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Sunday, November 4, 2001
Carl and Lida Sloan's
For directions: Please phone Bob Olson at (425) 747-3879.
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Sarah Byan read from her LOL book dealing with the way Americans live. David Ingersol shared some of his recent science fiction art. David Hartz presented a video demonstrating his "painting with fire" performance art. Quite a dramatic original and new art form. Roberta Gregory passed around interesting books dealing with our country - Life Magazine Photos and Americana, a political satire magazine from the 1930's. Bruce Taylor read his "Jack of the Lantern" story. Todd Christoffel played guitar and sang his political songs - "The Truth", "She Holds the Love That Waits for You", "Thank You America" and others. Katie Dolan read her political poetry and a film preview. Lida Sloan and Seiko Olson played the piano for us. Bob Olson read his essay "God Bless Us - Americans All". (Bob appreciated constructive comments and this essay in this newsletter is changed and improved because of them.) Carl Sloan showed a variety of dramatically creative slides. Mike Munro showed garden slides. Peter Wagener, Pippin Sardo and Duane Dolan were part of an appreciative audience.
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Bruce Taylor presented a class on The Artist's Way at the Writers on the Sound Conference in Edmonds, WA on October 6.
Bruce will also be retiring from his job at Harborview, in January (not November 1, 2001). Party to be announced in next newsletter.
Our next FOKUS meeting and Christmas party will be at Duane and Kathy Dolan's home on Sunday, December 2nd.
If you want to advertise something your are doing in our newsletter please call Bob or Bruce. This is an excellent free bulletin board for your announcements.
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As of October 6, 2001, I had begun my November editorial thus:
"I usually agree with what columnist, Anthony Lewis, says in his lucid commentaries. But I hated to agree with him this time, in his October 2 column in the Seattle P.I. What he said was that President Bush was showing remarkable restraint regarding the terrorist attack on the WTC. But I have to give credit where credit is due: he is doing exactly the right thing. We could have/could still be in an awful mess if we don't consider carefully and most prudently how to respond - with so much at stake, we have to be so careful..."
At nine a.m. the next day, while at work, one of my fellow employees came up to me and said, "The U.S. has attacked Kabul - "...and so it begins. I feel so sad, so dismayed and just plain scared. And hearing tonight on the news that the U.S. is telling the U.N. that we may bomb other countries where we suspect terrorists - how do we deserve the right to do that? How did we become the world cop? I was so hoping that Anthony Lewis was right, that maybe the restraint we showed was a lesson from Viet Nam, or the Russian experience in Afghanistan. So hoping that Bush wasn't repeating the "Right of Divine of Intervention" a la Lyndon Johnson and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that put us into Viet Nam, killed fifty-odd thousand of our guys and God knows how many Vietnamese. And then Nixon invaded Cambodia and finally we were...defeated, the war ended by a Republican President who turned out to be like a character from a Dostoevsky novel. And now, here we move into another war by a puppet President who claims a mandate by - one vote - voted in power by a supposed impartial, but in the end, corrupted, Supreme Court. Please don't get me wrong on this. What happened in New York was appalling and needs to be redressed. Most certainly. But redressed with something like this that has such potentially explosive (no pun intended) consequences --?? --the right to expand the war on terrorism into other countries? Just how far is this going to go? Are we using this as an excuse to invade Iraq? What impact is all knee-jerk patriotism going to have on artistic expression? Is it going to turn into the McCarthy Era all over again? People gonna be rounded up and put away because they don't agree with the War? Is anybody asking questions? When do we know when the war will be over? How many terrorist attacks are we willing to have in our country? How many are we willing to have killed here? Or to have killed there? And there. And, there? Is this really just about avenging the dead at the WTC or is this an excuse to ram western culture or the "Pax Americana" down non-western throats whether they like it or not? So we can have the oil and other resources, even if the regimes we support or put into power brutalize/torture/kill their citizenry*, so we can have our narcissistic/aggrandizement of self, whether anyone else likes it or not ("Let them eat cake")? Our five percent of the earth's population consumes most of its resources, emits 25% of its carbon dioxide, and then withdraws from the Kyoto Conference on Global Warming -- in short, with so much at stake, is this war really necessary? Was any thought given, for example, to putting a pricey bounty, say ten million dollars, for each person killed in the attacks? Ten million times say, 6,000, equals six hundred million. Seems to me that someone having the chance to make 600 million would probably have delivered bin Laden ("Dead or Alive!") pretty tucking fast, with the high probability of (1) no war, and (2) a lesser chance of terrorism since there wouldn't necessarily be a military response because (3) the "dirty work" would be done by???
