toward anybody who is “different”, whether in the area of gender orientation, race, religion, culture, economic status or politics. We seem to have forgotten the basic premise stated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence that “All Men Are Created Equal”. We seem to have forgotten how to tolerate beliefs and values that may not fully agree with our own. We seem to have forgotten how to respect one another, how to care about our fellow mankind.

I think one of the things that bothers me most is the fact that some are actually using 9/11 as an excuse for their hatred toward fellow human beings. I have heard too many say that we should reject immigrants from Muslim countries because 9/11 was perpetrated by radical Islamists. Nobody in this nation has EVER known, or is ever likely to know, the horrors that millions have lived through in places like Syria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan in the past decade. These are innocent people who want only the same things we all want, to be able to take care of our families and live in relative safety. Millions of innocent people are fleeing for their lives with only the clothes on their backs, and in our almighty arrogance we reject them? We fear the organization daesh, commonly referred to as ISIS, yet the vast majority of their violence is perpetrated against innocent people in countries in the Middle East, not the West. Does anybody remember the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty? “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

I could go on and on in this vein, but I really have neither the heart nor the stomach for it tonight. I conclude only by urging my fellow mankind to “Never Forget and Always Remember” not only the horrors of the events of September 11, 2001, but the lessons that we should have learned about compassion, humanity, tolerance and yes, love. Here’s hoping for a better world, a kinder world … someday.

Nine years later …

It has only been in these past few months that I have been able, compelled actually, to read books and other material about that day, September 11, 2001.  For nearly nine years, it was still too close, too personal, and I was barely able to even say that date without tearing up.  Then suddenly, a few weeks or months ago, I felt a compulsion to devour the same material that I had previously shunned.  Why?  I think I am hoping to understand two things:  Why and How.  The answer to the first is elusive, subjective, and has been the topic of so much speculation that I suspect we’ll never be able to fully understand.  The people who might actually be able to explain it to us are either dead or are in hiding and will be dead as soon as they emerge, not to mention that they are not likely to be honest anyway. So the odds are against us ever receiving a first-hand explanation.  And in fact, at the same time I am frustrated in my attempt to understand, I realize that I will never understand, even if it were explained to me, because in my code of ethics or value system, there can be no reason for the mass destruction of thousands of innocent people.  I think that if anybody can truly understand this, then they are cut of the same cloth as the terrorists/murderers who perpetrated this heinous crime.  The answer to the second question, the “how”, is more achievable, at least to some extent, although I don’t believe we have all the facts nor ever will.  We have a number of facts and many have interpolated the missing details, so we have a fairly accurate model of the timeframe, the players and financiers, the “who, what, when and where” if you will.  Thus far I have read two books and numerous internet articles and the one thing I can say about them all is that I am learning things I didn’t know, but that I can only read for a half hour or so before I need a break.  Another time, another subject, I could happily read for hours at a time, if left uninterrupted by outside distractions, but not this topic.  I stop when I feel myself getting incredibly sad or angry.  I remember the days after 9/11, I couldn’t tear myself away from the coverage, even though there was little that was new, it was mostly repetitious, but yet I had to watch.  When our little one, who was seven at the time, began to show signs of “disaster overload”, I did the responsible thing and turned the television to Nickelodeon or Disney, channels that continued their regular programming for the most part, and then I went upstairs and stared at the television in the bedroom.  We had two televisions at work, and I went to watch them as often as possible, then stayed glued to the television at home until two or three in the morning, slept a couple of hours, then turned it back on as soon as my eyes opened.  It was overload and it was not healthy, but I, like so many others, was powerless to break the pattern.  And then one day, I couldn’t absorb any more.  I was like a sponge that had been sitting in a lake full of water for weeks and I knew, if not on a fully conscious level, then at least my subconscious had some good sense, that I was destroying myself and needed to get out of the lake.  Even now, I feel guilty for saying things like, “You can’t change what happened”, and “You have to go on with your life”, but it is true.  However, we can never forget.  We must never forget!  Much like the Holocaust, to forget is to condemn ourselves to repeating it, and that is unthinkable.  So we seek to answer those two questions, Why and How, in hopes to understand at least enough to prevent another 9/11 from ever happening.