The Silence of a Falling Star Lights Up a Purple Sky

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The Silence of a Falling Star Lights Up a Purple Sky

I’ve Never Seen A Night So Long

Emotionally Raw, Tired, and Overwhelmed

I’m really tired tonight, emotionally exhausted. Trying to write my Grace in Small Things list for today was really hard. I took on a hard topic last night, and it’s still with me. Any one of the three stories that I found would have been pretty bad on its own, but to put all three together—I think that it was just too much.

I cannot get out of my head the image of the 93-year-old man who froze to death inside of his house because of a bureaucratic decision. I cannot forget about the two EMT’s who made the decision not to resuscitate a man based on the condition of his house. My god, if they came into my house right now, this very moment, if anyone who worked for social services or the city government came into my home right now they would think that I’m a terrible mother, that my children are deprived, that my house should be condemned, and most certainly, that I am not worth saving.

My house is a complete and total mess. I have cobwebs because I cannot reach them with my ostrich feather duster to clean them. The last time that I tried to do that, I pulled my back. My living room still has two dining room chairs in boxes because my eldest son refuses to take the ornaments off the Christmas tree. It has become a point of downright contention. My youngest son’s room is neat and tidy.

My room is relatively organized, but dusty. The kitchen looks like a disaster, but is wiped down daily with disinfectant spray, and the sink is scrubbed with liquid bleach. Clothes are washed and dried daily. Everyone bathes daily. I personally clean the bathroom on my hands and knees with a cloth and spray disinfectant because I don’t trust my sons to do it right, and Corey has enough to do around here. I can’t walk after I do it, and I have to get in bed and take my muscle relaxers afterwards, but it’s clean.

Regardless, the house still looks terrible because there are things everywhere from where we pulled things out to start the remodeling. Boxes, furniture, all sorts of things in the wrong places. Would that mean that I wouldn’t get the needed attention from an EMT because it wouldn’t look as if I deserved it? Who were these people to make this decision. I am completely flummoxed.

And then there is the story of the two children: Sage and Bear and their father. I have tried all day to put them out of my mind and find that I cannot because there are too many stories of too many children like Sage and Bear. I just came across another story of a 19-year-old and her boyfriend who beat to death her two -year-old daughter for not saying please, but she did manage to keep saying “Mommy I love you” while they beat the very life out of her.

There are too many stories like this for my heart to hold. I do not know how the men and women who work in these professions can do it, can go to their jobs everyday and hear about these children, or on the opposite side, hear about these monsters. I don’t know how social services can try to work with families who are so obviously dysfunctional but the courts say that placement with the biological parents is preferable. I don’t know how the doctors and nurses can look at the shattered bodies who are brought to them in the aftermath of parental and spousal warfare. I don’t know how the EMT’s can go into a house and remove the body of a 93-year-old man who died on a technicality.

Think of all that this man had survived: two world wars, the Great Depression, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, the Twin Towers, desegregation, women getting the vote, a man landing on the moon, cars, television, and telephones. He saw great inventions and terrible creations of mass destruction. He saw all of the wonderful things that our country celebrated: the end of wars, ticker tape parades, the first step on the moon, the destruction of the Berlin Wall, and he saw all of the evil of the world: Pearl Harbor, Nazi Germany, Waco, 9/11, and all of the rest. And the final helplessness of dying of hypothermia in his own home.

To all of the people who do the hard jobs that I know that I would like to do but cannot, I offer my sincere gratitude. You walk into houses. You look for the lost children. You do not stop until you find the monsters. You live with the monsters, carry them with you, tucked away in you back pockets so that they do not touch the sanctity of your own families, but they are always with you until you can pass them along to the next link in the chain.

And some of you are never able to let go of the monsters, even when they are dead and gone. That is their heinous legacy to those whose lives they have stolen.

Newest Statistic That I Never Needed To Know

So today I learned from one of the Veterans’ websites that everday approximately 18 American war veterans commit suicide; every month, almost 1,000 veterans receiving care from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs attempt suicide (http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/05/11/8868).

This startling statistic is news to most Americans because the Bush administration did not want this news to be made public to Americans. It has taken a law case, officially known as Veterans for Common Sense vs. Peake, for this news to reach the American public. This case is a class action lawsuit brought by Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for United Truth on behalf of 1.7 million veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under the conditions of the case, the VA had to produce a series of documents.

In one letter from Dr. Ira Katz, former head of the VA’s Mental Health Division, Katz opens his key e-mail with “Shh!” Katz advises a media spokesperson not to tell CBS News that 1,000 veterans receiving care at the VA try to kill themselves every month.

Another shocking number is 287,790—the actual number of American veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who had failed VA disability claims since March 25 2008. Other casualty statistics not normally revealed:  Number of American troops wounded in Iraq: 31,948;  Number of troops “injured” in Iraq”: 10,180; Number of  troops “ill” in Iraq: 28,451.

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Those three number total represent soldiers who are so damaged physically that they have to be evacuated to Germany. By splitting the numbers into three categories, it makes the number of casualties appear to be lower. Or, at least that was the thinking in the Bush administration.
 
