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Home arrow Blog arrow December 2009 arrow December 1, 2009

December 1, 2009
December 1, 2009: Mo, Moaning and More War

Mo is for Moses, a female feline found by a friend of mine in the cat tails of Lakeshore Drive when she was about three weeks old. The vets best estimate is she was born in early June, right about the same time as my last trip to occupied east Jerusalem [
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Mo had her hysterectomy
this morning and moaned throughout the twelve minute car ride home from the vet at 5 PM. The vet's assistant said Mo would sleep the rest of the afternoon and not to give her anything by mouth until 9, then warned if Mo bites her sutures she would need a cone collar.

By 6 PM, Mo was pacing the floor and pleading for substance but as soon as she consumed food and water, she resumed biting her sutures and moaning.

No amount of my holding, rocking or walking the floors with her, could stop Mo's pitiful moan. By 8 PM, I gave Mo an early dose of her pain med, a little more to eat and placed her on top of a lamb's wool bed and gently shoved her into the cat carrier.

Mo's moan morphed into a growl. 

Mo had been the sweetest, most gentle and least neurotic of all the cats I have ever had; but she is also having the hardest recovery from a spay/neutering that I have ever witnessed.

Mo has finally fallen asleep, perhaps lulled by the sounds of my typing at the keyboard, for usually Mo curls up against my butt as I write and she sleeps.

This weekend the Christmas tree went up and the house is clean; even filled seven Hefty-lawn bags with clothes to take to the homeless shelter and am now seriously considering beginning the writing of my third book.

Before I picked up Mo, I finished Pat Conroy's latest, South of Broad, which is told through a writer who concludes how just one day and the immense, unanswerable powers of fate can shift the course of thousands of lives and anything at all can happen.

Mo just broke out of her cat carrier-it took less than forty five minutes-and she is now licking the bandages I had taped over her sutures before I had attempted to sequester her.

Thankfully Mo is no longer moaning, but she has already managed to loosen her bandages, so I will conclude today with a repeat of myself-another reflection about cats and end with a report regarding Obama's troop increase for Afghanistan.





Compassion: sorrow for the suffering of others accompanied by the urge to do something to help

A reflection on Iraq I wrote shortly after the USA bombed Baghdad


Excerpted from KEEP HOPE ALIVE
Chapter 13: CATS AND COMPASSION


Terese absentmindedly caressed the pristine one hundred sheet Official Mead Composition notebook during breakfast. Terese had been writing poetry for years, but refused to let anyone read any of it. She even refused Jake and had a secret ritual. The first full moon after she completed a book, she would light a fire at 1 a.m. in the fire pit where Jake barbequed. She would read her words one last time by the light of the moon, then toss in the Official Mead Composition notebook. She would walk in circles as it burned, and only after the embers died did her ritual circular walk.

After breakfast, she brushed her teeth, grabbed her backpack, and set off into the woods, pondering, “I have been wrestling with this idea for a book for too long. Will this try end up in the fire, too?  As always, I do not know; I never know anything before I begin, and as long as I stay open to learn as I go, it will be okay, okay. Christ have mercy on me and help me, please! How do I explain concrete walls to little children, and why men choose violence? How do you explain irrational adult behavior to little ones? Why do men choose hatred, injury, discord, error, and darkness to love, pardon, unity, truth, and light? Why is that? Christ have mercy on us all!”

Terese sighed deeply and immediately became aware of the sun’s rays filtered through the thickly canopied trail, and sensed the scurrying of small creatures around her, who were camouflaged beneath the thick carpet of leaves she tread upon. At the end of the trail, a gazebo had been erected in memory of a fallen soldier in a long ago war. Terese blessed herself as she entered, then opened her backpack, removed three gel pens and the one hundred sheet Official Mead Composition notebook, and groaned, “Okay, okay.”
 
Terese stared at the upper left corner of the virgin leaf of paper in her Official Mead Composition notebook and sighed as she chewed the end of a gel pen. After a few deep breathes, she set the tip down at the uppermost intersection of the red vertical line and the first of twenty-four horizontal blue lines, and watched in amazement as words filled the page:

I am an old crone now, but I once was your age.

I remember, when I saw a picture in the newspaper of a little naked girl running in terror from a mushroom cloud, and I wondered, why did that girl have to run for her life in her hometown, when in mine, everyone was safe and happy?

