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Archive for the ‘Symbolism’ Category

Recognizing fully that there are approximately seven billion people on earth who are more intelligent than I, far be it for me to suggest or dictate possible foreign policy decisions to those in my own nation who are in a temporary, at best, position to do so. It seems somewhat as ridiculous as attempting to tell General Motors how to make an ignition switch for their vehicles or how to tell American tourists which mountains to climb in the Middle East. In other words, speak well of what you know well and speak not of which you know nothing.

That having been said, I would propose that Congress begin impeachment proceedings against President Obama if he sends one soldier, sailor, marine, airman or woman, coast guardsman or woman, or even a member of the Boy/Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls, or member of the 4-H into harm’s way in the Middle East before he clearly, articulately, and demonstrably proves well beyond the shadow of anyone’s doubt that we have national interests at stake in that region other than the protection of our oil interests or the interests of the so-called one percent. Please, do not tell me in the vaguest of terms that terrorists will use bases in the Middle East to plan and carry out attacks on our nation. I will not believe you. If you believe that to be the case, strengthen the protection of our borders at home; increase the use of HUMINT and other intelligence-gathering resources abroad, and devote greater resources to the same type of attacks that the terrorists carry out, i.e., sneak attacks on their targets before they can carry out their attacks on our targets.

It’s an entirely new era of warfare into which we have entered and America is lagging well behind the curve in terms of how it should be fought. Remember the days of the Napoleonic wars when great armies would face each other on the battlefield and exchange fire? Then, when the soldiers of King George III attempted to engage the “American Rabble” [note the capital ‘R’ please}, they were rudely shocked by the guerilla tactics of the Patriots. Those tactics plus planned operations such as D-Day, Operations Overlord, King Too, Charger, Casanova became the way to fight. What about civilians? Well, insofar as possible, America and its allies attempted to respect and reduce civilian casualties with noted exceptions. Today things are different. The people who are America’s enemies today prefer to use civilians because they are aware of America’s horror at seeing non-combatants used, abused, and slaughtered. Our enemies don’t care who they kill as long as they, the dead, don’t believe the way they, the terrorists, happen to believe on that particular day. Politely, we used to call it tribal warfare; it is not. ISIS or whatever the hell they are calling themselves are nothing more than a gang; no better than the Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Michigan Militia, or the Wah Ching. They proclaim to be religious jihadists, but that, I believe, is merely an excuse to kill others unlike themselves.

In 1961, President Kennedy stated that we were sending “advisors” to someplace called Vietnam. It wasn’t a popular decision, but we trusted Jack the war hero to do what was right. The advisors were followed by more advisors and then marines and soldiers who weren’t “advisors,” but who were right in the thick of things. The guys who fought and died in that war were patriots; make no mistake about that. The reason they were asked to fight, I regret to say, were never clearly spelled out. As a consequence, many people back in the states didn’t understand and blamed those who fought and died as much as they blamed future administrations. I didn’t like him and didn’t vote for him, but thanks be to God for Richard Nixon’s intelligence in ending that war that claimed over 58,000 American lives.

Now, this current President – for whom I voted twice – who has nothing to lose because he can’t run again is talking about sending 275-300 “advisors” and Special Forces to “train” Iraqi forces. When do the “advisors” and “trainers” become companies, regiments, battalions, and armies who shed blood? When might we reach the point of saying, “We need more young men and women so by executive order, we’re reinstating selective service?” That is, perhaps extreme, but maybe extreme is what is required to wake up the American people to the fact that our people are dying and the only thing we’re told is “…because it’s in our national interest.” Dammit, give me specifics, not glittering generalities, because right now, I’m thinking that your national interests are not my national interests nor are they in the national interests of those mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters who have gold star flags hanging in their front windows.

If Iraq divides into three states, we all know what will happen. The most war-like state will soon absorb the other two. They will then, in all likelihood absorb Syria and move on Iran. The United Nations will condemn them and they won’t give a damn. The Israelis will fight them and eventually use a nuclear weapon to defeat them, or perhaps by that time, the war-like state will have nuclear weapons and the world’s Armageddon will have come about. Only at that point will some sage declare, “It’s Obama’s fault for not sending in “advisors” and “trainers,” and once more, I will have been proven wrong…but it won’t really matter to me; I’ll be dead.

