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We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that, among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. -July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence

 

Home arrow Blog arrow August 2009 arrow August 26, 2009

August 26, 2009
 August 26, 2009: Teddy, Bobby, Jimi, saints and sinners

                                Every saint has a past and every sinner a future.

I was just a kid in 1969, when Teddy drove into Chappaquiddick, but I remember images of him and how grief stricken he looked.

I felt as bad for him as I did for Mary Jo Kopechne and her family and friends, for being a kid, I knew how easy it was to do something stupid and selfish.

But what Senator Ted Kennedy's passing did for me, was first to remind me of what his brother said about HOPE:

"Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, these ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. " — Robert F. Kennedy

My hope is that Senator Kennedy's passing will reignite a spirit of HOPE that comprehends that "HOPE has two children. The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine


And then I recalled a song Jimi Hendrix did at Woodstock that very same year:

 




...Well, I stand up next to a mountain, and I chop it down with the edge of my hand. Well, I pick up all the pieces and make an island; might even raise a little sand… If I don't meet you no more in this world then I'll meet you on the next one...



And then I recalled what I wrote last May about something stupid I did that also illuminated to me that no matter how hard I try to be nonviolent in all ways-I am far from saint hood and death is always closer than we think:


Close Encounter with a Gator and the Violence Within

The ten of us in two fishing boats dropped anchor North of Sanibel at the south most tip of Caya Costa Island. The Fleming's annual beach house fishing week included four grandkids ages 5, 7, 9, 11 and their folks, a son-in-law, our daughter celebrating her 25th and a same aged niece from Washington State.

As we waded to shore in thigh high water, I asked my husband if I could walk around the island and John replied, "Sure you can."

We walked together in silence as my mind wandered and my gaze transfixed on sea and sky. I walked for some time before I turned around to look for John, but he had disappeared from view. I thought he was hunting for shells, so I just kept walking thinking I would soon come to the end of the isle across from Boca Grande.

The only other people I ever saw on the isolated island had been a young couple with a rented boat from Sanibel Harbor who had dropped anchor near to where we had and shortly thereafter, a woman my age who was missing more than a few teeth and playing fetch with one of the three ugliest mutts I have ever seen. One dog ran for drift wood, one played in the surf and the other dug a tunnel so deep into the sand, all that was visible was its tail. As I passed by, I commented,  "They are just like kids" and through her gap-tooth smile she murmured, "Yes, they are."

Just as the end of the island came into view, I crossed paths with a middle aged couple searching for shells and I soon regretted resisting the urge to ask if they knew how long it takes to walk all around the island.

As soon as I turned the corner of Caya Costa that led into Pelican Bay, all I could see were mangrove trees in front of me.

I wondered why my husband said I could walk around an island without sand on one side, and I was still clueless to the fact that I had treaded into brackish water-where salt and fresh unite.

For a fleeting moment I entertained the thought of swimming, for I was thirsty and hot and the mangroves were so thick that the cool breeze by the sea did not penetrate.

I had no idea how deep the water might be and as I only imagined that a shark might happen by, I nixed the swim and continued to wade around the cove remaining close to the mangroves.

Not until I had made my way through half the area, did I notice what I imagined was a root from a mangrove tree stretched out in a straight line twelve feet from the edge of the trees.

The furthermost end appeared eerily similar to a gator head, and I stopped and stood still and counted to thirty.

As the image remained stationary, I figured my imagination had only conjured up a gator for alligators live in fresh water and not salt.

I resumed walking and keeping my eyes on the 'root' which remained still, until I was less than a yard from it and only then did it rapidly descend beneath the water line.

I turned and fled as fast as I could all the while imagining a submerged gator grabbing my foot and dragging me out to sea to drown me before it devoured me.

I also had a fleeting thought that most writers do indeed have to die before people begin to read them.