But no. Now we have another war. And I'm scared, dismayed, and appalled. What we truly need now, more than anything, is what the Buddha was reported to have said: "Infinite wisdom, infinite compassion." That is what we need most. That is what we have least. And we are starting to move down a long, slippery slope. It looks mighty dark ahead and I truly wonder what it is we're all getting into. No one is asking questions, or if you do, you're seen as a traitor. Who should I be afraid of more? bin Laden or my country, or the impact of our politics on other countries, which we don't want to examine, yet apparently so enrages them they target us for attack? Here we are, at war...and so it begins...again. And I am so sad, sad for what is happening, sad that a future that is based on the best of humankind, in the end, may never come to pass. Oh, Gods. What might have been...what might have been...
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September 11, 2001 - I rediscovered the stuff Americans are made of. I'm not getting a tattoo, but my smile is red, white and blue. The courage, heroism and efficiency of my countrymen facing catastrophe braces my faith. I'm so proud of so many. I'm so proud to be an American, but, an American who curbs his naivete with the knowledge to hold himself and his leaders accountable.
Americans are Citizens of the World and I treasure the diversity of American culture. I am proud of my religious/cultural niche, and I treasure my neighbors - Christian, Hebrew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, whatever, skin of all shades and hues with varying religious, national, racial, and cultural differences combined into the stew of democracy. When Americans demonstrate unity, our determination, our love, our compassion, our pride and our conscience, this country displays its best. However, some see us at our worst. "Ugly Americans" describe our image to many of the world's oppressed and impoverished. They envy our possessions and suffer indignity by our greed. Sometimes we are really hated. We cannot ignore that sorry fact. I lived through the Great Depression and World War II. I remember one incident in my childhood.
The Great Depression was running down as World War II loomed on the horizon. I was seven years old. My first day of school initiated my renown. I was the new kid in town. Right after school I joined my buddies sailing tin lunchboxes in a flooded field. Then I went to Otto's, and to Bobby's, ending up at Glen's for supper. Afternoon had become evening - late evening. Glen's mother asked me if my parents were worried. "Oh no," I replied, "They don't worry." We saw a crowd with flashlights scouring the woods across the street. Joining them I asked, "What are you looking for?" A tall beefy policeman answered, "A lost little boy who just moved to town." "That's me!" I exclaimed. Immediately I became the most popular boy in town - the newcomer accepted and loved by his neighbors. Of course the fact that my dad was the new village attorney and that I was a middle-class Protestant Caucasian helped. My German-American and Italian-American classmates were not so fortunate. They were identified with Hitler and Mussolini and were not accepted. No one in our village was oriental or black. Our patriotic pride was limited to our own tribe.
World War II ended before I went to college; but the Korean War called upon Americans to defend Asia. I entered the army and went to the war in Korea where another incident shaped my life
Some Americans reject our obligations. Captain R., my commanding officer - D Company Seoul, Korea, demonstrated this. He illegally sent me to a prison camp. Captain R. returned from R & R in Japan after his executive officer had made me training NCO. Captain R. did not believe in "training". He was a slovenly racist who tormented black soldiers by making them lick his boots while his redneck companions jeered. One day ARVIN South Korean Lieutenant W. confided in me that Captain R. sold stolen American trucks to his colonel, who made him operate a private moving company for the ARVIN Colonel and American Captain's profit. Fear of my knowledge must have motivated my punishment. I thought I was being transferred to another company when I was placed on a bus, under armed guard, and moved into an Army prison camp. My back gave out and a Swedish Mash unit doctor medically evacuated me to Japan. Patients in my M.A.S.H. hospital were Americans, South Koreans, Canadians, Australians and one or two Turks. The Korean War was international and I was proud to be part of an international peacekeeping force. Flying to Japan I held my own transfer documents. Opening these I discovered forged papers revealing that I had been court-martialed for theft. I destroyed these phony documents. Because of his behavior I still cannot accept Captain R. as a real American. Captain R was the worst person to hurt me, but not the last. However, I have had the good fortune to prevail under duress.