That girl in the picture wasn’t safe, and she was not happy. I wondered about her, and me, and my hometown, and America.

I am an old crone now and I still wonder...

When images from Vietnam were on the TV screen, I was a mom of three and seven months pregnant with twins.

I went into early labor on the day a shot rang out in my hometown, and America’s prophet bled on the concrete of Memphis.

 
Terese sighed, flipped to a clean page, and wondered, “I am getting nowhere. I want to explain why there is war to children, but I don’t know how to go about it.”

She chewed the end of her gel pen and stared into the pistil and stamen of a white and violet day lily that grew next to the gazebo. A gunfire round of riveting from the redheaded woodpecker above her head brought Terese back to her empty page, and she sighed, “Christ, have mercy on me. What’s the deal with me? How could I think I could write a story to explain war to children, when I don’t understand why war has to be?”

She bit her lip and sighed a few more times, before putting the gel pen back to the paper. She lit up like a Christmas tree as the words flew from her fingers:

Have you heard the one about Dorothy and her cats?
 
Dorothy was about your age when her tiny orange and calico cat named Peachez met with an early demise. You see, little Peachez, barely a year old, got too big for her breeches, and snuck out Dorothy’s front door. Nobody knew except Rikki, the deer dog who lived next door.

Rikki could not resist his nature to hunt, and Peachez was most exotic fare, for in this neighborhood, cats lived inside. Little defenseless Peachez never had a chance, for Rikki bit right through the neck of that tiny orange and calico cat.

Oh, how Dorothy mourned; oh, how she grieved; after a week, her mother could take it no more, and told her, “Girl, you need a new kitty!”

Dorothy agreed.

“Then, I will call the cat league and see what they have in stock, okay, Dorothy?”

“Okay, okay, do it for me, please.”

“Happily,” her mom replied, as she dialed the animal league.

Dorothy could not believe it when she heard her mother say, “Hi, have you got any kitties that need a home?”

Dorothy exploded, “No, not just any kitty, I know exactly what I want. I want a pure white cat with blue eyes the color of the summer sky, and I’ll call him Bob.”

“Okay, okay. Did you hear all that, lady from the animal league?”

“Yes, I did, and, ah--good luck with it. I have a lot of cats that could be Bob; some have pure white fur, but not a one has blue eyes.”

“Okay, thanks, we will continue on,” Dorothy’s mom sighed, as she hung up the phone.

 “Girl, I have to pick up the dry cleaning next to the veterinarian’s office. Come with me now, and maybe someone there will be able to help you find your Bob with blue eyes and white fur on.”
 
For the first time since Peachez demise, Dorothy smiled when she said, “Okay, okay.”

Dorothy and her mom stood in line at the vet’s office for an interminable time before a doe-eyed brunette, as thin as a French-cut string bean, noticed them and inquired, “Hi, can I help you?”

Dorothy replied, “I am looking for the cat of my dreams; he has pure white fur and eyes the color of the summer sky, and his name is Bob.”

“Well, this is most numinous. You see, I have a five-year-old cat back in storage that needs a home. He is very sad, for he has been in a cage for almost seven months. He has licked off all his hair, and he pouts a lot.

“You see, it was Thanksgiving week when his first family dropped him off. They didn’t love him. They tossed him away. They wanted the doctor to give him a shot, to put him to sleep. But I said, ‘No way! I’ll put that cat in storage, and one day, someone will come in here and take him away.”’

Dorothy’s mom interrupted. “There must be a reason that family tossed that cat away.”
 
The doe-eyed string bean replied, “Sister, let me tell you, this cat is no more neurotic than any other cat I have known. I will not lie to you, for he is indeed one neurotic cat, who never was a beauty. But he did have white fur when he came in here, and his eyes are still as blue as a summer sky. He is most definitely OC; you see, he licks himself a lot, and so, is now as bald as a bat.

“Oh, by the way, he whines like a banshee and paces about. You see, after his upsetting Thanksgiving holiday, the vet fixed him for Christmas, and no doubt you can imagine why he is naturally still quite upset about that. Oh, by the way, he has claws, and since he is too old for surgery, they must stay. But, sister, I assure you, he’s no more or less neurotic than any other cat around. Follow me into the back room, and you will see that he really is a cool cat; you should take him away.”

