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Thursday, January 03, 2008

"Happy" New Year? If only ...

This post is from a blogging friend of mine that is such an amazing writer. Her site is called Vim and Vinegar, you’ll have to ask her the who, the why and the what for on the name. I highly recommend her as a daily read to everyone. She wrote this for a first of the year post so I’m a little late on stealing it. Thank you S for letting me do this. I’m sure people will come away with the same impression that I did.

"Happy" New Year? If only ...

It is January 1st, 2008 and my family is intact. My health is good (or seems to be); I have all the creature comforts and then some; I will cook my version of the traditional southern New Year's Day meal for whomever is here to eat it; and, God willing, I will go to sleep safely in my own warm bed tonight knowing my loved ones are also safe.

I am lucky.

Others are not so lucky. The linked article is a rather abbreviated report about a suicide bomber killing 30 mourners at a funeral in Baghdad and wounding more than 30 more. I suppose the report is abbreviated because how much more is there to say? Those naked facts indicate a level of motivation or emotion that is so craven and unthinkable and hateful and, one must suppose, desperate that it is difficult to process, let alone analyze. Equally horrific is this story out of Kenya which details how a church filled with some 400 people, who were seeking refuge from the continuing violence resulting from the recent (and dubious) presidential elections there, was burned. At least 25 children died, according to the report. What manner of person burns a church full of people? There is no sanctuary. There is no refuge from that kind of violence because it is the kind of violence that is unrelenting, and fueled by a rage not many of us have experienced. It wants only one thing: destruction. Its human host is no more.

So writing this is a struggle. Not merely because these stories make me cry; not just because the more I pay attention to the world, the more my breath comes in short anxious bursts rather than in the long, deep draughts of one who knows peace; not simply because we have a vacuum of leadership in our own country. The struggle is captured in this question I ask myself: How dare I? When I consider all my many blessings and the serendipity of my whole life (not that there haven't been tremendous difficulties, but that those difficulties did not destroy me), How dare I be anything but happy! Simultaneously, when I consider the daily difficulties of most of humanity, of my neighbors even, How dare I be happy! The more troubling version of the question, though, when I think about my child, my niece and nephews, your children and children everywhere, is this version: How dare I hope?

These are indeed dark times when mourning the loss of a loved one is interrupted by pre-meditated intentional murder, and when not even a Holy house is regarded as sacrosanct enough to offer physical protection. These are dark times when one must pluck up one's courage merely to hope. But I do hope. Rather than wish you a "happy" new year, therefore, I will wish you a Hope-filled New Year because I believe that is where we must begin. And begin we must.


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Blogger B.J. said...

You are a true American, Papamoka. Reading this “after the fact” makes it no less meaningful. In my daily journal, I am counting down the days until Bush goes back to Crawford. I am 65 years old, and it’s been a heartache, for the first time in my life, to despise the president. People seem caught up in the “Obama Spirit,” but I am incredibly skeptical of his being prepared to meet the challenges our new president will face. The last thing we need in the White House is another novice. He is selling “hope.” With hope and five cents, I’ll sell you a good cigar. Huckabee is selling Jesus, and I bought him when I was 10! Despite all the buzz about populism, we need a leader!

You are right about truth! Here’s a quote - one of my favorites - you will like:

“Let truth and falsehood grapple, whoever knew truth put to the worse in a feee and open encounter.” – John Milton in his great plea for a free press, “Aeropagitica.”

4:30 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

Thanks for the compliment BJ.

10:28 AM  

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