Deja Vu

Late March, late in the evening, and there are snowflakes in the air. Colorado is nice that way, keeping us on our toes with frequent changes. It’s a theme I have taken up before. In fact it was about this time last year. What has changed since then? I think we have been here before.

There are flurries, too, of anxiety in the air. Have we been here before? Those who like our new president are feeling that he is being unfairly criticized, denigrated, hounded, and attacked. Those who don’t like him are feeling angry at every move he makes, and talking about impeachment, profligacy, arrogance — even treason. If I go back eight years and use exactly the same words, with only a different name standing as “our new president,” it is remarkable how the feelings were every bit as vehement, but held by the opposite parties. More than remarkable. The same. We’ve been here before. We are always here.

peace craneAt my church many people have been drawn in to a project of folding origami “peace cranes.” Paper cranes are a symbol of peace and hope. Over a period of two months, a total of 33,215 of the paper birds have been folded and strung together in a massive display. The number represents the number of gun deaths last year in the United States. Doing the origami has been almost a meditative act for some, and a lively social interaction for others. How many people need to turn their thoughts to peace before it makes a difference? Again, I think we have had this thought before. It was about this time last year. Maybe you have read it before. I am thinking of it again, realizing that the world I live in is the world of my choosing. It was the story of a little bird called a coalmouse on a snowy night. Not much of a story, really Nothing More Than Nothing…

 

 

January

I can’t write this month. Here is a news item from Bulgaria:

US Embassy in Bulgaria: No Visa Interviews for Citizens of 7 Countries in Trump’s Executive Order

Business | January 30, 2017
Bulgaria: US Embassy in Bulgaria: No Visa Interviews for Citizens of 7 Countries in Trump's Executive Order BGNES

The American Embassy in Sofia has published a special announcement calling on the citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen or persons who have dual citizenship of these countries not to schedule visa interviews and not to pay any taxes [fees] related to such interviews.

The reason is the executive order of US President Donald Trump related to the issue of visas for citizens of these seven countries.

— from novinite.bg

That’s all.

OK, well, I’ll say this. There are so many articles being written about Trump’s executive order on immigration, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” both attacking it and defending it, that the din is deafening. Moreover, so many adherents of each opposing view (as if there were only two sides) see only their (our) own preferred view, excluding any other view except to treat it with cynicism and mockery. That’s a damn shame. Can we do better in listening to “the other?” Fight like hell for what you believe in. Volunteer. Advocate. Work for the good as you perceive it. But be sure the good as you perceive it is not screaming so loudly that you cannot hear anything else.

There’s no need to point you to the published articles I’m referring to, for and against; you’ve probably read and liked as many of your favorite kind, and read and hated as many of the other kind, as I have. Well, maybe just one. This one.

Discuss.

Christmas in Aleppo

Merry Christmas!

I wrote a year ago about the Christmas spirit, and how it lifts us all up. Ahh, that felt good. I also wrote about homeless people, and other downers like war and refugees. It’s almost become a recurring theme. 1 The connection is that doing good helps make us feel good, and for many people Christmas brings that to mind. Salvation Army kettles and all that. Besides, it is set in our national character that our country is a beacon of hope to the world; our greatness depends upon our goodness. I mentioned the fact that Colorado takes in about 2,000 refugees a year, and that the number was expected to increase. Then last month, on the subject of how many refugees are accepted into the US and how that number is determined, I mentioned in a footnote to the article that the number is set annually by the President.

The number is set annually by the President.

Some people, with reference to President-elect Trump, are cheering an anticipated curtailment of the number of humanitarian rescues we offer to the war-torn world. Dim that damn beacon! Hell, turn it off! Others, predictably, are not. Some of the members of the latter group are (at least figuratively) running for their lives. Bana Alabed home in East Aleppo

We’re hearing a lot about tweets in the news, mainly because of @realDonaldTrump, who has made tweeting into a medium of policy announcement and public amusement. Then there’s Bana Alabed, a little girl from Aleppo, Syria, whose mother, Fatemah, got her a Twitter account (@AlabedBana) to show the world what the war was like through her eyes. The video below is an interview after she was finally evacuated from her neighborhood…

… if you’ll take a moment to scroll through the past few months of her life in East Aleppo and see what it was like, you can do that on Twitter, here. Go down to before December 19, when she escaped. She is part of a generation of children raised in a city being reduced to rubble, in the continuing violence following from the “Arab Spring” that began almost-her-whole-lifetime ago.

In this season of celebrating Peace on Earth, what is one to do?

wrote about this last year, but I’ll repeat myself.

“Sing along with me now…

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath’ring winter fuel.

(Remember, fyoo-OOO-ell. Ha! Now to the ending.)

Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing.

That thing about blessings coming back to those who give of themselves: I’m not sure we made a big point of that when we sang about good old King Pretzelsauce in grade school. It’s a thought, though. It should work for people who are not Christian men as well. For my Christian friends, it is good to remember that everything Jesus did in his ministry pointed toward peace. Peace is a concept held as an ideal. Christmas reminds us to address our cognitive dissonance, the difference between Peace on Earth and mercy mild and the realities of cold streets with homeless sleeping under cardboard; war refugees living in tents out in the snow; hardened hearts living in fear of terrorists. It is not only hope, but also deeds that sustain good — and peace — in the world.”