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As if this Congress wasn’t already as useless as balls on a priest –well, that used to be true, but one never can be certain nowadays – they have now taken it upon themselves to interfere with the names of National Football League teams? Please, give me just a bit of a break. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a national debt of trillions of dollars; we have a poverty problem that is damn near equal to  the Congo, Liberia, or Burundi; we haven’t found a cure for cancer; we have killers running amok in our schools, malls, and streets, and you’re worried about the Native American name of a football team? Are your collective heads stuck so far up your collective butts that you’re breathing through collective esophagi? Who the hell do you think you are, the NCAA?

Boy, did Donald Sterling open a can of worms or what? Sure, his remarks were way off base. They were beyond racist; they were disgusting. However, follow-up remarks by Mark Cuban were right on the money. Remarks that Bill Cosby has been making for years…right on the money. The Black family dynamic is not broken; it’s shattered. The condition of the Native American population in Alaska is crap as are the living conditions for Native Americans wherever they happen to be located in this country. Why the hell isn’t Congress doing something about that? Forget the friggin’ name of a god damned football team and start doing something constructive, you bunch of fools!

Several years ago, the National Collegiate Athletic Association went after schools that used Native American terms for their mascots. The Stanford and Dartmouth Indian, the Fighting Illini of Illinois, the Florida Seminoles…oh, wait a minute; they still are the Seminoles. I wonder what happened there? The NCAA and the United States Congress…yep, a couple of hypocritical bodies if I’ve ever seen them. The NCAA  won’t go near any team that brings big bucks into their coffers and the US Congress doesn’t have a clue about resolving major issues so they assault the minor ones and tell America how great they are.

Several years ago, a group of women at one college attempted to have the mascot changed because they felt insulted by having a beaver as the institution’s pride and joy. For those of you who have been living under a rock, the beaver is a slang term for a woman’s vagina. I’d love to see the NCAA take the lead in eliminating that one from Oregon State, MIT, Cal Tech, Babson, or U. Maine-Farmington.

The United States Senate, half of whom wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, don’t really give a damn about the Redskins name. It’s a ploy to direct criticism of their lack of productivity away from the Senate. Either that or these men and women are finally beginning to understand just how badly the tribes were mistreated by our white ancestors. I love the fact that Senator Bill Nelson of Florida was one of the writers to Goodell. Excuse me Senator, what have you had to say to Dr. Garnett Stokes, President of Florida State, about the Seminole name…whoops!

Have Native Americans been mocked and humiliated since the Pilgrims – hell, since DeSoto – landed on our shores? You bet your ass they have; if Native Americans, here long before invaders from other countries…we call them explorers and settlers; it’s so much more polite…if Native Americans got in the way of what others wanted, it was no problem…kill them! Stab them, burn their villages, shoot them; do whatever you wish to them; hell, they’re just ignorant savages. Ugly doesn’t begin to describe what we did to the original inhabitants of this continent. And now, 400 plus years later, we’re asking a football team to change its name because it offends some old white guys? Oh, puh-leze, don’t even try to explain that one. I wonder why the Senate hasn’t gone after the Kansas City Chiefs or professional baseball’s Cleveland, Indianapolis, Gulf Coast, or Spokane Indians or Atlanta Braves. Perhaps President Obama should write to the NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman and tell him to change the name of the Chicago Blackhawks. The extent to which this whole thing could be carried is ludicrous.

Maybe the Senate’s next move will be to ask people to change their names because those old farts in Washington don’t believe them to be politically correct. They would probably come after me – although I’m a ‘B’ and it would be Centuries before they got to me – and tell me that I’m too profane [or honest] to have the name, Bishop. Perhaps my son’s great grandchildren would be the ones to tell them to “Kiss my rosy red…cheeks!” Anyone with “Saint” in their name would be tarred and feathered at the very least or perhaps burned at the stake as a heretic. Hell, if we’re going to go back to our old ways, why not? Heck, Oklahoma is already heading back toward the old days with their “open carry” law on guns. The not-so-humorous part of that is that my Dad said that would happen shortly before he died. “It wouldn’t surprise me,” he said, “if before you die, you don’t see places where carrying a gun in public will be legal again.” Those might night have been his precise words, but I always gave Pop the benefit of the doubt!

