Remembering what’s important…


On September 11, 2001, the world gasped in dismay as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan crumpled to the ground one after the other in an agony of rending metal and billowing asbestos dust, flying glass and a ghastly confetti of thenceforth and forever futile business and financial documents.

2606 people perished at the Towers on that day; thousands were injured and later fell ill, and scores have passed away since, victims of the toxic dust, the traumas, and, for some, simply of broken hearts.

And even with the defiant, proud reconstruction of One World Trade, the New York City skyline still bears an empty space in silent and grieving testimony to the day on which so much was so brutally ripped away from so many.

At the Pentagon, Flight 77 rocketed into the heart of America’s bastion of strategic defense, killed 184 innocent people and left the country shockingly aware of its vulnerability.

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In a field near the little town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, a monument has been erected to the 40 selfless passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 who committed to vivid personification of John 15:13* when they decided of one mind to overcome the hijackers, thus avoiding an even greater massacre, though it cost all of them their lives.

 

And the world poured out its support on a grieving, traumatized America, and the best nature of humanity stood strong to defy the worst nature of humanity, to comfort and heal the wounded and the families and make sure love and hope triumphed.

Almost two decades later, how far have we really come, from there?

Are we better women and men, better Americans, better citizens of the world, better caretakers of our children’s health and future; are we more understanding of the impacts of our own decisions on others; are we better Christians or Hindus or Jews or Muslims or Buddhists or whatever faith you may or may not adhere to?

Are we better human beings?

Are we genuinely honoring the memory of these victims, and indeed all victims of hatred and racism and xenophobia before and since, by building not walls to divide us, but a solid and common foundation of consistent, mutual support, and by raising the necessary structures for a more just, more caring, more respectful, more equitable country and world?

I was raised a Christian and still am one, but my in my travels around the world I have been blessed to have been welcomed by and to visit or live among and become familiar with people of many other cultures and faiths, which blessing I believe has helped me to refine my own convictions and faith and understand them more clearly, the better to be their instrument.  In the end a person practices his or her beliefs in the way they feel closest to the Higher Power and that’s perfectly fine as long as we acknowledge our similarities with others and respect their faiths that they feel suit them. Because in those travels I came to understand that all forms of spirituality are based on the same teachings  of “Love your neighbor; treat others as you want them to treat you.”**

Yet, in the years since 9/11/2001, it increasingly seems that rather than applying the discipline and moral fortitude required to show power in compassion, empathy and love in order to prevent such tragedies and promote these teachings as well as to carry out the commands to assist and care for those less fortunate and seek true justice for those who would do us harm, there is a fast-growing trend of taking the much easier path of anger, hurtfulness, divisiveness, closed-mindedness, self-righteous judgement and criticism, and most of all, shameless self-service.

Striving to live and serve in kindness and empathy, love and compassion takes work and prayer, every single day – but the results are worth it all around.

I don’t think those who perished in the attacks on this day 17 years ago wanted their deaths to be followed by anger and division and hate. I believe we will be honoring them far more if the thoughtless anger, needless hatefulness, egotistic attitudes and xenophobic actions are set aside to enable a real and collective search for the real solutions which our society so badly needs.

We are always stronger in kindness.

Tene memorias illorum qui cesserunt
Benedicat tibi Dominus et custodiat te

_______________________________________________________

*John 15:13: “Greater love hath no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
** Matthew 7:12 “In everything,then, do to others as you would have them do to you.” 22:39 “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
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Your donations make a difference!


We at FLMCC want to thank all our supporters and donors and we hope you have had a good start in the New Year!

Your donations are crucial to the work we do. In the past few months, some of these funds have been used to provide assistance in Florida in support of a project to provide school kits and book bags for children in need of school supplies, while other funds were used in support of two projects to provide foodstuffs for two shelters serving the homeless in the greater Orlando area. Specific donations to our heating fund were used to provide heating assistance for three families in South Dakota.

 

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“You don’t point guns at people.”


How many of us “older” folks, when we were growing up and playing with toy guns or shooting BB guns or even maybe learning to handle a bigger weapon, were told: “You don’t point guns at people” ? To which was sometimes added “unless you are going to use it”, followed by a silence and a look that bode no good, especially if we had been pointing it at Daddy or Mommy.

We were told it and scolded about it so repeatedly that it became reflexive and we would not have even dared think about doing it deliberately.

And I am of a mind that some lack of repetition, or maybe of assimilation, of this basic rule is perhaps one reason why some individuals pick up a gun and go out and ruthlessly proceed to commit murder, in cold blood, premeditated or otherwise.