Personally, the number manipulation just makes it that more tragic. These numbers are people, not numbers. If the American people were aware of just how many of its warriors were dying not only on foreign soil, but also on American soil, after they have come home, after they have been taken out of combat, if they only knew just how its veterans were waiting years for decisions on their benefits, perhaps they would be less complacent. If only we had seen the flag-draped coffins sooner, perhaps the reality might have moved beyond our periphery sooner.
Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day. More later. Peace.

Amber Waves of Grain

After 9/11, More Justifications and Some Pre-Election Reflections

Someone Needs To Remind W. That Lame-Duck Means No More Global Pissing Contests

Why aren’t more people up in arms about Syria? Granted, I myself am late in posting anything about this latest questionable move by the Bush administration, but the Sunday incursion into sovereign territory, namely Syria, is getting hardly any media coverage. Why? Is it because it was on Bush’s watch, and no one wants to go there? The White House refuses to comment on the raid.

The few details that I can find are from the following AP report:

U.S. military helicopters attacked an area along the country’s border with Iraq, causing casualties, Syria’s state-run television and witnesses said Sunday.

The TV report quoted unnamed Syrian officials and said the area is near the Syrian border town of Abu Kamal. It gave no other details on Sunday’s attack.

Local residents told The Associated Press by telephone that two helicopters carrying U.S. soldiers raided the village of Hwijeh, 10 miles inside Syria’s border, killing seven people and wounding five.

An unnamed U.S. official claims that the target was Abu Ghadiyah, an Iraqi from Mosul, and supposedly a key figure in smuggling fighters into Iraq. Syria has protested to the UN Security Council, and Iraq has denounced the attack, saying that it does not want its land used as a launching pad for attacks on neighboring lands.

According to an article in the New York Times, the raid is in keeping with what many are calling the Bush Doctrine II, which in essence, allows for an “expansive definition of self-defense that provided a rationale for strikes on militant targets in sovereign nations without those countries’ consent.” Bush elaborated on this expansion of his doctrine during his speech to the U.N. General Assembly last month:

“As sovereign states, we have an obligation to govern responsibly, and solve problems before they spill across borders,” Mr. Bush said. “We have an obligation to prevent our territory from being used as a sanctuary for terrorism and proliferation and human trafficking and organized crime.”

As with all things George Bush, the frightening part is that a) He believes it, and b) He means it. Hence, we cross the Iraqi border with Special Forces helicopters and carry out a raid on Syria.

You know those lines on maps? Pshaw, they don’t really mean anything to us. We’re Americans. We can go where we want to. It would almost be funny if it weren’t true.

America the Beautiful

Bear with me here while I ask you to follow me on a little bit of a journey, a journey into Lola logic. I will get to my point, which is about Barack Obama’s thirty minutes of ready-for-prime-time, but I have to start with 9/11. Trust me, it will work.

In those days immediately following the collapse of the Twin Towers, when Americans were feeling the collapse of everything we took for granted—security, safety, normalcy, the sanctity of the very ground beneath our feet—many of us flocked to our places of worship in that first weekend following the destruction that unfolded in real time. Our family did; we went to our church, which was, quite literally, standing room only. This is saying a lot since our church is quite a large, old, stately church, which seats hundreds of people.

Normally, I do not do well in crowds, and I begin to fidget when I am pressed in closely next to people for more than a few minutes, but that Sunday, I really didn’t notice. Most of the hymns that day were patriotic, and one of the first was “America the Beautiful.” Now I have always loved this song, preferred it over the national anthem, not just because it is much more adaptable to any voice, but also because it is more prosaic. And on that Sunday, by the time I got to “amber waves of grain,” I had tears running down my face as did numerous people around me. I suspect it was because many of us were unsure if our America would ever again be that beautiful, unsullied land of which we were singing.

Cut to last night at 8 p.m. and the opening shot of Barack Obama’s thirty-minute, strategical media buy, and what did I see but a field of waving, golden wheat, and for just a moment, I was back in that church, surrounded by those people, singing that song, being buoyed by not just a room but a nation that was sustaining each other in a common cause, in our grief, in our fear, in our despair, but also in our resolve to hope and to be the country that we knew that we could be, no matter what fate had handed us.

All of this went through my body in just a nano second and gave me a chill, and I knew in that second—call me the hopeless romantic that I am—that Barack Obama would be elected president and that we would move out of the quagmire of the past eight years and come together as a country again and become the country that the world knows and respects as a nation. I felt down to my soul that this country can move beyond its differences, can move beyond the ugliness, can move beyond this time of feeling helpless and desperate and lost. This one man and his vision and his sincerity and his true hope for this counry is the right person to do this. And all of that was just from the opening scene.

So kudos to whoever produced that segment. Was it a good media buy? Was it worth the $5 million or so? You betcha, gee golly, bless yer little heart. Right up to and through the last 60 seconds when it cut to live in Florida, it was flawless, and you know the McCain campaign was gritting their collective teeth that they didn’t have the funds to produce their own gnarly rebuttal. Obama has elevated campaigning to a whole new level. He has raised the bar so high that everyone who comes after is going to be hard pressed to live up to this kind of presidential campaign. But then again, everyone who comes after is going to be hard pressed to live up to this kind of candidate.

More later. Peace.