I’m beginning to think that maybe we don’t have to worry about being taken over by some foreign country a few Centuries from now. We’re doing such a wonderful job of messing up our own nation; we might’s well just continue to let the politicians screw us up. Hell, when less than half the eligible voters in West Virginia, Texas, or Oklahoma turn out to vote in a Presidential election, and when just over half of the nation’s eligible voters go to the polls, we deserve exactly what we get. But…by God and all that’s holy, we cannot have a football team in the nation’s capitol that bears the name, “Redskins;” no sireee, Bob, and if you don’t believe me, just ask the members of the Senate of the You Knighted States of America!

 

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Aha, oho, eureka, and all that good ‘stuff;’ here we are back in the time of William “The Bard of Avon” Shakespeare once more. This time we are listening to Puck, that mischievous elf from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as he decries, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” We will not criticize, dramatize, synthesize, or even analyze what he is actually saying [about the lovers], but the pintsized elf makes a damned good point.

It appears that ever since we learned to rise up and walk on two feet – thereby negating the need for Johnson & Johnson band aids for the hands – man has been behaving foolishly throughout history. Take fire for example; you just know that some damned fool was going to cook his hand or foot before he discovered that it was a pretty good thing over which to cook dinner or into which one could toss enemies. We think the smokers of today, who flick their cigarettes out the window and into the forest, thus causing the destruction of tens of thousands of acres, are spawn of the south end of a horse going north; it’s a wonder that earth survived the first fire users. Doesn’t it make you wonder if anyone ever tried to eat a burning stick…oy, oy, oy!

I like to picture the person who invented the wheel, standing at the top of a hill, ready to test this new thing. At the bottom of the hill is his buddy, getting ready to stop it from rolling on forever. The only problem with this is that the wheel is made of stone. It may weigh fifty pounds; it may weigh 500; it doesn’t matter. This mortal at the bottom will receive a very rude awakening when he steps in front of this stone wheel to stop it…clunk. While the steamroller – not Mannheim – would come about several hundreds of Centuries later, we must assume that the mortal at the bottom of the hill was, indeed, a flattened fool and that this was not exactly a “eureka moment” for him.

Who was the first mortal fool who had the idea to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel? Adventure, no; foolish, yes, but in 1901 Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to successfully ‘barrel’ down the falls and survive. Annie was hoping that this misadventure would bring her fame and fortune…and it did…for a while. However, she died a pauper twenty years later. For those who read Remember Who?, it answers one of your questions.

Walter Camp is considered to be the “Father of American Football.” I think it’s quite possible that if Camp were alive today, he would echo Puck in declaring those who play the game to be fools of the first order. I say this with all love and affection for watching the game on television. Those who declare, “Oh but you don’t get the true feeling for the game if you’re not there!” Thank you very much, but I can probably see the game much better, not to mention the fact that I’m not freezing my ass off or sitting so high in the stands that the players look like ants and that the only way to differentiate the teams is by the colors of the uniforms. While the fools in the NCAA and the NFL are coming to understand the price that players pay, it certainly doesn’t appear that they are willing to make changes to protect these players. America is a violent country and football an exceedingly violent athletic event.

Nowhere is a person viewed to be more a fool of the first order than when he or she decides to run for a political office that will take him or her to Washington, D.C. for the performance of her or his duties. Time and time and time again, politicians publically demonstrate the truth of the hypothesis that those who want the job the most are those who are most unqualified for it. After Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos demonstrated to 60 Minutes Charlie Rose the drone delivery program the company is working on, he went on to explain all of the complexities involved with FAA regulations among other issues. The next day, Massachusetts’ junior Senator Edward Markey spoke to the media explaining that the program could not hope to happen for years because of FAA regulations. Excuse me, Senator, but Mr. Bezos explained all of that on 60 Minutes. It’s just another case of a politician who would prefer to use his head for a cork for his butt rather than use it for intelligent analysis.