By the time I reached dry land my heart was pounding like a Yamaha motor stuck on fast and I could not catch a deep breathe and a headache had kicked in, my knees were weak and my hands shook as if I had come down with an acute onset of advanced Parkinson's. I concentrated on slowly inhaling through my nose and fully exhaling to calm myself down and then I realized how intensely thirsty I was.

A surge of gratitude filled me moments later as heading towards me was the couple who had been shelling. As we crossed paths, I said, "Hi, my husband told me I could walk around this island, but I almost stepped on top of a huge gator around the bend and I am wondering now, if my husband of nineteen years was trying to off me!"

The wife laughed as she handed me a bottle of water and the man replied, "Well, it certainly could have for that's a ten foot gator that lives in the cove and this island is over five miles long. Where did you begin walking from?"

"Directly from the opposite end!"

"The only way back is the way you came, there is no way you can walk all around this island."

The bottle of water revived me and as I walked back the way I came, I encountered my violent side.

I was angry with myself for not turning back as soon as I realized I was all alone, but then my rage turned on my husband for telling me I could walk around an island that was five miles one way and a gator habitat on the other. As I was fuming I spied my husband's boat and three people waving at me.

I lunged into the surf and swam towards them, still holding onto the empty water bottle, but I was too weak to fight the surf and I let go of it just before I reached the boat and crawled up the ladder. I was too weak to move anything but my mouth and exploded, "John, you could have f-----g killed me by alligator!"

He yelled back, "Get in the damn boat before you kill us all" just as a wave gave pushed me over and filled the bottom of our boat.

I was absolutely clueless as to the danger I had put us all in and demanded that John go back so I could fetch the empty water bottle. He gunned the motor, shook his head and shouted, "This water is too rough and we could flip over!"

Within a few minutes we were out in calmer seas and John stopped the boat and calls, "Time out. We all tried to signal to you to stop swimming and get back to shore. I needed to pick you up at the end of the island where the water was calm."

"Calm my ass! I nearly stepped on top of a ten foot gator in a mangrove cove! Why did you tell me I could walk around this island?"

"I meant, walk around where we were at. What you didn’t know was that I turned back when I realized that the honeymoon couple had no idea what they were doing when they dropped anchor and they needed a lot of  help getting their boat back out. By the way, you were really lucky you didn’t encounter the herd of wild hogs-especially the boars- that inhabit Cayo Costa."

I was more than lucky and I also learned that no matter how hard I try to maintain a nonviolent attitude towards everyone, that the Hitler within me will always do battle with the Christ.

As I want Jesus to win the war within, I swiftly apologized for losing my temper and I began to wonder what good could come of such an event; for experience is not just what happens to you- but what you do with it.


As I drove home the next day doing 80mph on I-75 with the BOSE blasting, I was forced to a sudden and complete halt just as Jimi Hendrix wailed;

...Well, I stand up next to a mountain, and I chop it down with the edge of my hand. Well, I pick up all the pieces and make an island; might even raise a little sand… If I don't meet you no more in this world then I'll meet you on the next one...


At least fifteen minutes passed before all north bound traffic began to roll, but only a few yards at a time before stopping again for the next three miles until all lanes of traffic were funneled into one. I didn’t want to look at the why for; but I did anyway and saw the skid marks of the van that had careened off the highway and into a thicket of eighty feet high pine trees and oaks. At least nine flashing cop cars surrounded the site but I still caught a glimpse of what appeared to be two white sheets stretched out on the ground.

There was no stemming the tears that erupted as I recollected the goodbye hugs from my family just a few hours prior, and most especially the one in unison from the 5, 7, 9 and 11 year olds who call me Granny E.

I wondered and hoped/wished/prayed that all involved in the mornings violence on 1-75 had parted from family and friends on the highest ground with hugs all around and I realized as never before that every good bye; could be a final one. 
   
 
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"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

 "He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust." - Aquinas

BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's Freedom of Speech Trial

Published 10/30/10

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UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

" In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa


“You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has ceased...to obey the laws of life.”- Lewis Mumford, 1946



The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



“Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” - Rev. MLK
Establishment of Israel
"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
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