It’s not about what kind of arms are involved – dead is dead, tragedy is tragedy – or even in fine about the right to bear arms, though maybe we need to have national or state gun licenses that say on the back what arms you may have/bear based on the owner’s declared purpose for having or bearing them (sport shooting, skeet, hunting, collection) or if they are required in the bearer’s job (law enforcement or military – when not in uniform). Like with driving licenses, different categories of vehicle – different categories of guns.

The right to bear arms is not at fault here. The guns themselves are not to blame, though the way they can be accessed is certainly a factor, as is the reverence with which they are regarded by many people in this country.

No, it’s not the guns or the right to bear arms. It’s how the gun bearer  exercises his / her right to use the arms he or she is bearing. How that person decides.

It’s about knowing without a shred of doubt that that specific right – which I don’t think needs to be revoked – does not entitle a person to reckless behavior around guns, much less murder, and acting accordingly. Recklessness and murder have never been among the legitimate uses behind the concept of a right to bear arms, even if some of those uses could be discussed as well.

We have to remember that the Founding Fathers had no idea that weapons would develop in the manner they have, and I am sure that if they could see the events today they would say, “Hold on, now, this is not what we meant.” And if they had known, they might have worded that specific amendment a bit differently.

I think we must stop fighting with each other about this.

Nobody is going to take any law-abiding person’s right to bear arms away. Spare me the conspiracy theories, please. And nobody should even consider that because there is historical precedent not to. And  I, non-gun owner, would be be among the first to protest it.

We need to really talk about this rationally and listen to what each other has to say. This is about everybody. Claiming that “a good man with a gun could have prevented this” is,  well, sorry, but it’s foolish thinking. ONLY IF said “good man” chanced to see said “bad guy” before the shooting started, could he have done something. He might be able to prevent it if he sees it in time, or might be able to stop it when it has started, but “might” would be the extent of any guarantee. Wearing a gun or carrying one in plain view is not a sure-fire warranty you will not be the victim of a criminal, or be able to prevent a crime. Ask any policeman or veteran. You have to see your enemy before he sees you. And not many enemies or criminals or mass shooters are going to use a bullhorn to let you know their intentions. We have to be smart and be able to actually discern those intentions before they become reality; and if we do, we have to act appropriately and in due time.

And do we really want everyone carrying Glocks and Rugers or whatever everywhere, from public restroom to frozen foods counter to PTA meeting to gym, gun in hand, darting and turning like SWAT teams, to be able to possibly prevent a shooting? I don’t mean to sound sarcastic (well, actually…); I’m just trying to imagine what extremes might happen if certain online gun proponents’ comments came to life.

Do we really want guns in schools? Do I actually need to list for you the types of risk this would very likely entail, and which could lead to even more of exactly what we DON’T WANT?

What we need is to stop being paranoid about it, to stop saying “If you want to take my gun from me you’ll have to pry from my cold dead hands” (Nobody wants your gun, though I’m sure there are criminals who would do that), to stop saying “make a law! do something! the president this! Congress that!”

Because until We the People actually demonstrate that we are all ready for something reasonable to be done, President Whoever and Congressperson Whatsthename are not going to do more than reflect our own discord.

In the end, however, it all boils down to that old-time rule:

You don’t point guns at people.

If you don’t like seeing someone exercising their freedoms, why are you watching them do so in the first place?


The other day I wrote elsewhere on social media something to the effect that some people seem to prefer violently trolling the web rather than doing something to make the world better.

Today I came across an article about a woman who, while visiting Disney World, stopped to breast-feed her child. Naturally this raised an internet storm with the absolute disapprovers, the rabid defenders, the “yes, well I don’t mind as long as she covers up” and everyone else in between trying to bring order and have some sort of actual conversation about it.

There was much back and forth commentary on this, a good part of which degenerated to insults (the trolls again for some) and as usual it became impossible to have a civilized discussion online or even feel inclined to join in.

Personally, I totally support mothers who breast-feed their babies and if they want to / need to in a public place, why should they have to hide/cover up/feel uncomfortable about it? I have never in my life seen a mom leap boldly to her feet, rip open her blouse with a flourish, and announce to all and sundry that she was going to breast-feed her child. All the moms I have ever even noticed when they were breast-feeding in a public place were doing so openly yet keeping it to themselves and whoever was with them. I mean, sure, if I’d deliberately stopped to watch, I might have see a breast; other than that, it was like, “nothing to see here, move along”. It was a mom feeding her baby and that’s why women have breasts anyway and it’s the most natural thing in the world.