It was back in 1969  when Lawrence Peter and Raymond Hull first introduced the Peter Principle which, when defined, states, “The Peter Principle is a proposition that states that the members of an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability. The principle is commonly phrased, “Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence. … “ Following 40 plus years of employment in higher education, I can state without fear of contradiction that nothing could be closer to the truth. Friends who have worked in law, accounting, engineering, town governments, etc, ad infinitum have regaled various and sundry other friends with tales of remarkable stupidity…the classic being, “We never have time or money to do it right the first time, but we always find the time and the additional funds to do it over.”

Scientists constantly question whether or not there is intelligent life “out there.” Frankly, I have to agree with those who believe that there is, somewhere, in some galaxy, a life form that so far exceeds the intelligence they have already seen on this land of milk and honey that they believe we are beyond redemption; that we are neither trainable or educable and, therefore, decline at all costs our dreary attempts to contact them. Perhaps they echo Puck and say, “What fools these mortals be!”

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Two of the day-long workshops that I used to teach were Domestic Violence and Bullying. Both were quite popular, and while they were far from being ‘fun’ days, it was nice to at least believe the audiences left with a better understanding of what they could do to help prevent both from happening in their community. It also taught them that like the drug war that law enforcement faces on a daily basis, we will never wipe out either of these things. Someone is battered every 15 seconds in the United States of America. You think we’re going to stop that, let me tell you about the tooth fairy. How about the occurrence of bullying? During the course of a school year, it’s estimated that a child is bullied about every seven minutes. I don’t care how many courses or penalties or workshops or whatever, you cannot stop this phenomenon. The only thing that you and I can do is work toward the prevention of these forms of cruelty.

October seventh is “Stand Up To Bullying” day. It’s a day when, particularly in Southern Florida – don’t ask me why; I don’t have a clue – everyone is supposed to wear his or her blue shirt. The little kids who are wearing them will get punched out by the bigger kids who don’t give a damn and who will be bullies until somebody comes along, kicks the crap out of them and tells them to stop bullying younger kids…or the next time it will be worse! Get one thing straight…you cannot reason with someone who is a bully, particularly if he or she is a young child. You have a ball that I want and if you won’t give it to me, I will take it because I’m bigger than you are and I can knock you down. Six and seven year old kids don’t understand peer negation behavior, and if they get away with the bullying behavior, they will continue to use it to get what they want. There are people who go through life as bullies; they bully in the workplace and when they are called on their bad behavior, they either back off temporarily or they move on to a job where they can get away with it. Management by intimidation is not a myth, and that is a form of bullying.

I went off on a tangent in that preceding paragraph and I really didn’t mean to do so; it’s just that old habits die hard, and both of those topics really raise my blood pressure. By the way, October ninth is Domestic Violence day. They probably have a shirt for that, too, but I haven’t seen them on sale yet. It’s no laughing matter, and I shouldn’t make light of a situation that is just so repugnant to me, but it seems that the American way is to designate a day, week, or month to some cause or other. Many of these celebratory – if that’s what one wishes to call them – days are no cause for celebration at all. They are ongoing and bad things that we should be trying, with everything we’ve got, to eradicate them.

Depending on the calendar to which you adhere, October is Fair Trade, Pizza, Computer Learning, National Roller Skating, International Dinosaur, Hunger Awareness, and several other celebratory months. Personally, I look at October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is one of the cancers that contributed to the death of my wife so it makes October a pretty easy month for me to be more aware of that @#$%&* disease.