“I think Dorothy wants a blue-eyed baby kitty, not one so worn-out,” Dorothy’s mother pleaded, looking hopefully at her daughter.

“I don’t care how old he is, as long as he is my Bob,”  Dorothy shouted over the cacophony of barking and yelping, as the doe-eyed string bean stopped in front of the center cage and announced,

“Surely, I told you--this cat has always been called Bob.”
 
And with that, she turned, and with one smooth motion, unlatched the cage and pulled out a long scrawny cat, with a few patches of white fur, but mostly skin showing. His enormous blue eyes, the color of the summer sky, looked into Dorothy’s, and he moaned like a baby in pain; Dorothy proclaimed, “He’s the one!”

Dorothy took him home on her shoulder as her mom drove the Crossfire, and Bob never moved a muscle, nor made a sound. Dorothy’s mom thought, This won’t be so bad, right?
 
As soon as Dorothy put Bob down in her room, he wailed and moaned, and Dorothy did not know what to do, until her mom told her, “He’s just like a baby, and you may have to walk the floors holding him all night. Welcome to motherhood.”

Dorothy gleefully picked Bob back up and carried him around on her shoulder, just like you would a little baby. Every single time she put Bob down, he would whine, kvetch, and pace all around, and would stare at her with his blue eyes the color of a summer sky. Dorothy swore she heard him say, “Sister, I’ve got the blues bad, and I can’t  calm down unless you carry me around.”

The very next night, the bombs hit Baghdad.

All night, Dorothy walked the floors with Bob, the blue-eyed cat on her shoulder, and a heart breaking, breaking, breaking for all the innocents caught up in the crossfire. She knew she was connected. You are too.

In the 11th century, Hildegard of Bingen knew:

God responds speedily whenever the blood of innocence is being shed. Of this the angel choirs are singing and re-echoing their praise. And yet at the loss of innocence clouds are weeping.

Bob, the blue eyed cat, has now calmed down. He doesn’t want to be held, and he never makes a sound. His hair has grown back, pure white and coarse as grit. Into his summer sky blue eyes, clouds of cataracts have moved in. He moves slowly, slowly, slowly. Bob tucks his front legs under his chest and gently bows as he gets down. What a contemplative Bob has become, for deliberate movement is prayer.

A new kitty has moved into Dorothy’s house, too. A black and white long–haired, green-eyed feline named Oreo. Dorothy found her when she was only a week old and abandoned by her cat mom, who left the litter and never returned. Dorothy fed the baby kitty every three hours for three weeks with an eyedropper, and kept her warm.

Oreo has now grown big and strong, and likes to play, but sometimes can be a pain. Bob always treats her gently, even when she bites his tail; he either plays or he walks away.

Terese stretched and moaned, "That’s as far as I can go today."






Obama to detail big troop increase in Afghanistan

By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent Jennifer Loven, Ap White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON – After months of debate, President Barack Obama will spell out a costly Afghanistan war expansion to a skeptical public Tuesday night, coupling an infusion of as many as 35,000 more troops with a vow that there will be no endless U.S. commitment. His first orders have already been made: at least one group of Marines who will be in place by Christmas.

Obama has said that he prefers "not to hand off anything to the next president" and that his strategy will "put us on a path toward ending the war." But he doesn't plan to give any more exact timetable than that Tuesday night.

The president will end his 92-day review of the war with a nationally broadcast address in which he will lay out his revamped strategy from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He spent part of Monday briefing foreign allies in a series of private meetings and phone calls.

Before Obama's call to Britain's Gordon Brown, the prime minister announced that 500 more U.K. troops would arrive in southern Afghanistan next month — making a British total of about 10,000 in the country. And French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose nation has more than 3,000 in Afghanistan, said French troops would stay "as long as necessary" to stabilize the country.

Obama's war escalation includes sending 30,000 to 35,000 more American forces into Afghanistan in a graduated deployment over the next year, on top of the 71,000 already there. There also will be a fresh focus on training Afghan forces to take over the fight and allow the Americans to leave.

