Greetings and salutations from the sand, sun and surf of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and the great island of Nantucket! So good to be with you on this beautifully cold Monday morning, the twenty-eighth day of March, 2011, and I say ‘beautifully cold’ because before too long, we, along with the rest of the world, will be longing for the cool days and nights of winter, as the spring and summer begin in earnest–bringing with it temperatures reaching their highest recorded levels in history, once again, since modern weather record keeping began in the late nineteenth century. The past ten years have been the hottest recorded on that historical fact sheet of numbers that don’t LIE, and as nothing has been done to curb the emissions of carbon dioxide into the air, via the electricity generated by coal fired plants, the cars and planes we fly fueled by oil, along with the countless ways we manufacture plastic products that utilize fossil fuel for their existence, we can expect to have yet another hot summer, so hot that we will long for the snows and even the ‘wicked’ cold winds that chill us to the very bone. Libyan rebels have retaken, or are in the process of retaking Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte, a hundred or miles or so east from the capital city of Tripoli, where the coalition forces, most believe still headed by the United States of America, along with our partner NATO (north Atlantic treaty organization), have continued to bomb pro-Gaddafi forces hoping to end this before it becomes yet another snafu in yet another Arab state, pushing the already war weary residents of this country into thinking, “what are we doing?” Recent reports by Rolling Stone magazine, embedded within Afghanistan, have revealed some brutal stories from the front lines in that ten year old war, where one rogue platoon has decided to take matters into their own hands, allegedly killing innocent civilians and displaying their bodies for all the world to see. A horrible example of combat fatigue or perhaps something even worse, as the morale in some of these units has hit an all time low. The ‘mission’ does not seem to have the definition of the word attached to it any longer, for perhaps it never did have a ‘mission’ to begin with, save the ‘Wanted–Osama Bin Laden…dead or alive!’ war drum that was pounded into our collective heads after 9/11. With that war cry being dead and gone, it is hard to see why we are still there, as our soldiers come ‘home’ to their country of origin beaten and bruised, mostly from the neck up, badly in need of psychological TLC. Their fight continues to rage in their own head, as I have written about extensively in my upcoming novel, “Taking Fog to Nantucket”, coming out in May or June of this year. War is not good for children, or any living thing. It is the antithesis of why we are really all here on this little blue rock I call earth–and that reason is to learn what we already learned to begin with, but forgot–“Love one another, for by loving another, you are indeed loving yourself.” (and that, by the way, is the BEST way to love god, if you believe in that sort of thing, and it is fine if you don’t, for he believes in you). The whole of the Middle East is at the point of breaking, as we see extensive uprisings in Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain. The fear that the administration has, along with anyone who is not a five year old intent on acting like one, is that al Qaida will infiltrate one of these countries, possibly Yemen, and ‘launch’ it’s extremists hate filled death threats to the West and it’s allies from there. However, we must not believe that we can stop all of this simply by bombing or by boots on the ground. If this latest atrocity in Afghanistan tells us anything, it is this–our soldiers are being pushed to the point where the body, mind and soul cannot take anymore, and when those soldiers come home, they should be given every care under the sun to become WHOLE again, for many are not whole now, as they live their lives homeless in the streets of Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, New York, or Houston. Their lives have become skewed, as many live in a constant state of fear and feel hyper-sensitive to everything around them, on ‘guard’ 24/7/365, with a fear so profound, they are blinded to the LOVE and beauty all around them. That is what we have stolen from them, and it is high time the United States military take steps to help these soldiers who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, an invisible disease that takes one to the deepest depths of hell, not even a battle field could compete with. In fact, that is what many of these soldiers wish for, the fight, for that is the only place they feel normal, feel ‘themselves’. God willing, someone in the upper echelons of the military brass will be reading this commentary today.
On a lighter note, the “National Cherry Blossom Festival” kicked off on Saturday in Washington D.C., with over 4000 Japanese cherry trees lining the National Mall expected to peak on Tuesday, although with the cool weather recently, their ‘peak’ may come a little later on. The Japanese government donated these same type of Japanese cherry trees, at the behest of Washington socialite Eliza Skidmore, gee, I hope I got the spelling right on that one, in the late 1800’s, but the project only took off with the support of First Lady Helen Taft. The city of Tokyo donated 2000 trees, but after their arrival, were found to have been infected with insects, and thus, had to be burned. Japan provided replacement trees, and the first two were planted on March 27th, 1912. Exactly 99 years ago, give or take a day or so. The first Cherry Blossom Festival was held in 1935 and, in 1994, was extended from one week to two. This year’s festival began this past Saturday and is expected to go until April 12th. In a gesture of support for the nation that made it all possible, organizers are encouraging visitors to donate to a Red Cross relief fund for the people of Japan (you can as well, by texting REDCROSS to 90999, which will automatically donate $10 for you) who were devastated by the March 11, 2011 9.0 earthquake and subsequent killer tsunami that shattered so many lives to the north of Japan’s largest city Tokyo. Those are the people that really need help, not only money, but your prayers as well. GOD’s SPEED to them all! And finally today, I would like to dedicate this “blog” entry to two women who changed the face of this world for the better, as we lost them both in this past week. The first was Elizabeth Taylor, the great actress, humanitarian and real soul, who starred in over 50 motion picture films, countless television appearances, not to mention many appearances on the Broadway stage. She won 2 Oscars, handed out by the prestigious Academy Awards committee in Los Angeles, for her work in “Butterfield 8” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” But, perhaps her greatest achievement was, when it was not in vogue or part of the most popular ‘thing’ in the public eye, her dedication and work regarding the devastating A.I.D.S. virus and subsequent epidemic that began sweeping the United States and the world in the early to mid 1980’s. Her work with other great artists like Michael Jackson, brought that dark disease into the LIGHT of day, therein, most likely speeding up awareness and the search for a cure, as it did most certainly improve the then current treatments of that horrible ailment, making AIDS a household name, and perhaps taking away the fear of it, exposing myths and replacing them with facts–such as you cannot ‘get’ AIDS from a person by touching them on the shoulder. We owe you a debt of gratitude from your first film, created in 1944, “National Velvet”, where you played a violet eyed young girl who displayed a giant LOVE for her horse and LIFE in general, to your final days where you continued to give whatever your voice could lend to the causes of making this world a little better place to live in. GOD’S SPEED Elizabeth! The second woman I would like to dedicate this Monday morning to is Geraldine Ferraro, who passed away on Saturday in Boston. She was a true pioneer for women in this country, in gaining a foothold in the male dominated political landscape that exists in America even to this day. Her 1984 Vice Presidential bid, on the same ticket as Presidential hopeful Walter Mondale in that same year of 1984, propelled her into the spotlight, a white hot spotlight I might add, putting forth an agenda that exposed the double standard that still exists in our society when it comes to womens’ rights. The new law suit against Walmart, going all the way to the Supreme Court, where women are demanding equal pay for equal work, is an example of her voice in there somewhere, while it also exemplifies just how far this country still needs to go when it comes to equal treatment of women not only in the workplace, but the way in which we treat women in general. She will be missed. GOD’s speed to you as well Geraldine, you were a fighter and a great example of what a “politician” should be all about. May GOD’S continued grace be upon the good people of Japan, especially those in the northeastern fishing villages, all 600 kilometer’s worth, whose homes are GONE as they sit in the snowy fields of waste and debris, searching for firewood to keep warm, melting snow for drinking water, and hoping that Help will be at their doorstep soon. Have a wonderful week folks and may GOD be with you and yours as well. This world does not have to be the way it is, there is still “time” to heal it. PRESERVE THE WILDERNESS! Peace~M