It seems that every day of the year has some kind of recognition. For example, my birthday, September 1st, is also Emma M. Nutt Day. ..don’t laugh. While Emma may have gone the way of the dinosaur because of technology, she was the world’s first telephone operator…sort of a patron saint of those switchboard wonders of yesteryear. It’s also Calendar Adjustment Day, and I don’t have a freakin’ clue what that is. As I was growing up, my parents seemed to take great delight in letting me know that on my fifth birthday, Hitler invaded Poland. Somehow, I never thought of that as being something of an accomplishment…although I have mentioned it to a few grandchildren as they were celebrating their fifth. They invariably let me know my age by responding, “What’s a Hitler?” Lovely little shits! September is also Chicken Month which could, in part, explain why I never became a boxer or a football player in the NFL, although I believe it actually means we are celebrating that fine bird that can be eaten in so many ways. If we begin the month with Emma Nutt, we end it with National Mudpack day. “Make yourself beautiful for Mud Pack Day by plastering your face and skin with (safe, ‘clean’) mud! Keep your skin supple, your pores clear and your face looking youthful and clean – just don’t forget to wipe the mud off!” Thus endeth the month of September.

You and I are living in a time when there is too little humor in our lives. Between the gun violence that is taking place not only in our country but throughout the world, the fear of our own government having to shut down, a staggering national debt for which there really is no cure, unemployment, and an economy that is moving ahead at what seems a snail’s pace, it seems easier to walk around with a grimace rather than a grin. Hey, don’t take life too seriously; what the hell, you ain’t gonna get out of it alive!

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Recognizing that you have better things to do with your time I thought that you’d perhaps like a history lesson regarding St. Patrick’s Day. After all, tomorrow is March 17th, and on that particular day the pure Irish, half-Irish, and the ‘wannabe’s’ break out their green  and pretend they understand Gaelic or Celtic greetings. For you Bostonians, that’s not the Boston Celtics; this ‘C’ is pronounced like a ‘K.’ So when someone greets you with “Céad Míle Fáilte,” you may return their “one hundred thousand welcomes” with “Sláinte” – to your health – or you can prove you’re not really Irish by merely staring like the damned fool you’re proving yourself to be!

First off, let’s get a few things straight. St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland wasn’t even Irish. I’m not certain I’d want to say that to an uninformed Irishman who’s had one too many at O’Hara’s Doyle’s, Murphy’s, Finnegan’s or even someplace trying to pass itself off as “The Irish Pub.”  Patrick was actually born in Britain nearly the end of the Fourth Century when Britain was still part of the Roman Empire. He was kidnapped by a group of Irish raiders when he was 16 and was held prisoner for six years. According to history.com, it was “During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian.” Eventually, he escaped the Irish heathens – being half Irish I can say that; if I was one hundred percent Irish, I could say, “damned heathens,” but I’m not so I won’t.

Devoutly religious, Patrick believed in a dream which told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Following his ordination as a priest, that’s exactly what he did. His charge was to minister to the small group of Christians living on the island and to convert the pagans to Christianity. This contradicts the statement that Patrick actually introduced Christianity to Ireland. It’s not dissimilar to saying that he chased the snakes out of Ireland; there never were any snakes. The water around the island was too cold for any to swim and what damned fool would bring snakes to such a heavenly spot?

In his attempts at converting those who were not Christian, Patrick incorporated some of the nature-based pagan symbols into his teachings.  He celebrated Easter with bonfires because pagans used fire to appease or to honor their gods. He also placed a ‘sun’ on the traditional Christian cross. The Celtic cross can still be seen wherever Irish immigrants are found.

Patrick, not yet a saint, died on March 17tth, AD. For the most part he was forgotten but Irish storytellers built his history into the tale it has become today. Perhaps that was where the term ‘blarney’ originated although if you drown him in a few pints o’ Guinness, most Irishmen can spin you a pretty good yarn or two.

Since I can’t say it better, let me quote history.com once more…“The Irish culture centered around a rich tradition of oral legend and myth. When this is considered, it is no surprise that the story of Patrick’s life became exaggerated over the centuries—spinning exciting tales to remember history has always been a part of the Irish way of life.” So it doesn’t matter if tomorrow you greet a friend with “Beannachtam na Femle Padraig” or “Happy Saint Patrick’s Day,” they both mean the same thing. Enjoy your day.