Many friendships have brightened my life. I've worked with renowned educators and psychologists, struggling missionaries, famous psychics, authors, convicts and preachers. I love my insightful, caring Japanese wife who has blessed me with three children and six grandchildren and now is my nurse as I recover from surgery. I am especially proud of my children. When my body rebelled after prostrate surgery and my doctor's office put our calls on hold, my "take charge" daughter told the hospital nurses to meet us for immediate care and drove me to the hospital. My mechanic son will unofficially represent besieged Boeing Company machinists in the New York City Marathon this November. This is the same besieged Boeing Company that seemed too eager to announce their intentions to lay off 30,000 workers after September 11th. And after they had moved their corporate headquarters from Seattle to Chicago distancing their management from their workers. How un-American of them.
I'm a multi-cultural American and very proud of it. My heart was bruised when my Japanese-American wife and son experienced prejudice in Washington State because they were seen as American Indians. Imagine being rejected as one of the first Americans. I take pride in my life, but I am shamed by incidents of my own thoughtlessness that have clouded my heritage.
In July of 1986 (the summer after the fall of Baby Doc Duvalier) I went to Haiti as an American missionary. As I was speaking and praying with the most unfortunate people in the Western Hemisphere, a teenage pregnant girl came up to me in Solie (Haiti's worst slum). This girl, Celene, insisted that I be the person to pray for her. I placed my hands on her shoulders and we prayed. We prayed that she and her baby would live and thrive. Celene grasped me tightly and made me promise. I promised to return and see her well. I never kept that promise. I may not have been an "ugly-American", but I was less American in my neglect. I also failed myself on a warm spring day last year.
That day a simple-minded young man of Middle-Eastern complexion came to my door selling candy. He was unlike so many of the kids who do this. This fellow was older, overweight and ugly. Perhaps this was the only job he could get. I turned him down. Then, he went to the curb on the street in front of our house, sat down, put his head in his arms and wept. I was not as callous and cruel as the Seattle bridge watchers who taunted the young suicidal woman to "jump". However, I did watch and I did nothing. How un-American of me.
I've set my goals to emulate the heroic New Yorkers. The heroes of New York City, firemen, policemen, medics, computer technicians and many others exceeded their best, as our President and his leaders responded with admirable dispatch on September 11th.
It is still hard to realize that on September 11, 2001 America suffered the most atrocious civilian atrocity in history. Now, America's "war against terrorism" stretches belief. This is "war against hate" and containment will never approach victory. When thousands of terrorists see their only salvation in murdering us, their determination is Satanically fearful. More fearful is the greed demonstrated by American international corporations and their leadership creating such an anti-American breeding ground. Why do many Arabs favor the poverty of austere fundamentalism over the prosperity of capitalism? Is it because they see American wealth as "always beyond their reach"? Americans must realize our mission is to care for our fellow man - worldwide. Our mission in Afghanistan must never lose sight of the two young American care workers who are held hostage in an Afghan jail. These young ladies best represent American ideals. Americans must also appreciate all the countries and cultures that are our partners. Only through international diplomacy will we succeed.
I am cautious, but not pessimistic. The consensus of a panel of American Muslim clerics on TV was that Muslim countries must rid themselves of internal poison - fundamentalist terrorists in their midst that shake their stability. Of course this has been their bane for decades. Now we Americans must help develop Muslim stability. No easy task. At the time of the Crusades Muslim countries tolerated Jewish and Christian religions. Not today.
Right now we are bombing Taliban targets in Afghanistan, and we are dropping food care packages to some of the starving people. These food care packages, by land route or airdrop, are more important than our bombs. Americans are known as Soldiers of Democracy, bringing compassion and freedom to oppressed people. Remember that American soldiers administered the Marshall Plan after World War II. The renewed prosperity of Germany, Italy and Japan was the best investment America ever made. Today Americans need to redefine our roles and change our identities. We can no longer remain indifferent to those who hate us. We can no longer seem to dominate and demean our partners in other lands.
Only through patience and persistence, together with individual and corporate reform, will America realize security and worldwide acceptance. The endless battle will continue. It is our destiny, and as a patriotic American I will hold my leaders and myself accountable.
I am so proud to be an American. God bless us all - American Advocates for Humanity.
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"If you don't have any money, the problem is food.
When you have money, it's sex.
When you have both, it's health.
If everything is simply jake, then you're frightened to death."
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|Last updated: December 3, 2001|