So why are breast-feeding moms subjected to so much opprobrium? I can’t answer that. We all have to look in the mirror to figure out why we feel how we do.

But I will ask this: if you don’t approve, why are you even looking at it? And even if the first amendment gives you the freedom to do so, is it really necessary to criticize a complete stranger just because you don’t approve? What has that mom done to you to make you so angry?

If you don’t like it, just turn your head away. Actually that would be the polite thing to do. My grandmother and aunties called that “minding your own business”. And if you do that you may even notice some real and serious issue to which you can lend your voice usefully and really do something about.

 

WINTER HEATING FUND DRIVE


Source: WINTER HEATING FUND DRIVE

A pair of helping hands


We’ve all seen, gasped at, shook our heads, prayed and cried at the horrific images coming out of southeast Texas and other areas hard hit by Hurricane Harvey. And a lot of you out there have helped – some of you may even have gone there with your hip boots and your boats and your gloves, and your skills, and others of you have sent money and other donations. And God bless you for it.

And some of you are probably wondering how best you might help. And God bless your hearts for that, too.

I’m supporting this young man’s personal efforts to assist in Texas. And I’m here asking you to please help too.

Travis is the son of a close friend and he’s a good man with a heart as big as the universe. And that big heart led him to go walk his talk from Queens, New York all the way down to Texas and help out, personally, alone and on his own time and his own dime and with the help he could get from family and friends.

A lot of what he is seeing down there are things you and I are not seeing on the news and I haven’t got words to describe it because I can only imagine how overwhelming it must be.

The heat. The humidity. The smell. The destruction. The exhaustion. The bewildered eyes. The suffering. The anguish.

The strength and the caring; the solidarity and the humanity; the love and the miracles.

Now the flood waters are going down, and the indescribable magnitude of it all is being slowly and completely revealed. People trying to sort out all that’s left of a lifetime, pulling out the soggy remains of normalcy and trying to salvage memories and useful items at the same time; thousands of animals stranded or roaming, without food, without fresh water, some having stood in the floods for days (which means for many livestock animals like horses and cows, the skin that was in the water will be subject to river rot and literally die and fall off.)

The shelters are still full of people who can’t go back to what was home – not yet; children running and playing, shouting or crying; harassed parents trying to parent and thinking about what they will find when they can go back – or not. There are lines for food, water and other assistance; heaps of donated goods to sort; volunteers and rescue teams doing their jobs and trying not to feel as worn out as they are; reporters looking for human interest stories; officials actively officiating – and the ones trying to portray some semblance of leadership. And in the animal rescue stations, the lines of crates and the barking and meowing and all the other voices of lost pets wondering what is happening to them and where their people are, the rescue teams struggling to care for them and working to find temporary space in shelters outside the zone and organize transport thereto.

And there will be the dead. The dead chickens and drowned or starved and dehydrated dogs and cats and the horses and cows and pigs and sheep and other animals, wild or domestic, great or small, pets or strays, that didn’t make it. The animals that had to be left behind despite every attempt to find a solution, because there was just nothing to carry them away with and there was just no time, and so they were left with a prayer that they’d be OK and the family could come back soon; and then the floods came.

There will be more dead people, too. Some that stayed to brave out and weather the storm; or who just plain couldn’t get out in time and nobody knew, or nobody could make it to them.  Others that were trying to help and perished in their efforts.

There is no safe tap water supply in Beaumont, Texas at the time of this writing. Gasoline has become a priceless and and rarissime commodity. Food is at a premium. For people and for animals. They all need help, and so many will need help for a long, long time.

Travis is seeing a lot of this right now. (Click here for a little look at what he has been helping with.)

And if you want to have another idea, check out these articles:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2017/09/01/helping-animals-is-what-i-do-but-could-this-vet-save-128-dogs-stranded-by-flooding/?utm_term=.36b922fc26b6

All these rescue efforts take money, both to help the victims and to keep the volunteer and other efforts running smoothly.

The expenses for Travis’ volunteer effort have far exceeded expectations. His GoFundMe goal is short of reality. So I am asking you, if you want to help too, to please consider chipping in to Travis’ GoFundMe.  Any amount will be greatly appreciated. Any donations he doesn’t use while he’s there he will donate to the local assistance teams. You’ll be helping far more than you know.

https://www.gofundme.com/4cjo0z4

Thank you.

Villow

Your donations make a difference!


For the past four and one-half years, FLMCC has been active in bringing much-needed assistance to families and elders who are undergoing financial hardship. From warm winter clothing and heating as…

Source: Your donations make a difference!

July 2016