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Old people don’t like change. In my youth, and even up until my early seventies, I thought that was just another urban myth; a fallacy that one could disregard as being propagated by the very young. When computers first came into our workplace, nearly everyone was excited about this new technology and how it would allow us to do so many more things and how the things we were already doing would be made so much easier. Oh, wait a minutes, I said “nearly everyone.”  There was one woman who didn’t dare turn her computer on. I heard all sorts of stories as to why she took this approach, everything from “it could take over your mind,” to “it emits waves that can kill you.” She wasn’t all that old, but she was a bit strange. She was the one who’d been arrested at sit-ins, and was a devoted follower of Greenpeace and Save the Whales…nothing wrong with it unless you have an aversion to spending time behind bars. Therefore, she was excused as something of a kook. I will give her this; however, she stuck to her guns even though it meant losing her job.

My late wife, Joan, was not a fan of computers either. Once, after we had received notification from the bank about the simplicity of online banking, I suggested to Joan that we try it. I might as well have suggested we start a bonfire in the street with our savings…trust me, it wouldn’t have been a bonfire. Can you say, “Blow it out with one small breath?”

After Joan passed, I jumped on the electronic banking bandwagon. Hot damn, it certainly has made my life easier. I have become ‘semi-paperless’ when it comes to paying bills. Between the firewalls on my computer, those that the bank uses, and my backup with Carbonite, I feel like a pretty “hip and trendy” senior citizen. It was a major change, but change was no problem.

When my current life partner came along, “reduce, reuse, and recycle” took on a whole new meaning. It, too, was something I attacked like a hungry dog with a bone. It was wonderful to put out one small bag of trash each week and bring out two barrels of recyclables at the same time. It was a big change, but once again, change was no problem.

When my partner suggested that we have a garden, I thought, “Oh-ma-God, with my bad knees and my bad back, this would kill me. “Honey,” I said in my softest, smoothest, ‘Holy shit” voice, “I don’t know how much help….” Her hand came up in a “STOP” motion. “That’s the royal ‘we,’ she said, “I love to garden; you love to write. You pick out what you like – the “and pay for it” was implied – and I’ll do the work.” Of course, it wound up that she paid as much as I did, and she did all the work. It was another rather large change, but in the end, it was fantastic.

My point is the change can be difficult at any age, but if you go with the flow, everything will be fine. You can turn on your computer without it swallowing you up and taking you to the land of semi-conductors and microchips only to be spit out as a motherboard. You can bank through the use of electronic mail without some greedy, money-hungry monster absconding with all of your hard-earned loot – if yer comin’ after me, you must be pretty damned hard up! You can trust the one you love to turn your weed filled yard…”but it’s green”…into a thing of beauty without (a) getting you taken away on a stretcher, (b) sending you to the poorhouse because of the cost of bulbs (c) disturbing the area normally used by the dog for her morning ‘business!’

Now…all of the above being said, I find that, in point of fact, there has been a change which I was not able to accept; had actually been mourning, and even sank into something of a depression regarding…my gym closed! (Loud scream; many tears and tantrums; getting ‘bitch-slapped and told to build a bridge and get over it;’ and finally sitting back down to the keyboard).

I have been attending the same gym for nearly 20 years. I have watched the management change, and I have watched some of the equipment replaced and updated. During my time, I’ve made many, many friends. I’ve watched some of those same friends die. I’d go to the wake or the funeral and the place would be filled with people from “the gym.” I watched other people battle cancer, go through operation after operation, have this knee replaced or that hip done. Over nearly two decades, some people came and went, but there was always a cadre of loyal supporters who made up the community that we called, “the gym.”

The gym closed without so much as a by-your-leave. One day it was open; the next day the doors were locked. There was no warning. There wasn’t even a sign saying that the gym was going out of business…badda bing, badda bang…gone. This was a change I could not accept. There wasn’t much I could do about it. Buying the gym certainly wasn’t an option…I’m still waiting for that ship to come in! Go to another gym? I won’t know anyone. It’s surprising how social interaction becomes a part of your life. When you eliminate all or even a part of that social interaction, the change can have a genuine effect on your behavior.

After a week of what has been described to me as “mourning,” I tried another gym. I can just hear one of my Jewish friends saying, “You sat Shiva for a gym for an entire week? What are you, crazy?” To some extent they may be right. It was crazy to sit around and mope. The gym to which I went had more modern equipment; it was air conditioned; it had more equipment than I’ve ever seen in a gym. It was beautiful. And, guess what? Many of my friends from the old gym were there. We commiserated before, during, and after our workouts…but we were together. As I was leaving, I said to the gentleman at the desk, “Thanks for letting me try out your gym.” He responded by saying that he was sorry my place had closed; and he welcomed me to come back anytime.