He also will deliver a deeper explanation of why he believes the U.S. must continue to fight more than eight years after the war was started following the Sept. 11 attacks by al-Qaida terrorists based in Afghanistan. He will emphasize that Afghan security forces need more time, more schooling and more U.S. combat backup to be up to the job on their own, and he will make tougher demands on the governments of Pakistan as well as Afghanistan.

"This is not an open-ended commitment," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. "We are there to partner with the Afghans, to train the Afghan national security forces, the army and the police so that they can provide security for their country and wage a battle against an unpopular insurgency."

On a few of the bigger questions most on the minds of increasingly restive members of Congress and the public, such as how much the additional $30 billion to $35 billion cost will balloon the already skyrocketed federal deficit, how long the U.S. commitment will continue and how it will wind down, Obama was expected to make references without offering specifics.

Gibbs said detailed discussions on costs would be held later with lawmakers.

Even before explaining his decision, Obama told the military to begin executing the force increases. The commander in chief gave the deployment orders Sunday night, during an Oval Office meeting in which he told key military and White House advisers of his final decision.

At least one group of Marines is expected to deploy within two or three weeks of Obama's announcement and will be in Afghanistan by Christmas, military officials said. Larger deployments will begin early next year.

The initial infusion is a recognition by the administration that something tangible needs to happen quickly, officials said. The immediate addition of Marines will provide badly needed reinforcements for those fighting against Taliban gains in the southern Helmand province, and also could lend reassurance to both Afghans and a war-weary U.S. public.

Obama's overall review was launched Aug. 31, when Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then the newly minted top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, delivered to Pentagon brass his assessment of the situation on the ground and what was needed to turn it around. McChrystal produced a separate resource request, first seen by Obama on Oct. 1. The president's review was anchored by 10 extensive war council meetings, starting on Sept. 13, that featured a debate between a counterinsurgency strategy focused on protecting the local population and building up the Afghanistan government or a more limited counterterrorism strategy.

The final product is neither, though it leans more toward counterinsurgency.

The length of the process drew sharp barbs. Less than two months in, Vice President Dick Cheney accused Obama of "dithering," beginning a drumbeat of criticism from Republicans. The White House shot back that the administration Cheney helped lead had given inordinate attention to Iraq while turning its back on Afghanistan.

But with U.S. casualties in Afghanistan sharply increasing and little sign of progress, the war Obama once liked to call one "of necessity," not choice, has grown less popular with the public and within his own Democratic Party. In recent days, leading Democrats have talked of setting tough conditions on deeper U.S. involvement, or even staging outright opposition.

The displeasure on both sides of the aisle is likely to be on display when congressional hearings on Obama's strategy get under way later in the week on Capitol Hill.

Obama spent much of Monday and Tuesday on the phone, outlining his plan — minus many specifics — for the leaders of France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China, India, Denmark, Poland and others. He also met in person at the White House with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

A briefing for dozens of lawmakers was planned for Tuesday afternoon, just before Obama left for New York to give his speech against a military backdrop.

He also was to call Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari — two leaders on whom the success of the plan will depend heavily.

In Afghanistan, rampant government corruption and inefficiency have made U.S. success much harder. Obama was expected to place tough conditions on Karzai's government, along with endorsing a stepped-up training program for the Afghan armed forces in line with recommendations this fall by U.S. trainers.

That schedule would expand the Afghan army to 134,000 troops by next fall, three years earlier than once envisioned.

The president faces a trickier task in talking tough on Pakistan.

Though extremist fighters and al-Qaida leaders are believed to be based in its western region near the border with Afghanistan, public scoldings from Washington can hurt as well as help Pakistani efforts because of pervasive anti-American sentiment. The U.S. cannot send troops into Pakistan, and rarely discusses the anti-terrorist missile strikes conducted inside Pakistan from U.S. drones.

Military officials said the speech is expected to include several references to Iraq, where the United States still has more than 100,000 troops. The strain of maintaining that overseas war machine has stretched the Army and Marine Corps and limited Obama's options.

He is expected to at least implicitly pledge not to return to the worst days of the Iraq war, when the Army was resorted to 15-month tours with little time at home between deployments and when National Guard and reserve troops were subjected to lengthy tours.


Associated Press writers Anne Gearan, Pamela Hess and Robert Burns contributed to this report.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_us_afghanistan




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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

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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



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