I will change; I won’t be crazy about it, but I will, if for no other reason than not having to listen to the critics say, “Ah, you’re too old to change!”

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Atheist: One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or Gods.

Everyone, repeat, everyone is entitled to his or her beliefs. Everyone also has the right to agree or disagree with those beliefs. However, no one has the right to denigrate or deny another what he or she may hold as their own beliefs. I am a Christian and, as such, I do happen to believe in God. I can also accept the Jewish beliefs; for example, Jews believe that God is one and not indivisible, i.e, that there is no trinity.  I will accept that belief of my Jewish brethren…doesn’t mean I agree with it, but I’ll accept it because that is what they believe. I can accept the teachings of Islam, one of these being the Jesus was not crucified as planned by his enemies but that he was saved by God. To get into the differences between these three of the more than 20 major religions in the world would not be my forte. My beliefs are mine; your beliefs are yours…but don’t you dare tell me what I cannot or cannot do with my beliefs, because then, we have a problem. Such a problem now exists between me and the atheists who have brought suit to exclude the “cross-like” piece of one of the original World Trade Center towers from the memorial being built on the site of the disaster.

I agree with a number of people that the of wreckage from the World Trade Center tragedy is not the prettiest thing in the world. It’s a piece of wreckage that represents the memory of that horrible September morning. I don’t believe it ever should have been taken to St. Peter’s Church , and I certainly don’t believe they should have erected a plaque that read, “The cross at ground zero.”  The fact that it resembles the Christian symbol of a cross is irrelevant. It’s a piece of wreckage that has meaning for everyone…atheists included. As my friend would say, “Build a bridge…and get over it!”

 Having said all of the above, let me go on. One report that I read said that, “The 9/11 Memorial Foundation told ABC that other religious artifacts, including a Star of David and a Jewish prayer shawl, will be added the museum ahead of its scheduled opening on September 12, 2011.” Had I been on the committee, I would have asked, “How many religions are we missing? Why have we selected only these two? Other than the terrorists themselves, how many Muslims died in the Twin Towers? Were any of the fatalities atheists? Should we use the reversed ichthus with legs for them? What about representation of Hinduism; after all, it’s the third largest religion in the world…how many Hindu’s died?”

There are so many questions regarding symbols andsymbolism and what should or should not be considered in creating a memorial to the 3000+ victims – you can more than double that when you think of the families left behind – that it is an impossible task to design something that will fit appropriately. The design selected for the Oklahoma City Murrah Building was from 624 proposals. Every state and nearly two dozen countries submitted plans. The result is a museum and tribute that is neutral and non-denominational. Would that work in New York? Of course it would…but it would never get built because there could never be agreement. That is not to say that the tragedy in Oklahoma was lessened by what happened on 9/11/01. The 168 people in Oklahama are just as dead as the people in the Twin Towers. They are just as much a loss; the survivors and families are left with just as many questions. It is the magnitude of the New York tragedy that makes the task of memorializing those victims more difficult.

From what I’ve been able to learn the site of the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, PA will be a non-denomination tribute to those brave people who prevented the hijackers from achieving their goal. The Pentagon Memorial, likewise, has no religious connotations. It is described as something “…one meant to be felt.” If you’ve ever visited Arlington National Cemetery, the Lincoln or Jefferson memorials, or the Iwo Jima memorial, you can fully comprehend what is in that statement.

Perhaps in the long run, cooler heads will prevail. St. Peter’s would be a fine place for the steel girders. If Christians wish to honor theirs who died on that day, it would be the perfect place to do so; after all, Catholic and Protestant religions are bound together by calling themselves “Christians.”  As for the memorial at ground zero, since it cannot possibly please all religious or non-religious people, let’s please everyone by taking religion out of the picture. It’s been done in so many other places of tribute and honor; why can’t it be done at Ground Zero?

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